"Wir sind jung. Wir sind stark." or "We Are Young. We Are Strong." is a German movie that is also almost exclusively in the German language with the exception of a couple Vietnamese phrases. The film was released about two years ago and was written and directed by Burhan Qurbani, a name that is very fitting in terms of the subject as the movie is mostly about the acceptance of foreigners here in Germany. It runs for slightly over two hours and takes place in the German town of Rostock back in the early 1990s where people demonstrated violently against the German immigration politics, a subject that could not be any more relevant 25 years later today. Maybe this is also why the film received a great deal of awards attention, including a German Film Award for Swiss supporting actor Joel Basman, an Outstanding Feature Film nomination at the same event, a Bambi nomination and a German Screen Actors Award for Devid Striesow. With the exception of the last half hour, the movie is in black-and-white.
The focus is on a group of young men living in Rostock around that time and how they are immediately confronted with the events, especially with how it all rises in terms of the conflict and the tension. Apart from the ones I already mentioned, the cast features Trebs, Rosendahl and Nay, some of the biggest acting prospects from Germany. Another reviewer wrote that the film is more about this group of people than about the actual events and I would agree with that for the most part. The scenes with the Vietnamese as well as the last half hour feel a bit rushed in to give the film more relevance in terms of the subject. It is mostly a really fictitious work and the accurate historic references, such as the fact that the police left for a while are scarce. Of course, I did not expect an almost documentary-like film, but I feel that it could have been better with regards to the city and time when/where it takes place, just because it is such an interesting period and it is also one that (with all the German Nazi movies) has not yet received the consideration it deserves. But just like with the NSU, movies about Nazis in Germany long after 1945 become much more frequent apparently, so maybe it will in the future.
Anyway, the one aspect I really enjoyed about this film is how it shows us that it was impossible to stay away from the political climate. The ways in which you identify yourself with one side of the movement may have been very different (compare Nay's through love/sex, Striesow's through his already existing beliefs and Basman's through experiencing violence first hand), but you had to step up for what you think was the right choice. Abstention was pretty much impossible. I already mentioned the scene involving violence against Basman's character and it is somewhat telling that this moment turned him into one of his aggressors, maybe also as means of self-protection and the way they used "Time After Time" in that scene made it one of the best scenes of the movie. I think the music was generally one of the film's biggest strengths and this also refers to the inclusion of the Internationale on another occasions. Overall, the movie had occasional weaknesses (the female characters felt very irrelevant at times or the transformation of Nay's character at the very end may have been too drastic to be believable as he was always one of the shy guys), but as a whole the movie works pretty well and is certainly worth checking out for everybody with an interest in German (history) movies. I give it a thumbs-up.
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