NOWHERE IN AFRICA Add To My Top 10

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Release Date: March 07, 2003

Starring: Juliane Köhler, Merab Ninidze, Karoline Eckertz, Lea Kurka, Matthias Habich, and Sidede Onyulo

Genre: Historical Drama

Audience: Adults REVIEWER: Dr. Ted
Baehr Some of the best movies
are Holocaust films, such as
SCHINDLER'S LIST and, to a
lesser degree, THE PIANIST.
NOWHERE IN AFRICA is not one
of them. It has some
commendable moments,
especially with regard to the
Holocaust, but the Holocaust
was really just a bookend for
the domestic troubles of this
family. Based on an
autobiographical novel, the
story is narrated by Regina,
the daughter of a German
lawyer named Walter and his
wife, Jettel. She says she can
hardly remember Germany as the
camera cuts from the vast
expanse and wasteland of
Africa to a group of children
playing and sledding in the
snow. She does remember her
grandfather, Max. Walter has
gone ahead to Africa to find a
home. Almost dying of malaria,
he is saved by an African
named Oueor. When the mother
and daughter arrive in this
forsaken area of the world,
Jettel is furious. Tensions in
the marriage are now major
rifts, and she denies herself
to her husband. However, she
has a roving eye for the
neighboring man. When the
English throw the women in one
concentration camp and the men
in another, she has an affair
with a British sergeant to
gain a favor. She even looks
longingly on the African
cook. The daughter meanwhile
is growing up as a native. She
views and finally participates
in their ceremonies. Her best
friend is a native boy. She
runs around topless with him,
even after she has developed
past puberty. In one native
ceremony, they kill a goat,
hold up its private parts to
the mountain god, eat its
liver and drink its blood. The
daughter has no trouble
getting used to this, but it
takes the mother a while to
get acclimatized. Eventually,
the family is reunited, but
Walter decides to join the
British armed forces, which
Jettel begrudges because she
has to take care of the farm.
At a critical moment, when a
horde of locusts is about to
destroy the farm, she sees
Walter who has come back to
save the crop. They are
reunited sexually, and
eventually she commits herself
totally to the
marriage. Walter is the moral
center to this movie. Although
he is not an observant Jew, he
understands racism, bigotry
and the problems Jews face. He
consistently tries to do the
right thing. Jettel relishes
anything different and
indulges in every flight of
fancy, including squandering
her money on an evening gown
when she leaves Germany. The
whole movie is her journey
from adolescent amorality to a
commitment to the marriage.
The daughter is caught between
these two worlds. Although she
goes native, she also retains
some sense of virtue and
dignity. Regrettably, as they
are leaving Kenya, she gives
homage to the native god. At
the time of Jesus, the Jews
were divided between the
believing Pharisees and the
secular Sadducees. This movie
seems to indicate that the
Sadducees have not changed.
Apparently, it is the
secularized and amoral parts
of the movie that may have
struck a chord in Hollywood
and made it an Oscar-winner
for Best Foreign Language
Film. VARIETY points out that
there were no R-rated movies
in the Top 20 Box Office List,
but most of the Academy Award
winners were R-rated. The sex
scenes in here may be steamy
enough that it would have gone
beyond R, if it had been
rated. One scene is
reminiscent of THE LAST TANGO
IN PARIS. The photography is
beautiful, the acting is very
good, the direction is
meticulous, but the story
wanders and the moral center
is not there, even though the
character of Walter offered
the filmmakers a chance to
make this a more moral
movie. Please address your
comments to: Nancy Gerstman &
Emily
Russo Co-Presidents Zeitgeist
Films 247 Centre Street, 2d
Floor New York City, NY
10013 Phone: (212)
274-1989 Fax: (212)
274-1644 Website:
www.zeitgeistfilm.com Email:
mail@zeitgeistfilm.com

Rating: Not Rated

Runtime: 138 minutes

Distributor: Zeitgeist Films

Director: Caroline Link

Executive Producer:

Producer: Peter Herrmann

Writer: Caroline Link BASED ON THE NOVEL BY: Stefanie Zweig

Address Comments To:

Content:

(HH, Pa, LLL, VV, SS, NN, A, D, M) Secular humanist worldview, with positive references to Native African religions; 14 obscenities and 4 profanities; brief violence includes pushing, shoving and threats of violence as well as scenes of animals being sacrificed and slaughtered with people eating the raw liver and drinking the blood of the slaughtered animal, and native cuts off private parts of sheep to wave to pagan god; several scenes of fornication and several instances of implied adultery; upper and rear female nudity and upper male nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, spiritism, witch doctor, native ceremonies, lying.

GENRE: Historical Drama

HH

Pa

LLL

VV

SS

NN

A

D

M

Summary:

NOWHERE IN AFRICA, a movie from Germany, is the winner of an Oscar® for Best Foreign Language Film and tells the story of a Jewish family that movies to Africa to escape the Holocaust by Adolph Hitler's National Socialist Party during World War II. The humanist and pagan elements in this movie, including excessive foul language and sexuality, make it unacceptable viewing according to biblical standards.

Review:

Some of the best movies are Holocaust films, such as SCHINDLER'S LIST and, to a lesser degree, THE PIANIST. NOWHERE IN AFRICA is not one of them. It has some commendable moments, especially with regard to the Holocaust, but the Holocaust was really just a bookend for the domestic troubles of this family.

Based on an autobiographical novel, the story is narrated by Regina, the daughter of a German lawyer named Walter and his wife, Jettel. She says she can hardly remember Germany as the camera cuts from the vast expanse and wasteland of Africa to a group of children playing and sledding in the snow. She does remember her grandfather, Max. Walter has gone ahead to Africa to find a home. Almost dying of malaria, he is saved by an African named Oueor.

When the mother and daughter arrive in this forsaken area of the world, Jettel is furious. Tensions in the marriage are now major rifts, and she denies herself to her husband. However, she has a roving eye for the neighboring man. When the English throw the women in one concentration camp and the men in another, she has an affair with a British sergeant to gain a favor. She even looks longingly on the African cook.

The daughter meanwhile is growing up as a native. She views and finally participates in their ceremonies. Her best friend is a native boy. She runs around topless with him, even after she has developed past puberty. In one native ceremony, they kill a goat, hold up its private parts to the mountain god, eat its liver and drink its blood. The daughter has no trouble getting used to this, but it takes the mother a while to get acclimatized.

Eventually, the family is reunited, but Walter decides to join the British armed forces, which Jettel begrudges because she has to take care of the farm. At a critical moment, when a horde of locusts is about to destroy the farm, she sees Walter who has come back to save the crop. They are reunited sexually, and eventually she commits herself totally to the marriage.

Walter is the moral center to this movie. Although he is not an observant Jew, he understands racism, bigotry and the problems Jews face. He consistently tries to do the right thing. Jettel relishes anything different and indulges in every flight of fancy, including squandering her money on an evening gown when she leaves Germany. The whole movie is her journey from adolescent amorality to a commitment to the marriage. The daughter is caught between these two worlds. Although she goes native, she also retains some sense of virtue and dignity. Regrettably, as they are leaving Kenya, she gives homage to the native god.

At the time of Jesus, the Jews were divided between the believing Pharisees and the secular Sadducees. This movie seems to indicate that the Sadducees have not changed.

Apparently, it is the secularized and amoral parts of the movie that may have struck a chord in Hollywood and made it an Oscar-winner for Best Foreign Language Film. VARIETY points out that there were no R-rated movies in the Top 20 Box Office List, but most of the Academy Award winners were R-rated. The sex scenes in here may be steamy enough that it would have gone beyond R, if it had been rated. One scene is reminiscent of THE LAST TANGO IN PARIS.

The photography is beautiful, the acting is very good, the direction is meticulous, but the story wanders and the moral center is not there, even though the character of Walter offered the filmmakers a chance to make this a more moral movie.

Please address your comments to:

Nancy Gerstman & Emily Russo

Co-Presidents

Zeitgeist Films

247 Centre Street, 2d Floor

New York City, NY 10013

Phone: (212) 274-1989

Fax: (212) 274-1644

Website: www.zeitgeistfilm.com

Email: mail@zeitgeistfilm.com

In Brief: