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    Time, transformation and tradition in Oskar Roehler's 'Die Unberührbare'

    Leal, Joanne (2006) Time, transformation and tradition in Oskar Roehler's 'Die Unberührbare'. German as a Foreign Language 2006 (1), pp. 76-89. ISSN 1470-9570.

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    Oskar Roehler’s Die Unberührbare (1999/2000) explores its protagonist’s traumatized response to the fall of the Wall. As a Marxist-Leninist with political roots in the anti-capitalist movements of the late 1960s, she has long been committed to the notion of the GDR as the ‘better Germany’ even while embracing a Western lifestyle. This paper explores the sense of loss she experiences at the demise of the GDR and shows it to be less a political than an existential trauma, one rooted in her inability to come to terms with the fact that time cannot stand still in either a personal or a political sense, and one which culminates in her self-destruction. It goes on to argue that while the film rejects the attempt to hold back time which constitutes the paradoxically self-destructive survival strategy of its central figure and apparently accepts the inevitability of historical progress, it nevertheless seems to participate in a kind of nostalgia not dissimilar to that it criticizes in the portrayal of its central figure. With its overt critique of Western capitalism it glorifies what is presented as a specifically East German sense of community. Moreover, it pays homage to a tradition of socially-critical film-making rooted in a pre-Wende context. In both these respects it risks becoming as anachronistic as its central character but, as this paper demonstrates, ultimately it avoids doing so.


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