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Deutschstunde (The German Lesson)
Germany 2019

Opening 3 Oct 2019

Directed by: Christian Schwochow
Writing credits: Heide Schwochow, Siegfried Lenz
Principal actors: Ulrich Noethen, Tobias Moretti, Levi Eisenblätter, Johanna Wokalek, Sonja Richter

Siggi Jepsen (Tom Gronau) is a reform school "inmate" and is assigned to write an essay on "The Pleasures of Duty". Because he hands in an empty paper, he is put into solitary confinement to write. Alone with his thoughts he proceeds to write day after day his memories of his childhood in a north German village on the sea. And so we have a story of Germany during World War II that doesn't portray war as we have seen it before.

Siggi's father Jens Ole Jepsen (Ulrich Noethen) is an extremely strict father and policeman. He does his job by the books. He receives an order from high up to forbid Max Ludwig Nansen (Tobias Moretti) to paint. The fact that Max and Jens have always been friends is bypassed as Jens proceeds to fulfil his duty. Young Siggi (Levi Eisenblätter) gets caught in the middle. He is encouraged to spy on Max for his father as well as taking part in a scheme by Max to fool Jens. During this period Siggi actually hides a couple of Max's paintings with no one else's knowledge. In the meantime, Siggi's brother Klaas has gone AWOL from the army and Siggi is also a conspirator in hiding him.

A perverted sense of duty is always present. The film is naturally adapted from the novel of the same name by Siegfried Lenz, which was published 50 years ago and clearly shows how people and relationships are ruined by fascism and authoritarianism. (Thelma Freedman)

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