Director: Margarethe von Trotta | 136 minutes | drama, war | Actors: Katja Riemann, Maria Schrader, Jutta Lampe, Doris Schade, Martin Feifel, Jürgen Vogel, Fedja van Huêt, Carola Regnier, Svea Lohde, Plien van Bennekom, Jutta Wachowiak, Romijn Conen, Jan Decleir, Julia Eggert, Thekla Reuten
Although the Second World War seems to have been pushed into the background by September 11, major productions about the Holocaust can still count on a lot of attention, especially when it concerns a German film, such as “Rosenstraße”. This film tries to bring together the suffering of Aryan and Jewish Germans in World War II, based on the true story of Aryan women who resisted the Nazis. The story follows the pattern of traditional Holocaust film by examining the lives of individual war victims at a slow pace. However, there are also some innovative elements. The war story is embedded in a story set in the present. This gives it a twenty-first-century dimension, namely that of the past that influences the present. The young American Hannah learns through the war story the unspeakable suffering of her mother, who was a seven-year-old girl at the time, and can therefore understand her harsh behavior. At the end of the film, the circle is complete and his mother and daughter come closer together.
It is a successful way to tell a story. You watch the past with Hannah all the time and through the flashbacks a film unfolds into a film. The whole thing just gets going slowly and it takes a while to get into it, partly due to the length of the opening scenes in Ruth’s house in New York. In contrast, at the end of the film, little time is taken for Ruth’s confrontation with her daughter and the past, as if it had been enough after two hours.
The acting performances of the German protagonists have been successful, especially Katja Riemann as the young Lena. Thekla Reuten may, in a supporting role as the wife of one of the prisoners, show that she is completely at home in these kinds of films, but Jan Decleir and Fedja van Huêt deserve a bigger role given their status. Speaking of these actors, this film was reminiscent of “Character” in terms of atmosphere and historical decor. “Rosenstraße” has its drawbacks, but it is convincing.