Germany, Pale Mother (Deutschland Bleiche Mutter)

Helma Sanders-Brahms based this story of a family torn apart by Hitler's preparations for war and the invasion of Poland on her parents' own story, and included documentary footage because “I knew: that is what the war was like, the war I saw in the first years of my life; these were and are the images which sometimes still occur in my dreams....” The film follows a young woman, Helene, whose new husband - militantly pro-Nazi, where she is not - is sent to the front. Helene has her child alone, battles her own way through the war, and develops the strength to survive without her husband. When he returns, she is unable to take on the role of wife: “‘Reconstruction' and the ‘Economic miracle' become just as intolerable to her as the little family which is supposed to carry on as if nothing happened.” In 1950, Helene is ill and embittered; it is her daughter who saves her from suicide.
In a prologue written in 1976, Sanders-Brahms invites Germany, Pale Mother to be taken not just as an indictment of National Socialism (which it is), but as an attempt to break into the silence, now an institution, between her generation and that of her parents. “This story, quite individual, has been experienced by millions.... I believe our parents are looking for someone too who will tell them their story. Not moralizing...but instead so that they can recognize it again and reflect upon it again...instead of suppressing it further and further.... How are we better....? Our self-righteousness is that of he who laughs into the mouth of the tiger: the lion won't eat me up.”
Trained by Pasolini and Corbucci, Helma Sanders-Brahms made her first documentary in 1970 and, shortly afterwards, her first fiction film. In 1977, her feature Heinrich received the Federal Republic's top film award, the Golden Bowl. Germany, Pale Mother had its U.S. premiere at Los Angeles' Filmex '80.

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