The Day Bobby Ewing Died

Director: Lars Jessen

Germany| 2005. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby stereo SR. 88 min.

Winner of this year’s prestigious Max Ophuls prize for ‘Best Director’, Lars Jessen’s impressive debut feature is set in the mid-’80s, when the green movement in Germany is very active. Following his parents’ divorce, 17-year-old Niels moves with his mother Hanne from their middle-class life in Bremen to a hippie commune in Schleswig-Holstein, not far from the nuclear power plant construction site at Brokdorf. For Hanne this is an exciting step into a new world, but Niels feels unhappy in the unfamiliar environment and rebels when his mother revives a love affair with commune guru Peter. Partly to impress the local mayor’s daughter, Niels joins a resistance movement that’s willing to use violence in its fight against the nuclear plant. Director Jessen observes these idealistic and confused characters with a sympathy that doesn’t hide the absurdity of their positions. At its best, his film manages to combine the comic and the serious in a single sequence. A good example is when some of the less politically correct members of the commune insist on watching Dallas on television and are surprised to learn of the death of Bobby Ewing. But the real surprise comes minutes later when the TV news announces the catastrophe at Chernobyl, reminding everyone of the reality of the nuclear threat.

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