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Born in '45 

Wednesday, Aug 9 2006
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Divorce, East German–style, is the starting point of Born in ’45, in which cowriter and director Jürgen Böttcher gradually pulls back from the young couple at the story’s center to reveal an entire restless postwar generation unwilling to commit. When maternity-ward nurse Lisa calls it quits with Alfred, a 23-year-old auto mechanic stuck in self-absorbed adolescence, she moves into his mother’s basement, while Alfred takes up where he presumably left off, cruising East Berlin on his motorcycle and hanging out with his equally adrift friends. The write-up on the back of the DVD compares Böttcher’s black-and-white, hand-held photography to neorealism and the French New Wave, but if Böttcher was channeling Godard it was via the British mod flicks of the early 1960s, from the shaggy hair to the Beatle boots. If that sounds swinging, it is, sort of. Böttcher proves less interested in thrill-seeking itself than in the restlessness behind the hunt. He depicts each night on the town with long, sparse establishing shots that punctuate the lassitude that drives Alfred’s carousing. (Alfred gets so bored that, at one point, he cuts his vacation short to go back to work.) The film finally anticlimaxes in an extended sequence at a crowded dance hall where sozzled East German hipsters listlessly sway to a pop beat, marking time before the onrush of an empty future. East German officials banned the film in 1966, presumably for its racier moments, although Böttcher’s total lack of faith, or even interest, in politics may have made the censors just as nervous. Released by First Run Features, the disc includes an interview with director of photography Roland Gräf, a documentary on East German film censorship and an essay by film historian Rolf Richter.

—Paul Malcolm

Other recommended new releases: Airplane: The “Don’t Call Me Shirley” Edition (DVD); Hustle & Flow (DVD); Sealab 2021: Season 4 (DVD). Also released this week (DVD): Adam and Steve; Aeon Flux: Special Collector’s Edition; Anne of Avonlea; Barefoot Gen; Beautiful People: The Complete First Season; Brick; Bring It On: All or Nothing; Dante’s Cove: Season 1; Don’t Come Knocking; Elizabethtown; Farscape: Season 4, Collection 2 (Starburst Edition); The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: The Complete Fourth Season; Gilles’ Wife; Heidi; The Hidden Blade; Inside Man; Laguna Beach: The Complete Second Season; Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector; Last Holiday; The Lost City; Noah’s Arc: The Complete First Season; Prison Break: Season One; Rolling Stones: Under Review; Third Man Out; Ultimate Avengers 2; The Wire: The Complete Third Season; Xiaolin Showdown: The Complete First Season.

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