Foreign and indie movie god Film Movement fully shows what makes it (and its Film of the Month Club) spectacular with the August 7, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 German comedy "Bye Bye Germany." This film about Jewish Holocaust survivors in 1946 provides an interesting perspective about that period and shows that you can find humor in any situation.
The first bit of general good news is that "Germany" reflects the philosophy of Mel Brooks and his peers that laughing at Hitler robs him of his power. The second bit of good news is that the film proves that a German journalist who asked Robin Williams why there was no comedy in Germany was wrong about the lack of humor in that country. It is understandable that many do not consider the response of Williams that the Germans killed all the funny people to not be humorous.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Germany" shows how this film puts a Yiddish spin on "Glengarry Glen Ross"
"Germany" centers around concentration camp survivor David Bermann. The obvious good news for him is that he no longer needs to fear for his life every day. The first bit of less-than good news is that he lacks the necessary money to restart the linen business of his family to earn the money needed to emigrate to America. The worst news is that suspicion of Nazi collaboration is preventing him from getting a necessary license that the Americans are issuing German Jews.
Bermann entering a partnership allows him to get back into business; clearing his name requires a series of interviews with U.S. Army investigator Sara Simon. Stating that that pair gets off on the wrong foot is a large understatement.
This leads to Bermann dividing his time between joining his team in hilarious cons to get Germans to pay absurdly inflated prices for falsely hyped linens and telling Simon his story. A highlight of the former is a "Paper Moon" style scam in which Team Bermann falsely tells a recent widow of a large order by her husband before his sudden and untimely death.
The flashbacks of the time in the camp that accompany the sessions with Simon provide a fascinating (but not necessarily accurate) look at the life of the inmates. The general idea is that the camp commander catching Bermann in the act of telling a joke in the barracks leads to a command performance at a Christmas party for the guards, which leads to direct contact with Hitler. The only verified portion of the story is that Bermann receives the preferential treatment that puts him on the radar of the U.S. Army.
The middle ground is the depiction of the daily lives of Jews in the immediate period following the end of the war. One scene involves Bermann coming face-to-face with a former German officer who is responsible for the deaths of family members; another has a housewife trying to convince Bermann that the average German was unaware of the Holocaust while it was occurring.
Of course, there is one or more surprising reversal of fortune and other twists. The highly valid bases for resentment intensify them.
All of this concludes with the fairy tale vibe that is required to make any movie centered around these horrific events palpable. Not everyone ends up literally or figuratively where he or she expected but do get at least some closure.
The Bonus Short Film that accompanies every Club selection is "Strings" this time. This very clever animated film that uses a flowing white line against a black background is an homage to an Israeli violin maker who restores instruments from the Holocaust as a symbol of eternal hope.
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