Rabbit la Berlin

3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars


Bunnies! Cute, little, wriggling noses. But how scared they seem when the construction crews roll into Potsdamer Platz and get to work on what would become the Berlin Wall in 1961. Bartek Konopka's shortish documentary boasts some absorbing black-and-white archival footage (supplemented with freshly recorded sound) and an ironic central point: Rabbits, though trapped in a hazardous no-man's land, thrived vigorously in the unmussed meadow for decades. The doc's straining for a larger, Varda-esque metaphor about the sad humans on the sidelines is ill-advised. So, too, is a weird post-Fall coda (will the animals survive?) that takes on an overly precious PETA-in-the-war-zone tone. Still: bunnies!

Perhaps as a counterweight, Film Forum is showing a somber half-hour short beforehand, Nurit Aviv's "Loss" (2003)---the original title, "Father's Land," is more apt. In it, political theorist Hannah Arendt seethes on a 1964 chat show about the acquiescence of intellectuals to Nazism. Meanwhile, we're on a train cruising through Berlin. Other talking heads are superimposed over the shifting landscape. You'll either be held rapt by comments about the influence of Jewish thinkers before Hitler's rise, or feel like you're trapped in a coach compartment with an extremely talkative relative.

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