AS WE WERE DREAMING
Germany, 2015, 117 minutes, Colour.
Merlin Rose, Julius Nitschkoff, Joel Basman, Frederic Haselon, Marcel Heuperman.
Directed by Andreas Dresen.
Director Andreas Dresen some years ago made a film about elderly people and their relationships, Cloud 9. This time he has focused on children at school and young teenagers. And he presents a fairly grim picture.
The film is based on a well-known novel which takes placed in East Germany, the GDR, during the 1980s, the buildup to the Berlin Wall coming down and what life was like in East Germany at this time, the indoctrination that the children received at school, the expected loyalties to the government and to the state, the role of the teachers and their influence on the students, but the squalor of the aftermath as the students found a certain amount of freedom, gangs were formed in the cities and towns, the response to the music, the kind of hard rock mentality, the availability of drugs, the rebellion against adults are all dramatised in a way that will have a resonance on those who lived through this experience but could be quite alienating to an audience just looking in.
In fact, this presentation of young people, seeing them as good little children at school with high hopes, and then seeing how they turned out within 10 years, many of their lives in ruins, some dead from drug overdoses, others operating as dealers, some trained in boxing but falling foul of organisations and indulging in violence, one of the girls becoming a stripper.
Much of the action is seen from the point of view of the central character, Danny, who finds his friend Mark in squalid circumstances and drugs trauma. There are flashbacks, not only to childhood days, but also to the events and interactions which led to this situation.
Probably important as a record of difficulties in this particular time, the time when people were dreaming of what might be, but this is something of the harsh reality.
1. The 21st century perspective on East Germany, in its seclusion, politics, in the aftermath of the wall coming down, the picture of the young gangs?
2. The GDR, the small city, homes, the streets, the clubs, the world of boxing, drugs and dealing, gangs and bashing? Prisons?
3. The musical score, the music of the time, the beat, loud…?
4. The main story about the five young men, at school, growing up, teenagers, the influence of teachers in the school, principal, parents?
5. The flashbacks to the boys at school, getting the lectures about socialism, the Pioneers and their loyalty and expressions, the whole atmosphere of communism and socialism? The principal’s speeches? The children and the panel of teachers? The teacher later meeting Danny and admitting that they did not answer the children’s questions? The criticism of the politics of the GDR, the kind of brainwashing for loyalty, the socialism not preparing young people for life in the “real world”?
6. The opening, Danny searching for Mark, Mark and his addictions, the severity? this giving the opportunity for the main story?
7. The group, their friendship, interactions, dependencies? The rival gang, the brutality, the fights and the bashings?
8. Danny, the focus of the story, a good boy at school, mischievous, growing up, with the group, the music, the shoplifting, the police and hiding, the vandalism? Getting the club, the clientele? The rivals and the destruction of club, the beatings? His attraction towards Starlet, discussions with her? The police bringing him home, the reaction of his mother, her working hard, telling him off, yet his love for her? The wanting him to study and succeed? His being bashed by the group, after being chased? His smashing the shop window? The police, his having to go to prison for four weeks, the experience in prison, getting out, meeting up with the friends? The changes? His meeting up with Paul and their having a drink? Mark’s going to hospital? Dying? Danny blaming Pitbull because of his drug dealing? Rico, boxing, not a success, having to give himself up to the police? Going to the strip club? Starlet and her being a pole dancer, his reaction to Rico and Starlet and the sex, seeing Rico with the police? Danny’s future?
9. Paul, spectacles, parents, preoccupied about the girl and sexuality? Being one of the gang?
10. Pitbull, loud, his family, one of the gang, going into drug dealing, the finale, the funeral and the drinks afterwards, Danny throwing the drink in his face?
11. Rico, good at boxing, the training, the various bouts, the long fight sequence and his defeat? Attacking the boxer afterwards? Not at the funeral, the drinks with Danny, discovering Starlet, the sexual encounter in the toilet, thinking Danny didn’t know? Danny accompanying him and his being handcuffed?
12. A grim portrait of promising youngsters at school and their becoming a kind of lost generation?