Sep 15, 2013

A Quiet, Simple, and Elegant Film: My Impression of the Film “Barbara”

I visited Eastern Europe, Berlin, Prague, and Budapest, in March 1990. At that time, the Berlin Wall had already fallen, but Germany had not yet reunited.

People could freely come and go over the borders between East and West Germany. I went through Checkpoint Charlie to East Berlin, and I visited retro-future TV tower and saw Ladas running on street.

On a night train from Berlin to Prague, I asked a passenger sitting next to me if Germany would reunite within a year, and he answered that he didn’t believe it would happen so soon. But, in fact, the reunification of Germany took place in October later that year.

Although I had actually visited East Berlin, it is now almost impossible for me to believe that one half of Germany was a communist state just twenty-three years ago.


“Barbara” is a German film about people living in East Germany in 1980. Barbara is a doctor who is being watched by the secret police.

It is one of the greatest German films that I have ever seen. There is no exaggeration or omission in this film. Every element in it is essential and I couldn’t find that anything that was superfluous.

This film is very quiet, because there is no background music. That makes audience concentrated in every tiny sound. Barbara was always nervous about the secret police, so she got surprised when the doorbell started to ring, and the audience also got really surprised with the sound of the doorbell, and fully understood her emotion.

Nina Hoss, as Barbara, is also great and attractive. She doesn't overact her role at all, but accurately conveys Barbara thoughts and emotions. After seeing her performance, most actors and actress became to look unnatural.

This film is quiet, simple, and elegant. If you love films, I strongly recommend you to see it.

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