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Category Archives: Germany

Toni Erdmann

I don’t remember writing about a movie for a while but the German comedy by Maren Ade deserved to be the darling of the last year Cannes Festival. It made such an impact that, if I understood correctly, Hollywood is planning a remake of the movie. The movie touched a painful chord, the dehumanization of people working for large and high demanding corporations, impersonal monster companies that treat people just like bodies that have to perform. The movie is shot in Bucharest, a perfect setting in a country where the “multi-national companies”, as they call there the corporations, make the law facing a series of corrupt governments and muscle flexing policies of Brussels or Berlin.  Ines, a consultant for a large global marketing consulting firm, does not smile the entire movie because her life is so focused on the job and screwed up chasing an elusive career, in meeting with boring executives, living alone in impersonal hotel rooms or apartments, incapable of having sex, with no time for herself while accompanying  boring diplomats’ wives to the “one of the best malls in Europe where no Romanian affords to buy anything”. Ines’ life so well resembles the life of a Manhattan employee in high demanding job, living in luxury apartments but with no life of their own, except going to bar at night, so well portrait also in “margin call”. They work just to be thrown out as a rotten tooth when the company does not need them anymore or they get burned out. However in the movie, the relentless pursue of her father, Toni Erdmann, eventually soften her, breaking her insane bubble, realizing her conundrum and decides to quit just to get hired by the competition.

Of course, watching the movie from the New York’s perspective, is hard to avoid thinking of the American Republican politics that try as much as possible to disposes the middle class, lowering the taxes for the rich and eliminating a well fought medical insurance. The spineless Republicans, fully responsible for the conundrum of the current Administration, in bed with large corporate donors who hate even the idea of portable medical insurance, are the main architects of blocking all the measures that would empower the middle class in America, a country where the taxes that you pay are buying exclusively more planes and bombs to kill people around the world.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2017 in Blog, Germany, USA

 

Die Himmel uber Berlin…

Berlin

Berlin, Germany

I am not one of the fallen angels but I felt so much for this sky landing in Berlin, so dearly remembered from the Wim Wenders movie translated into English as “Wings of Desire”. I looked towards Berlin from the sky over a city that last time when I visited it was divided and I remembered standing two blocks away from the wall and trying to figure out myself, what many Germans tried for generations, how to grow wings and fly over the infamous wall toward the much desired freedom. On the road in front of me the Stasi patrols on fast motorbikes were zipping to and fro trying to deflect people like me who were thinking about escaping.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2016 in Blog, Germany

 

Merkel

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“Ms. Merkel, we have lots of refugees at the border”
“From Siria? Let them in”
“No, there are Germans. They want out”

The Sunday elections in Germany spelled out what for many months most of us born in Europe were expecting: the electoral sign of the demise of the only European leader who was able to lead and rule Europe in the recent years. Because in spite of her major flaw in the migrant crisis Angela Merkel stands out in Europe as a real leader, a person that fought for a unified Europe even if according to her detractors this fight was more about the German’s interests control of Europe. Her stature is even more imposing when compared with its counterparts, a French President who would be more appropriate as a cheese supermarket manager, his English colleague who wants to have as little as possible with Continental Europe or the other European leaders who are either bland and insignificant or are perfect copies of the old Communist apparatchiks we were used with in Eastern Europe, fearful of losing their jobs and speaking only in slogans in what we used to call in Romania the “wood tongue:”. However Merkel was always different, in spite of being accused of ex-Communist links or as being a good friend of Putin, she was a leader whose staunch approach was able to keep somehow glued the EU, a marriage of loose interests with no love whatsoever.
But the migrant crisis changed everything and with it came tumbling down the foundation of her statue. Long hidden under the rug by the controlled German media, the migrant “problem” became a real migrant “crisis” funneled mainly by her irrational and irresponsible attitude of inviting all migrants to come to Germany. So besides the Syrians who came as war refugees an entire horde of Africans, South Asians and Afghans decided to risk their life and savings to follow the invitations of “Muti”, that never thought in her German organized mind what it means to have a real MultiKulti on your hands and refusing to accept that people are different, culturally, socially and even intellectually. The communists and now the post-communist of various flavors were always zesting of mixing people and create the masonic ideal of a diversified society exemplifying the success of the United States but ignoring the 250 years of “melting pot” making as well as the fact that no white CEO would live on the same street with an African poor Muslim anywhere in the States. The money would keep them worlds apart.
For many Europeans who already considered Merkel to be too bossy, her request to invite people and after that to force other countries to take them in was the last straw. The opposition started first by the Eastern European countries where people lived for 50 years under regimes that forced words in their mouths and now they refused to accept this anymore, and followed by the Scandinavians, the Brits and in the end the French. A process that left Merkel not only alone in Europe but left with few supporters in Germany with many in her party and coalition sister parties deserting her position. The upcoming success of Pegida and AFD is no “new” news for the Europeans who knew that right wing is very healthy in spite of years of communism or out-casting. So Merkel’s acts not only that created a mess that would be hardly manageable in the ordered Germany, with one more million unemployed and most of them unemployable, but also gave a good pretext for the rise of these groups that otherwise stayed silent in their corners drinking German beer. It’s sad how a apparently innocuous gesture, gracious at it may have looked to be, brought so much dissatisfaction to the Germans.
Of course, with thousands of people at the border and a haunting history, Angela had to do something and the right way to do it would have been to accept the already moving migrants in small chunks in Germany. But Europe never acted like fully grown ups. When the iron curtain fell in 1989, the sense we, the Eastern European, got talking with people in the west was that they looked like a coddled group of people blessed by history and protected by the Americans forces that forgot their role and acted only by some kind of inherited rights that the entire world should know to respect and accept. Handling conflict in the fledgling union and around its borders or the protection of their own borders was never a concern, like no bad thing would ever happen to them. Europe signed the convention of the refugees but they never created camps, outside or inside their border, to screen the migrants like the Americans were doing for more than 50 years. And as usually when something major happens everybody is taken by surprise and nobody had any clue what to do and how to handle the crisis so the old reflex went into effect and the Germans  started to censor the media on anything that involved migrants, only one example being the Cologne New Year mass molestation. It was an American paper that wrote first about the events that triggered the media coverage and the fallout outrage that followed.
Out of options and humiliated Merkel bent over in front of the loathed dictatorial Sultan taking a deal everybody hates that would bring more aggravation politically for her in Germany and in Europe. Luckily she was helped by the always dismissed East Europeans, this time Macedonians, who took upon themselves to solve the problem and close the migration route, a thing the politically-correct-left-wing-West-Europeans would never have done.
In the end Merkel would leave the political arena, a good and capable leader who was not wise enough to keep her mouth shut when she had to. Unfortunately what she unleashed may stay with Europe for a while and we know how it looks; we had another similar wave in Europe just about 80 years ago.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2016 in Blog, Germany

 

Munich, Germany

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Hofbrauhaus Band. Munich

Somehow we never made it to Germany to have a long shooting session. Maybe because I have been living there for quite a while and possible because we ended up many times on layovers in German cities from other shoots. But we finally put together a long delayed demo clip with the footage we shot during numerous short visits and we posted an album of frames from the short shoot in Munich, unfortunately curtailed by dim daylight of January.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2014 in Blog, Germany

 

Munich, Germany

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Rathaus in Marien Platz Munich

Munich, twenty six after. I lived here toward the end of the Cold War when an escape from behind the Iron Curtain was guaranteeing a safe passage to the world of the free. The communism was less dictatorial than it was stupid, a prison type utopia developed by sick minds who were looking how to enslave their subjects obliged to hail their nonexistent freedom. A system of non-believers in the society’s values and rulers.
I lived in Munich waiting for this passage and enjoying a city that was and still is part of the engine of this great country.
I found Munich very much the same as I left it. Newer and fresher, way more cosmopolitan and maybe less conservative but still classy and very neat. Hard working and tidy, the German love order and here is the key to the amazing success of the totally defeated nation of the Second World War that leads Europe nowadays. Few old things remained in Munich after the bombardments and what was built in a rush after the war was ugly and very utilitarian but even those buildings were modernized and cleaned up and the center of the city looks today like a jewel taken from a gilded case. I met my very dear friends with whom I shared great moments there and they told me more about their life in Germany about which I knew just bits and pieces, I found the story very comforting, the same story of a comfortable life similar with the one I heard living there years ago. They think like all Europeans that life has to be equitable for all, all with their insurance, with some money at the retirement, all enjoying a safe even maybe not so affluent life. They were content and very appreciative at the entire system over all, understanding also the needs of a flexible job market, a process that was initiated years ago in Germany and is swiping the entire continent. For them and the Europeans in general, America is still as remote in understanding as it was 50 years ago. The amazing earning opportunities are perceived as shadowed by the lack of personal life that in Europe still exist in spite of the intense work schedule and commute time. The lack of medical insurance and the the prevalence of guns are issues that are completely inconceivable to most Europeans. But what I felt the most is that the Germany I knew, flexible and refreshed after these years, is the same as the one I lived in, the same Germany of a secure life and stability that confer to the European model a viability even today in spite of the sirens singing its demise. Of course the European social model is perceived with caution especially when the Germans have to pour money in countries that are obviously bankrupt first in mentality more than in finance.

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Hofbrauhaus, Munich

Munich pedestrian area was decorated for winter holidays, all buildings being covered in lights and a skating ring being very alive in Staccus Square. The churches and all buildings around were looking sparkling new and Hofbrauhaus was bustling with people. Marien Platz had its best Christmas tree in years right near the Rathaus Building and people dressed elegantly were promenading the exclusive Maximilien Strasse  going to the Opera to see Traviatta.
Munich was same as I left it 25 years ago. Maybe I just woke up after a long sleep…

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2014 in Blog, Germany

 

Germany: Bavarian Castles

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Neuschwanstein Castle

We posted a picture album from the shooting we did in Southern part of Bavaria, Germany. We shot around the world renown castles, Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein, which used to be residencies of the Bavarian kings. For more information please check out our blog posting.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2013 in Blog, Germany

 

The Bavarian Kings’ Castles, Germany

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Hohenschwangau Castle, Germany

It is a good advise never to visit the same place twice. Especially when you want to do it after 25 years following a period when the tourism exploded like never before. I visited the castles from Southern part of Bavaria when I lived in Germany. It was before the fall of the Berlin Wall in a time when even the tourists looked like travelers. At that time you could drive all the way up to the castles, park, buy a ticket at the entrance and go inside for a relatively long visit. But nowadays the village at the base of the castles changed so much, with large parking places that barely could accommodate the number of cars and buses. Walking out of your parking place you see a huge line in the village and realize after a while that is a hour long wait to buy entrance tickets from a new ticket office, the only place in town that sells them. No more tickets at the castles’ entrance. In line everybody speaks anything but German with a consistent share of Americans coming only to the major European visiting spots and a huge share of Chinese, speaking loudly, who look to be all over. We bought a combination ticket for the two castles and started to walk to Hochenscwangau, the closest one in a drizzle that we hope will stop soon. In the morning when we woke up, the Alps around Obsteig where like wrapped in cotton candy. What we thought first that it was mist proved to be very low clouds. And many of them. It rained all night, a rain that started yesterday right after we finished the hike and it followed us on and off till after we had breakfast in Fernpass and we crossed the border in Germany at Fussen.
Hochenschwangau was the first castle of the Kings of Bavaria. It started as a small tower sometimes in the 14th century and passed through many hands, each one adding a style characteristic. In the end it came to be the residence of Ludvig the First, King of Bavaria who lived here with his family and about 50 servants for a long time. It is still owned by the same family of Bavarian Dukes who collects the entry fees but maintains the castle. The castle is interesting but for sure does not have the most inspired style of decoration inside, however its exterior, the entrance and the gardens are exquisite and ask for some exploring.

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Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle is a completely different story. Located at about 30 minutes walk from Hochenscwangau is a remarkable romantic construction representing maybe the most iconic image of a castle in the world. Buses and carriages can bring you up to the castle but the wait, especially on rain, is probably around 1 hour so I decided to walk up the access road. The rain that we hoped to taper off actually became more intense, a very German rain that make its cities sometimes dour and boring. The road was full of walkers, many Chinese who were talking loud that I thought I am heading not to the castle but to Chonquing. Both castles can be visited only on guided tours that start every 5 minutes the entire day and the timing is extremely precise.
Ludvig II of Bavaria, the grandson of Ludvig I, a young romantic king wanted to build a several castles in the style of the medieval times about which he read a lot. Inspired by the German legends and being a friend of Richard Wagner he started the building of the castle in 1868 using the vast amount of money from his grandfather. He was able to build a large part of the project till 1886 when he was deposed by the Parliament because he overdrew the accounts of the state. In order to remove him from the throne the Parliament declared him insane and somehow he was found drown in a lake three days latter together with his shrink doctor. What happens remained a mystery, because a legend is built easier on mysteries than on dour facts. The palace was opened as a museum several months after his death and is owned by the land of Bavaria.
The rain did not stop so we left the castle walking quickly downhill and drove till a village named Lahn in Austria where we had a great dinner, driving further to Innsbruck in even more rain.

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2013 in Blog, Germany