This large-scale German historical drama tells of the fall of Berlin to Russian troops in 1945 from an unusual perspective. Based on a diary published in 1959 by an anonymous, Russian-speaking German journalist (played by Nina Hoss), the film goes beyond the usual assumptions about Russian brutality and rape – without denying either – to offer a more forensic look at life in the occupied city. There are stark scenes of violence and forced sex, but the film also looks at more pragmatic partnerships between Russian soldiers and German women as the latter are forced to take extreme measures to survive. The tenderness afforded to the relationship between ‘anonyma’ and a Russian major (Yevgeni Sidikhin) offers an illuminating contrast with the grotesque carnival unfolding around the pair and the film tries hard to understand both sides of the divide and offer a strong sense of life across a whole, beleaguered city.
Friday February 12 2010