Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Film #2: What to do in case of fire (15)

Released: 2001 
Directed by: Gregor Schnitzler
Original title: Was tun, wenn’s brennt? (literal translation: What to do when it’s burning?)

During the 80s, six anarchist friends wreak havoc in Berlin, and the opening credits show them planting a bomb that never went off. Fast forward a few years, and said explosive is inadvertently set off by an estate agent hoping to sell the now derelict building. With the police vowing to catch the culprits, the friends – whose lives have taken varying turns – are forced to come together to try and cover their tracks. While a couple of them (including Til Schweiger, now a regular Hollywood face in films such as Inglourious Basterds and This Means War) have stayed true to their roots, others have settled down or “sold out”, but initial conflicts soon give way to the old feeling of solidarity. 

Even though I speak German, the subtitles were definitely helpful because at times the actors spoke too quickly or quietly for me. However, there were a couple of moments when non-German speakers could have had problems because the subtitles appeared before the actor spoke, and there was one two-minute stretch with no subtitles at all. 

Films that try to lend comedy to violence can tread a very thin line – they’re planting a bomb, after all – but the audience is obviously supposed to root for the protagonists and laugh at the police. Unsurprisingly, events are given a typical cinema shine, and most of the actors are far more aesthetically pleasing than their real-life counterparts would have been. The reviews on the IMDb website offer interesting perspectives from viewers who actually lived in Berlin during the 1980s. As long as you’re not looking for an accurate historical depiction of the time and the place, there’s plenty of fun to be had here.

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