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Movie Screening “Das Wunder von Bern” – German Film Club

German Film Club

Cooperation between Kedai Kebun Forum (KKF) and Goethe Institut Jakarta

Wednesday, 4 July 2018, 7.00 pm
Auditorium, Kedai Kebun Forum (KKF)
Jl. Tirtodipuran 3, Yogyakarta
Open for public and free


Miracle of Bern, The (Das Wunder von Bern)

Director: Daniel Carsenty, 2014/15, drama/thriller, 90 min., Deutch with English subtitles
Casts: Haima Ilter, Tamer Yigit, Murat Seven, Asad Schwarz, Marc Philipps


A discerning portrait of the year 1954. The unexpected victory in the World Cup in Berne is linked with tough everyday life in the industrial Ruhrpott. A late homecomer from the war must come to terms with civilian life. All’s well that ends well. Germany wins the Cup and peace is restored in the family.

Time and place: the grey industrial Ruhr area in 1954. A family learns that the husband is returning from Russia. They wait for him at the border station, but he barely recognizes his family and indeed sees his son Matthias for the first time ever. The boy was born nine months after the man’s leave during the war. The man has difficulty coming to terms with his home area. The elder son supports the Communist Party KPD and will later leave and go to East Berlin when the atmosphere at home becomes too oppressive. Father also does not like the idea of mother and daughter working in a bar, particularly not when his daughter boogies with the occupying forces.

At the same time, the preparations are in full swing for the World Cup in Berne. Süddeutsche Zeitung sends a young, newly married reporter to cover the matches in Berne instead of on his honeymoon. Coach Herberger puts his team together. Young Matthias admires Helmut Rahn and carries his bag for him. After a series of major disputes at home, the father begins to realize, after talking with his wife and the local priest, that he must change his attitude. He borrows the priest’s car and surprises Matthias with a sudden trip to Berne to watch the final. Helmut Rahn also played in this match, after having remained on the sidelines in the previous matches. Matthias arrives while the match is in progress, makes his way into the stadium and suddenly the two are face to face. Rahn shoots the decisive goal. Matthias and his father return to Germany with the victorious team.

Let us recall the end of Fassbinder’s masterpiece “Die Ehe der Maria Braun”. It is July 1954 and we hear on the radio that Germany has won the World Cup. At that moment, Maria accidentally blows herself up. The end of a postwar career in Germany.

Wortmann is more modest, although he too is presenting more than just a football film. The title conceals two films which are linked by parallel footages and frequently displayed titles showing the time and date. A successful comedy director (“Kleine Haie” and “Der bewegte Mann”) and director of more demanding contemporary and local portraits (“Der Campus” and “St. Pauli Nacht”), Sönke Wortmann clearly did not intend simply to reproduce the World Cup matches of 1954. He was also and probably above all interested in portraying the time and place: 1954 in the so-called “Ruhrpott”, an industrial area at the beginning of the economic miracle. Expectations are still low, there are very few cars on the roads, traditional pigeon-breeding is still important; of course the women have to work and the people are prepared to pay 50 Pfennigs to watch the final on TV in the pub on the corner because they did not have TV at home.

It is an accurately drawn picture of the times, as is the confrontation between the late homecomer and his family who had to manage without him for years and whose lifestyle is almost unknown to him. Surely an accurate reflection of the times. The obedience and discipline demanded by the father no doubt recall the years before 1945. The father’s religious ties and the way in which he clouted his son on hearing that Matthias had bought a sacrificial candle for his idol Rahn are also plausible. Such scenes would be unthinkable in a modern film set in this working class environment. The line between the private story in the Ruhrpott and the final in Berne with the sudden trip to the football match is less plausible, for such a trip would have been almost unaffordable for a working man in those days. The film’s parallel story, which focuses on the football, is astonishingly reticent. The footballers’ rough but comradely world, in which a drinking bout is also covered by the others, is briefly outlined in scenes of the team training before the championship begins and then in a few qualifying matches. The decisive moments of the final are reproduced in a little more detail (with the actors selected on account of their football talents rather than their acting skills). It is not particularly dramatic, but skilfully produced, including the connection with the original words of the famous radio report by the reporter Zimmermann. These are interspersed with episodes between the text journalist and his wife who is initially anti-football, but later becomes an enthusiastic football fan.

The film’s political message could be summarized as follows: the victory on 4 July 1954 marked the rebirth of a healthy feeling of nationalism. We are not nobodies. The sporting part of the film is surprisingly subdued, which is rather unexpected for such a knowledgeable football supporter as Wortmann. The pictures of the grimy Ruhrpott and the difficulties of a late homecomer from the war integrating into postwar society are much stronger. The furnishings are remarkably accurate, even detailed, and almost more important than the characters. And precisely that is the problem of this film. The link between contemporary history and sport is not always successful. The members of the family also remain somewhat flat in character. Only Peter Lohmeyer as the embittered homecomer and Peter Franke as the quiet, self-confident national coach Herberger stand out.

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