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Bye Bye Germany
Bye Bye Germany takes place post-war and focuses on the lives of several Holocaust survivors who are trying to raise money to leave behind Germany and enter the United States. It's actually a comedy-drama exploring the characters turning point to try and live a better life again. The film is from director Sam Garbarski (Vijay and I).
David Bermann (Moritz Bleitbreu) leads the way for the group attempting to leave Germany. He has several ideas for how to raise the money to say goodbye to Germany for good. Each individual ends up selling overpriced linen. They essentially becomes "salespeople" and they work to raise funds little by little.
Bermann also encounters an American special agent named Sara Simon (Antje Traue). She begins to ask a number of questions about him. They begin having conversations with one another while she works to unravel his past. Will Bermann and his friends be able to move past tragedy to arrive in America? Can they raise enough funds by selling linens?
The film is primarily comedic in tone and attempts to be a uplifting comedy-drama about survivors of the holocaust. This sets it apart from most films about this period. It goes without saying that there are few films that are comedies about holocaust survivors so this certainly makes this film's approach unique.
It does feel a bit odd to have a film centered around Jewish holocaust survivors which has a comedic sensibility. However, the filmmaker's ideology is clearly represented: comedy is the best medicine. Yet the serious events of the Holocaust are not the focus here. It's a story about these characters, brimming with life, as they try to continue to live to the fullest.
The music by Renaud Garcia-Fons (Sperling) is light and whimsical. The score is complimentary to the narrative drive. The cinematography by Virginie Saint-Martin (Thomas in Love) gives the film a surprisingly colorful look (whereas most postwar movies related to the Holocaust have more muted colors). The costume design by Nathalie Leborgne (Mr. Nobody, The Treatment) feel fitting for the characters and time-frame.
The screenplay was written by Michael Bergmann (Otto: Der Katastrofenfilm) and Sam Garbarski. Garbarski also directed. The story is one that takes an unusual approach to a difficult time.
This is a well-meaning film that aims to emphasis hope in dark times. The filmmakers goal was clearly to put some humanity and hope into a postwar period. The approach doesn't fully work but the goal of the director is genuine. The film's focus upon the characters is something that makes the film more rewarding in small ways. Bye Bye Germany doesn't entirely work as a comedy but the film has enough whimsy to see once.
Bye Bye Germany is presented in the original 1.85:1 widescreen theatrical aspect ratio. That's the best thing about this film's presentation. It's a poor encode with rather aggravating macroblocking and compression woes. There are many scenes with poor compression artifacts that it really detracted from the viewing experience significantly. Colors are often garbled looking. The whole presentation looks messy and uneven. While the poor quality encoding mainly affects background imagery, it's still a detriment to the overall presentation.
The audio is presented in stereo 2.0 Dolby Digital or 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound. Either one of these sound mixes should suffice given the source material. It's a somewhat flat and uninvolving sound mix even with the surround sound presentation. There is little activity in the surrounds and only some minor expansion of the score and the occasional sound effect.
Optional English Subtitles are included.
Strings (3 min.) is a short animated film which was inspired by the work of Israeli violin maker Amnon, who worked tirelessly to restore violins from during the Holocaust so that they could be played again to bring hope to the Jewish community.
Bye Bye Germany Trailer
Trailers for other Film Movement releases.
Bye Bye Germany is a comedy-drama about holocaust survivors. Yes, that is really how the genre would be classified. No, that is not an error in the description. Unfortunately, the film doesn't fully work but it's still a worthwhile effort by director Garbarski. The story has a charming cast of unique characters to make it worth checking out once.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.