Ohne Rueckfahrkarte (1981)

Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - West Germany  |  
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This incisive film, an example of New German Cinema, is a wry and witty, biting and bitter take on the lives of a group of East German refugees in West Berlin at the end of the 1970's. Both the director Juergen Klauss, and the four principal actors in the film are East Germans who have gone through the same pains of adjustment that are confronted in the film. The story contrasts the experience of its central character, Max Rand (Stefan Staudinger), who arrives on an exit-visa and is really interested in going to the Maldive Islands, with seven roommates who long to go to West Berlin to "get a life." After they arrive, the roommates are supported by welfare and quartered in a condemned building, almost a symbol for their own fate. One roommate wants to enroll in the university to get a good education, only to find there are no openings available. All the compelling life quests, worthy of the time they spent in prison and this exile, crumble in the harsh reality of West Berlin with its different culture and political system. The roommates have to settle for jobs far below anyone's ideal, such as taking care of circus animals or working in a Peep Show, and that indignity exacerbates their loss of identity. As they straddle East and West German systems, trying to cope, some of the roommates just cannot make it. One becomes a terrorist, living constantly with the threat of capture and imprisonment, another commits suicide. In contrast, Max Rand may be politically unconscious - or simply much more aware, or both - but he goes through no soul-searching dilemmas. The ending of his story is quite different than that of the seven others.

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Keywords

immigrant, poverty, refugee, roommate, student, suicide, terrorism