On Monday, Erik Shoji did us a solid, and hooked us up with tickets to a film premiere at this year’s Berlinale.
While we’ve always wanted to see films at the Berlinale, getting ahold of tickets is famously difficult. Luckily, Erik has friends who are Berlinale fanatics i.e. they are willing and even eager to queue up at 5am.
These friends had two tickets for the Woman in Gold world premiere on Monday night. Woman in Gold stars Dame Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds (inexplicably), and Daniel Brühl. We were encouraged to dress up for event.
In anticipation of walking the same red carpet as those celebs, we got all dolled up. Upon arrival, it was immediately evident that we were NOT stepping foot anywhere near that carpet. We just gazed at it longingly.
We found our group, and joined a long line that was twisting around the backside of the theatre. Having been told by a German security guard that this was the place to be, we were perplexed by the absolute s*%$ show that began a few minutes later. What followed was a classic German experience. No communication from the organizers, and no respect for lines.
A small crowd began to form around the front entrance of the building. Suddenly, they all began surging through. Everyone who had been patiently waiting in line took a few tentative steps, and then ran to join the fray. The ticket scanners looked like triage nurses in a field hospital during the battle of antietam. We got our ticket scanned, and then joined the real mess. The doors to the theatre were still closed, so naturally, everyone began amassing in front of them. When the doors were finally opened, it was absolute black friday- style bedlam. I was bodyslammed into a wall. People were getting comically stuck in the doorway attempting to get through four abreast.
We got through, flopped into seats, and reflected that we were probably the fanciest dressed people in that stampede. That is, until Dame Helen Mirren entered.
I don’t know what work she’s had or hasn’t had done, or what deal she’s done with the devil…but the woman looks incredible.
The film recounts the true story of an Austrian Jew, Maria Altmann, who escaped to the United States during WWII. In addition to murdering and deporting her family members, the Nazis stole art from the family’s Vienna home, including Gustav Klimt’s “Woman in Gold”, a painting commissioned by Maria’s Uncle depicting her beloved Aunt Adele.
Some reviewers have faulted the film for overly dramatic, cloying emotional moments. However, viewing the film in Berlin, surrounded by Germans these scenes felt poignant and appropriate. For example: In the film, Maria refuses to speak German, and the prospect of going back to Austria fills her with anger and terror. It felt very familiar.
It is no secret, that Germany has very few Jewish residents, and it has been fairly unsuccessful in encouraging Jews to immigrate. I was reminded of conversations I’ve had with Jewish friends who do live here in Berlin. They have remarked that life is still a bit uncomfortable here. Further, they’ve a feeling that while the state of Germany has taken great pains to atone for and acknowledge the past, some Germans have an almost “it was so long ago now get over it” attitude about the Holocaust. Naturally, this is agonizingly frustrating and painful.
So, I dismiss some of those critiques. I will, however, fault the film for a relatively simplistic treatment of the legal and cultural issues surrounding the case. But enough about the film. Overall, we enjoyed it. Go see it if you want.
After the film, we had strangers take a picture for us.
Then before we left, we tried to take some selfies with the deserted red carpet.
In other Berlinale related news.
On Tuesday, I got to meet up with my hotshot Netflix boss friend, Amanda. She was here for a few short days for the festival, and it was really a treat catching up over lunch and too much tea. She recently met Tina Fey, and I’m so incredibly jealous.
I’ll just leave it there.