Germany is still looking back and trying to explain what happened before and after 1945. This time, Lars Kraume has directed and drafted the script for this 1956 Berlin-based film 4K, based on the same title story written by Dietrch Garstka. The Silent Revolution is a film that puts us in the period of the “cold war” and that says a lot about the mentality (and naivety) of young Germans and their misunderstanding about what had happened before 1945 and what happened afterwards.
Film based on history events
To understand the plot, it is necessary to make some clarifications: shortly before, in 1952, there had been riots in East Berlin (controlled by the Soviets) due to the disagreement of the population about the new social laws regarding wages and work quotas. The incidents lasted for several days and only ended with the intervention of Russian tanks, resulting in several hundred deaths and thousands of accused. Obviously, the censorship of the communist regime dismissed these incidents as a “counter-revolutionary spark” and tried to report as little as possible. But rare was the family that did not have someone retaliated or who knew someone closely. All the young protagonists of The Silent Revolutionthey were in this situation, they knew the events, even the father of one of them had been retaliated.
When the echo of these incidents was not extinguished, there was the Hungarian insurrection, the assault on the headquarters of the Communist Party and the political police and the widespread protest that shook the top of Hungarian communism, which had to resort to Russian tanks. to reestablish its hegemony. Here the dead were thousands and tens of thousands of the processes initiated and those who fled on their way to exile. The Berliners were unaware of these incidents because of the regime’s fierce censorship. However, one of the protagonists decides to go to West Berlin to place some flowers on the grave of his grandfather, former SS, with whom he felt very close and when he sees a film banned in East Berlin he learns that he is fighting in the streets of Budapest and the Hungarian capital is burning.
It must be said that at that time he had not yet risen from the “Berlin wall” and that there was fluid communication between the German Federal Republic and the German Democratic Republic. Upon returning to school, the young man tells his classmates what he has seen in the other part of Berlin and what is happening in Hungary. So they decide to make a minute-long protest, claiming that, among the news that appeared, there is the death of the footballer Puskas in the fighting. That minute of silence, raises the alarm among the professors of the institute who communicate with the Ministry of the Interior so that they carry out an investigation into what has happened and what may happen…
Such is the script for The Silent Revolution. There is a before and after that minute of silence. What Kraume’s film shows us is the sinisterness of those regimes. In the film we see reflected all the characters that were present in that postwar Berlin, from the insecure teacher, to the inflexible official, from the lukewarm to the repressor, from the naive young man to the one who intuits what is happening on the other side of the border, in the streets of Budapest (which is nothing more than what happened a few years before in Berlin, only amplified in drama) and that he would like to denounce.
The film is interesting for several reasons: firstly because it touched on a subject that until now had not been dealt with in the cinema (how the Hungarian revolt was seen by young Germans), secondly because that minute of silence is what makes Moving adolescents into adulthood is the key moment that will change their lives. This transit is achieved by the harshness of the situations they face: betray or remain silent and by judging critically those they believed to be perfect up to that moment. It also shows the union of a group and the strength of a single minute of silence in the Berlin of those years. It also finally shows us that those young men in 1956 were largely unaware of what their parents had done fifteen years earlier during World War II, and even of what had happened in their own city four years earlier. All this through precise and colorful brushstrokes.
The film, above all, is well told, the interpretations of the young actors are convincing and precise and at no time does it fall into demagoguery or heel the balance to one side or the other. Tom Gramenz, Jonas Dassler, Leonard Scheicher, among others. The photography direction of Jens Harant is perfect.
The silent revolution will not appeal to those who once believed that the communist regime could be applied simply because half of Europe had been occupied by the Soviet army, but as the history buff scratches and digs in those years, it is hard to deny that It was a dark and sinister era that this film reflects with commendable realism.
The film can be defined as another sign of Germany’s interest in reviewing its past history and performing a catharsis. It is not the first Kraume film on this subject. In 2015 he shot The Fritz Bauer case and in 2010 The Coming Days that demonstrate this director’s preference for historical review.