Go Dark with Pop. 1280’s First Single Off ‘Imps of Perversion’ ‘Lights Out’

Share Button

Last winter, I become obsessed with the horrifically pleasureful sounds of Brooklyn foursome Pop. 1280. The only proper way I like to describe them is to say that they sound like your fantasy imaginary opening act for Nick Cave a la Wings of Desire. Their debut album The Horror conjured up dark and rough images of late 1980s Berlin basement nightclubs and trance-inducing songs that vacillate between making you want to lower your head and drag feet angerly across a dance floor to those that make you want to thrash in a crowd and possibly break a limb. Needless to say, they’re great.

And now, they’ve debuted the first single "Lights Out" off their upcoming album Imps of Perversion. Bizarrely delicious and painfully sinister, their new song feels like a welcome follow up to their haunting world that feesl like faded flickering neon lights reflecting down a long darkened alley after a gruesome fight—if you will. Enjoy below.

Floating Through the Spirit of Wim Wenders’ ‘Wings of Desire’

Share Button

When it comes to Wings of Desire, it is a film whose spirit is much better served to be expressed through any other medium than words. Perhaps I could paint your a picture or play you an instrumental number with more ease than explaining the ineffable essence of what makes Wim Wender’s late-1980s film such a profoundly beautiful masterpiece. I’m not a religious person by any means, nor particularly spiritual, but there’s a very specific feeing emitted by Wings of Desire that feels touched by a divine presence—both hauntingly meditative and wonderfully enrapturing. The romantic fantasy of a film tells the tale of immortal angels who reside over Berlin, listening in on the thoughts of humans, comforting those in distress, and longing for their own ability to taste the pleasures of the living. In an article which originally appeared in The Logic of Images in 1987, Wenders said: 

I really don’t know what gave me the idea of angels. One day I wrote “angels” in my notebook, and the next day “the unemployed.” Maybe it was because I was reading Rilke at the time—nothing to do with films—and realizing as I read how much of his writing is inhabited by angels. Reading Rilke every night, perhaps I got used to the idea of angels being around.
f
 
And if you look at his original treatment for the film, you’ll see he begins  with the Rilke quote from The Eighth Elegy:
And we, spectators always, everywhere,
looking at, never out of, everything!
e
 
Written in 1986, the treatment going to say:
You have a wish.
 
You wish that something might exist, and then you work on it until it does. You want to give something to the world, something truer, more beautiful, more painstaking, more serviceable, or simply something other than what already exists. And right at the start, simultaneous with the wish, you imagine what that “something other” might be like, or at least you see something flash by. And then you set off in the direction of the flash, and you hope you don’t lose your orientation, or forget or betray the wish you had at the beginning.
 
And in the end, you have a picture or pictures of something, you have music, or something that operates in some new way, or a story, or this quite extraordinary combination of all these things: a film. Only with a film—as opposed to paintings, novels, music, or inventions—you have to present an account of your desire; more, you even have to describe in advance the path you want to go with your film. No wonder, then, that so many films lose their first flash, their comet.
The thing I wished for and saw flashing was a film in and about Berlin.
 
A film that might convey something of the history of the city since 1945. A film that might succeed in capturing what I miss in so many films that are set here, something that seems to be so palpably there when you arrive in Berlin: a feeling in the air and under your feet and in people’s faces that makes life in this city so different from life in other cities.
 
To explain and clarify my wish, I should add: it’s the desire of someone who’s been away from Germany for a long time, and who could only ever experience “Germanness” in this one city. I should say I’m no Berliner. Who is nowadays? But for over twenty years now, visits to this city have given me my only genuine experiences of Germany, because the (hi)story that elsewhere in the country is suppressed or denied is physically and emotionally present here.
 
Of course I didn’t want just to make a film about the place, Berlin. What I wanted to make was a film about people—people here in Berlin—that considered the one perennial question: how to live?
e
 
Before starting in on what his prologue might offer:
When God, endlessly disappointed, finally prepared to turn his back on the world forever, it happened that some of his angels disagreed with him and took the side of man, saying he deserved to be given another chance.
 
Angry at being crossed, god banished them to what was then the most terrible place on earth: berlin.
 
And then he turned away.
 
All this happened at the time that we today call: “the end of the second world war.”
 
Since that time, these fallen angels from “the second angelic rebellion” have been imprisoned in the city, with no prospect of release, let alone of being readmitted to heaven. they are condemned to be witnesses, forever nothing but onlookers, unable to affect men in the slightest, or to intervene in the course of history. they are unable to so much as move a grain of sand . . .
And when you look at the whole of Wenders’ work, the Andre Breton quote, “All my life, my heart has yearned for a thing I cannot name,” seems to resonate throughout. His characters are "all so hungry for love and connection and something to make them feel alive. Some of them find it in others and then some of them realize even if they did—would it even make them feel better? Or are they destined to eternally feel that hole inside?" In Wenders’ Pina, Bausch says, "What are we longing for? Where does all this yearning come from?" And in hearing her say those words, I realized the essence of that question was the through-line for all of Wenders’ work as an artist—this precise and deeply specific feeling for something you can’t taste or touch but know like the back of your teeth and crave and search for without end. 
 
,m
 
And as we anticipate Wenders’ next feature Every Thing Will Be Fine, a 3D drama starring James Franco, we wonder where that film will land on his spectrum of work. But in the meantime, let’s all do ourselves a favor and re-watch Wings of Desire, or at least read the rest of his treatment for the film HERE, his own take on the film’s production HERE, or watch Nick Cave’s perfect concert scene below and Peter Falk in one of his finest roles.
 

 

There’s a Criterion Collection Flash Sale Going On! Here’s What You Should Be Buying

Share Button

The good folks over at The Criterion Collection have certainly been showing us a lot of love lately. After they so kindly made all of their films available on Hulu for free on Valentines weekend, now they have graced us with a Flash Sale. Cue: cinephiles everywhere stopping whatever they’re doing, desparatingly scouring their dwindling bank statements and proclaiming, "But I will literally die without that Rohmer box set!" 

So, from now until noon on the 27th, all in-stock Blu-rays and DVDs are 50% off, and all you have to do is enter their code and voilà! I certainly understand that remembering what you wanted in the first place—let alone making a decision—is hard enough, so I’ve compiled the best Collectors Sets available on the site that you otherwise probably wouldn’t be able to shell out the money for. From American New Wave classics to German melodramas and everything in between, here’s a helpful reminder of what you should be purchasing today.

 

America Lost and Found: The BBS Story 

  • Head, Bob Rafelson 
  • Easy Rider, Dennis Hooper
  • Five Easy Pieces, Bob Rafelson
  • Drive, He Said, Jack Nicholson
  • A Safe Place, Henry Jaglom
  • The Last Picture Show, Peter Bogdonavich
  • The King of Marvin Gardens, Bob Rafelson

The BDR Trilogy, Rainer Werner Fassbinder

  • The Marriage of Maria Braun
  • Veronika Voss
  • Lola

By Brakhage: An Anthology, Volumes One and Two

  • By Brakhage An Anthology: Volume One
  • By Brakhage An Anthology: Volume Two

Eclipse Series 19: Chantal Ackerman in the Seventies

  • La Chambre
  • Hotel Monterey 
  • News From Home
  • Je Tu Il Elle
  • Les Rendez-Vous D’Anna

Eclipse Series 35: Maidstone and Other Films by Norman Mailer

  • Maidstone
  • Wild 90
  • Beyond the Law

Eclipse Series 9: The Delirious Fictions of William Klein

  • Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?
  • The Model Couple
  • Mr. Freedom

I Am Curious…Box Set, Vilgot Sjöman

  • I Am Curious—Yellow
  • I Am Curious—Blue

La Jetee/Sans Soleil, Chris Marker

  • La Jettee
  • Sans Soleil

John Cassavetes: Five Films

  • Shadows
  • Faces
  • A Woman Under the Influence
  • The Killing of  Chinese Bookie
  • Opening Night
  • A Constant Forge, Charles Kiselyak

Six Moral Tales, Eric Rohmer

  • The Bakery Girl of Monceau
  • My Night at Maud’s
  • Love in the Afternoon
  • Claire’s Knee
  • Suzanne’s Career
  • La Collectionneuse

Three Colors, Krzysztof Kieślowski

  • Three Colors: Blue
  • Three Colors: White
  • Three Colors: Red

Eclipse Series 18: Dušan Makavejev—Free Radical

  • Man is Not a Bird
  • Love Affair, or The Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator
  • Innocence Unprotected

10 Years of Rialto Pictures

  • Army of Shadows, Jean-Pierre Melville
  • Band of Outsiders, Jean-Luc Godard
  • Au hasard Balthazar, Robert Bresson
  • Billy Liar, John Schlesinger
  • The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Luis Buñuel
  • Mafioso, Alberto Lattuada
  • Rififi, Jules Dassin
  • The Third Man, Carol Reed
  • Touchez Pas au Grisbi,  Jacques Becker

Wim Wenders’ Tales of Existential Romantic Yearning

*Note: Okay fine, I made this one up but still.

  • Paris, Texas
  • Wings of Desire
  • Alice in the Cities

The Best Films to See This Weekend Around New York or From Your Couch

Share Button

With this "historic" blizzard looming over us, there’s quite a good chance that you will not be leaving your house this weekend. But that’s such a shame, considering throughout New York there’s a plethora of incredible films screening and come on, you don’t want to miss out on the chance to see some of these on the big screen. There’s Abbas Kiarostami’s fanscinating Close-Up tonight, David Fincher’s cult-favorite Fight Club at midnight today and tomorrow, Bertolluci’s Before the Revolution—and plenty more. But whatever your preference, there’s still a decent chance that you’ll have to find cinematic solace in the comfort of your own home this weekend. So, in lieu of getting too thrilled about leaving the house, I’ve cooked up a list of not only the best films showing around the city, but the best of what’s streaming on Netflix and Hulu, along with clips from what critics had to say about each picture to give you a taste of what you’re in for. Enjoy.

 

Close-Up at The Film Society of Lincoln Center

"No doubt the film is disturbing: its portrait of Sabzian, described by one acquaintance as a “mythomaniac,” shows us an eloquent autodidact who is nonetheless deeply troubled, more a prisoner of cinema than an emblem of its salvific power. Yet it is the self-aware, suffering Sabzian of Close-up who touched the world’s imagination and survives as an icon of the Iranian cinema’s humanistic ideals, its faith in the dreams that offer avenues out of the world’s worst oppressions." —Godfrey Cheshire

Reprise Streaming on Netflix

"An exuberant, exhilaratingly playful testament to being young and hungry — for life and meaning and immortality, and for other young and restless bodies — “Reprise” is a blast of unadulterated movie pleasure. Made under the self-knowing influence of the early French New Wave, before Godard discovered Mao and Truffaut lost his groove, the film wears its influences without a trace of anxiety, in part, I imagine, because its precociously talented Norwegian director, Joachim Trier, doesn’t worry about old-fashioned conceits like creative patricide. You don’t have to kill your fathers, just learn from them."— Manohla Dargis 

Blow Out at Nitehawk Cinema

"No less a virtuoso than cinematographer Zsigmond told me this year that De Palma “is one of the greatest visual filmmakers around.” He still marvels at the work they did in Blow Out: “Think about the 360-degree circular dolly shot near the end of the movie: we had to light practically the whole seaport of Philadelphia with the July 4 fireworks behind Nancy Allen and John Travolta.” For Kael and for legions of true believers, De Palma has, to use a sixties phrase, “kept the faith.” This man of many parts—realist, fantasist, ironist, tragedian—has never fused them more dynamically or poignantly than in Blow Out." —Michael Sragow

Three Colors: Red Streaming on Hulu

"This feeling of mysterious presence reflects the way Kieślowski spoke of the narrative of Red. He described the story, and particularly the “missed” relationship between Valentine and the judge, in ways that suggest that the world has a hidden design, albeit one prone to flaws. For him, “the essential question the film asks is: Is it possible to repair a mistake that was committed somewhere high above?” The idea that there is an invisible but fallible authority presiding over the world within the film naturally invites us to consider the director himself in that role."—Georgina Evans

The Tenant at IFC Center

"There is then an ironic ending that will come as a complete surprise to anyone who has missed every episode of "Night Gallery" or the CBS Mystery Theater. It turns out that — but never mind, never mind. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard an audience talk back to the ending of a horror film. "The Tenant" might have made a decent little 20-minute sketch for one of those British horror anthology films in which Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Vincent Price pick up a little loose change. As a film by Polanski, it’s unspeakably disappointing." —Roger Ebert

Primer Streaming on Netflix and Hulu

"Whether these will add up to anything more than a cerebral diversion is hard to say. Mr. Carruth has invented something fascinating — a way of capturing, on film, some of the pleasure and peril of scientific inquiry — and you don’t need a time machine to predict that as he goes on, he will discover exciting new ways to put it to use."—A.O.

Fight Club at IFC Center

"Fincher is a visionary who keeps Fight Club firing on all cylinders, raising hallucinatory hell in ways too satisfying toi spoil here. As for the dissenters, "I Am Jack’s Complete Lack of Surprise". Fincher’s refusal to moralize and reassure has possed off the watchdogs of virtue. Let ’em bark. They think anything alive is dangerous. Fight Club pulld you in, challenges your prejudices, rocks your world and leaves you laughing in the face of an abyss. It’s alive, all right. It’s also an uncompromising American classic." —Peter Travers

Wings of Desire Streaming on Hulu

"Is the plot arc of Wings of Desire a cry against cinema, even as it equates watching with love? Or does it suggest, to the choir, only a more engaged participation for us, the give-and-take of art film as opposed to the utterly passive experience of Hollywood dross, the Godardian sense that cinema is not an escape from life but life itself? Once Damiel goes human, awakening in the no-man’s-land between the east and west sections of the wall, we as viewers may have an experience akin to Greta Garbo’s after she’d seen the Beast in Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast transform into the clean-shaven Jean Marais: “Give me back my Beast.”—Michael Atkinson

Killer of Sheep at Museum of the Moving Image

"But there is more to neo-realism than formalist gestures; context counts too, and much like the characters in Rossellini’s “Open City,” Stan and his family are casualties of war. This may be Mr. Burnett’s most radical truth-telling. In “Killer of Sheep,” the characters’ identities as African-Americans are material and existential givens, while poverty is the equal-opportunity destroyer." —Manohla Dargis

The Night Porter Streaming on Hulu

"The Night Porter depicts not only the political continuity between wartime Nazism and 1957 Austria, but also the psychological continuity of characters locked into compulsive repetition of the past."

Before the Revolution at Anthology Film Archives

"What makes the film worth reviving is its stylistic elan, some channeled through Godard, Fellini and Antonioni, but all fresh and vigorous: its jump cuts and dynamic editing; its expressive, freestyling take on neo-realism; its powerful lighting. The soundtrack, by a youngish Ennio Morricone, is limpid. And Aldo Scavardo’s photography, especially during a wonderful ode to the beauty of the River Po, is unforgettable." — Sukhdev Sandhu

Revanche Streaming on Hulu

"Spielmann is interested in aspects of life that exceed simple comprehension. Fathoming the interconnections between disparate people, he emphasizes realistic perception and spiritual discovery. He told an interviewer: “Loneliness is probably an inextricable part of our modern lives, and yet I consider it an illusion. We always think of ourselves as being separate from the world, and in this way we deceive ourselves. This separation is just an invention of our imagination; in many ways, we are constantly and directly interwoven in a larger whole. Loneliness is an attribute of our limited awareness, not of life itself.”—Armond White

The Godfather at Landmark Sunshine

"Although the movie is three hours long, it absorbs us so effectively it never has to hurry. There is something in the measured passage of time as Don Corleone hands over his reins of power that would have made a shorter, faster moving film unseemly. Even at this length, there are characters in relationships you can’t quite understand unless you’ve read the novel. Or perhaps you can, just by the way the characters look at each other."—Roger Ebert

My Night at Maud’s Streaming on Hulu

"Rohmer’s films offer us an exceptionally vivid picture of how we navigate the twists and turns that life throws our way on a daily basis. “All the pleasure of life is in general ideas,” wrote Oliver Wendell Holmes. “But all the use of life is in specific solutions.” No artist has expressed this dichotomy more eloquently, or lovingly, than Eric Rohmer."—Kent Jones

Timeless Originals: This Week on Hulu

Share Button

Jonathon Demme has said, "I don’t think it’s sacrilegious to remake any movie, including a good or even great movie." And he’s right, some films only grow with adaptation and allow for a new perspective on a world we already love. However, some fall flat and prove entirely unnecessary—like last year’s remake of Straw Dogs, for example. What was point of that film? There’s no way it could have even compared to the cinemaitc audacity and penetrating violence of the Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 original in its cultural context and the repercussions it faced with censorship of the time. However, it’s always interesting when a director remakes is own work, as Michael Haneke did with Funny Games in 2007. But it’s the original film that one should always watch first. And this week, Hulu and the Criterion Collection will be highlighting their favorite originals, all later adapted into other works. From Wim Wenders’ philosophical meditation on love, longing, and the desire for existence in 1980s Berlin with Wings of Desire (later to become City of Angels) to Jean-Luc Godard’s seminal 1960 nouvelle vague classic Breathless (needlessly remade in 1983 with Richard Gere), these originals will remind you what’s it’s like to witness a truly incredible film for the first time. 


Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire, 1987


Anthony Asquith’s Pygmalion, 1938


Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, 1958


Peter Brook’s Lord of the Flies, 1963


Roger Vadim’s …And God Created Woman, 1956


Jean-Luc Godard’s À bout de souffle (Breathless), 1960


George Sluizer’s The Vanishing, 1988

Talking with Nina Hoss on the Subtle Beauty of ‘Barbara’

Share Button

When one thinks of cinematic depictions of Germany in the 1980s, the mind usually imagines a world drained of color—the desolate grey coldness lingering through the air between the tortured souls that fill the streets à la Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire. But with Christian Petzold’s latest Silver Bear-winning drama, Barbara, we see this antithesis of that bleakness: a film rich with the nature and color, void of symbols and the dark veil of oppression. However, the lush and vibrant physical atmosphere is juxtaposed by the psychology of the film’s titular character, who must restrain her emotions and build a wall around herself as a means of preservation. 

Taking place in the year 1980 in East Germany, Barbara tells the story of a brilliant young doctor Barbara Wolff, who has been transferred from a prestigious post in Berlin to a small pediatric hospital in the country after applying for an ausreiseantrag, or exit visa, from the GDR. Her new life in the East requires exhbiting a great deal of strength—constantly having to ward off emotional connection to those around her, as well as advances of friendship and attraction from a fellow doctor, Andre (played wondefully by Roland Zehrfeld). But it’s in her work as a physician that we see the other side of Barbara, the dedication and passion that binds her to her patients, and makes us question whether or not she could abandon this new world to escape out of the East. This year’s Best Foreign Film Academy Award entry for Germany, the film’s quiet subtly and sense of disillusionment leave you wondering just how far the past seeps into the present and if it’s ever truly possible to leave one life behind.

We sat down with Nina Hoss to talk about her working relationship with Christian, building the past of Barbara, and experiencing the world of East Germany.

You’ve worked with Christian before. How did this film come about for the two of you?
Actually it’s a long time ago, like ten years ago, when we worked on our first movie that was made for television. He gave me a novel called Barbara, which is the basis of this movie. It’s also about a doctor but she lives in the second World War and she’s a communist—that’s what makes her an outcast in that sense. I read it in those days and forgot about it other than it was a great novel. But he worked on it in his mind and he started talking about it three or four years ago and then by having the idea of setting it in this time, I always thought that as a fascinating thing to do. So I was always been involved in the process of the story.

So he knew you were going to play Barbara?
Yeah, he said that pretty early on. The way we work is that he writes—or even before he starts writing, he tells me the story and we take these long walks and I ask questions: but what if she did this or what if he felt that? And then throughout these questions I think he gets more and more clear. That’s as much as I do.

That’s really interesting because there are a lot of directors who have an actor they love to work with, but it’s interesting to see how collaborative it is between the two of you.
Yeah, I pretty much see it as a partnership. I’m not involved in the writing process but I approach it from the acting standpoint and the emotional standpoint—not just my character but the whole. So I research it on that level—if I can emotionally follow each character, that it makes sense the way they react or act. We talk a lot about acting and filmmaking itself, so that’s why I think we’re so curious and both know we want to go on further. By finding someone who is now a real friend but also someone you can be open and frank about things with and you trust each other very much, you can criticize each other without thinking, oh this person wants to harm me or. It’s just always for the better and that’s such a great gift.

And does having that level of trust enhance your performance?
You have to have trust, especially if you play these parts. As an actress, if I didn’t have the stage and I just did Christian’s movies I think I would go die like a little flower because as an actress you want to express yourself, of course. But here you have to concentrate and hold back so much and do it all internally—which I love, I love that kind of work—but you have to trust that the other person really gets you in your work because someone might oversee what you’re actually doing and focus on something else. You have to be very much together so that I’m free in not doing anything.

Barbara had such a complexity but was so restrained, so your performance had to be restrained as well. How do you approach a role like that where everything is happening so internally?
In this, I definitely had to have a background story. I asked myself, who was she before she got into a conflict with the state? So I thought: well, she must have gone along with the whole system for quite a bit because other than that you wouldn’t have become a doctor, you weren’t even allowed to study medicine. So I then I thought: but during that period of time when she was a student in Berlin, which even back then was very exciting city, she was a lively positive woman. I mean, in the film now she has make up on, so she did back then as well, and she had that positive side about her but she had a guilt, For me in my head, it was that she didn’t stand up for a very good friend when she had to in school days and that always stayed with her. And when there came another situation where she had the option to not look at it or look at it,  and she did. So she’s fine with that but it made her feel like, I can’ stay here, I have to leave this country because it always pushes me to this moment and I have to do too many compromises to actually stay here. So that’s when we meet her, she’s being punished for that attitude and she keeps up that attitude because she knows she has the option to flee. That gives you strength because you have an option. But that’s why she can’t show the world, I don’t like you I want nothing to do with you and I’m leaving you. So she’s closed up for anything that’s around her. But only in her work she can manage.

She had to be so turned off to most things around her—Andre would be so warm and welcoming to her and she’d be so cold. But then you’d see her with a patient and she was so loving and protective.
That’s when she can’t keep up that wall and that’s why he can get to her.

And Andre can see that side to her. Their relationship was so great to watch as the dynamic between then changed—how was working with Ronald?
Oh, I love him, I really do. It’s always such a present that’s been given to you when you rehearse up to a certain point, and then when they call “action” I could rely on the fact that whatever happens he can go along with it and the subtly. I just loved that about it. And I also thought, it’s so great to have him who is such a warm person but portraying someone where you can’t be sure if you can trust him. But he gives the whole movie this warm and the whole movie, this warmth comes closer to this iceberg and slowly melts her so I thought it was perfect.

He added to that juxtaposition between this world and that she is fleeing to. When she has these secret meetings with Jorg, everything seems so much colder and they’re always in hotels. When he’s talking about the future if she runs away and says, "you won’t have to work," the second I heard that, I thought, how could she leave something she loves so much? So there’s the East that feels much more warm and she gets to be this intelligent working woman, but there’s another world that might be better.
Yeah, and Jorg doesn’t even know her. That’s the moment where she finds out, oh god he doesn’t have a clue what I’m about; I’m about my job, that’s me.

He doesn’t challenge her like Andre.
I’m sure she wouldn’t have the same conversations. It’s like a holiday romance because it’s always exciting because it’s in secret and you know, all of a sudden when it comes to this decision to leave everything behind and not be able to ever come back, I think in that moment you think, hang on what’s going on on this other side? Women don’t work and I mean it was the difference. In East Germany in the 80s, there was no question that women worked, it was no question because it was no option because otherwise they wouldn’t have enough workmanship; they had to have the women working or else it would have collapsed much earlier. So that was also their self-esteem, being a working person. And so that was not an option at all for her. I thought that was always the turning moment when he says that.

The film was mainly shot chronologically; did that help create an atmosphere or a tone because you were building up to something rather than have to remember the narrative arc in your mind?
It definitely helped. The only thing we shot not chronologically was the kiss, which Christian insisted on because he said, if you act towards that kiss you make the moment too big. And I thought, yeah maybe but also we’re intelligent actors so I’m not sure if we really needed it to be early on. 

And it’s not a lustful kiss.
No, she always so restrain herself because she’s leaving that night. It comes from also knowing that she’s leaving, I have to give into that just for a second.

It was filmed so beautifully and much different than other films that depict the time; was that something Christian as very conscious of doing?
It mainly had to do with Chrsitian’s remembrance. Because as a child, his family came from the East, and I think they fled before the wall was built, and so when they got back each summer on holiday to see their family, that was his rememberance. The grass was green, it smelled great, and it still is a difference if you’re in the West in rural areas, it’s all worked on. You see humans working. But in the East it’s very wild because they just had their farms and it was a huge collective thing, but other than that they left nature alone. So it is beautiful. It’s much different, and he wanted to portray that. Also, that the colors are vibrant and beautiful also.

It’s a place where Barbara can be more alive. 
It shows also what you leave behind. It’s much harder to leave that behind than a gray, grim, cold place. And that’s also a reality but not only.

And did you speak to other cast members who had experienced living in the East at this time?
There was an actress in the film that had fled East Germany. It was really great to have her there because I was so interested in this moment—which was quite tricky to play—when Barbara lies to Andre. He wants her to be part of the operation and he says, “don’t you want to be part of it,” and she says, “yeah” and tells him she can make it and you know, I’m not there anymore. So I have to act like the audiences gets this is hard for her, but it must be convincing that she doesn’t see that. So what’s going on inside of you, I wanted to understand that and this actress, she explained it to me. She was with a theater in the West and she was pretending to go back with them and she fled through the woods, through the window like a movie as well. She made appointments at home—we meet then and then and then and then next Saturday we have lunch, or whatever—meanwhile she was saying that, she said it was hot and cold and hot and cold, and it was so hard to do that because you know you’ll never see them again. So that was amazing to talk to someone who actually went through that.

In terms of female characters, I liked Barbara because she did lie, make bad decisions, and did things she shouldn’t have done, but you don’t judge her, you look at her from a very human standpoint because she’s not in a position she wants to be in. So did you think about that when you were going into it, about how to make this woman that people would understand?
For me it as very important, that in her job, I wanted to portray a doctor and I was actually watching doctors in hospital. What makes a good doctor? It’s someone that has the right amount of warmth but also is confident in what they know and that they are not afraid of saying things you might not want to hear. So I wanted her to say to the girl, it’s going to hurt and you know, prepare them but be there for them and go through with it, no question.  And that’s when you feel safe as a patient. So I wanted her to be the amazing doctor that you want to have, that you want to go to. And from that point on, it revealed to me how I wanted to portray Barbara because if you can be that kind of doctor, you must be a good person. 

Did you do a lot of research?
I talked a lot with people who had lived in this period, and read a lot of books to create a background story, to get ideas and to get this atmosphere. Because living in the West, I just never experienced anything like it—not trusting anyone, that you can’t talk freely.