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3 reviews, 8 user ratings

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Nowhere in Africa
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by Greg Muskewitz

"More than just another WWII history lesson."
5 stars

Caroline Link’s World War II film about a German-Jewish family’s escape of the Nazi regime by moving to Kenya.

The husband of a one-child family is absent at the outset of the film as he has scouted work and a roof to later send for his family. When they arrive, the young daughter is awe-struck by the new way of life while her mother expects the privileged life she left behind. (She coaxes the family-friendly servant to help her carry buckets of water, prompting the indigenous women to feign for help as well.) Link takes the position from early on to juxtapose the wife/mother’s racism or unacceptance of “negroes” without equating what Hitler and the Nazis are doing to the Jews. Of course, the difficult part is cogently persuading the viewer of her eventual turnaround and realization, but it’s capably done. The film convincingly conveys another lesser-known side and reality of World War II, which Link explores with deep compassion and concern. Her gentle, though thorough, probe is simultaneously intriguing and touching; as with the adjustment of living quarters, the film repositions itself to the growth of the daughter figure, who slowly ages over the course of the running-time. (One of Link’s prior films is Pünktchen und Anton, a kid’s movie, and similarly here her strongest skill is the child-like intake of information within the film, which suits an adult audience as well for its historical topicality.) The big lesson twists towards the more generic, but not any less true: “Differences are good, and intelligent people will never hold that against you.” But where Link and the film excel is within the portrait of the family and their miles and mountains overcome to survive. Equally, Nowhere in Africa benefits from the four strong cornerstone performances, beginning with the young daughter (well-followed by the second actress, but with less impact), the father, the mother and the servant. Where things face trouble is in the running-time, in need of some tightening through the editing department, perhaps overly zealous by thriving on the goldmine of information it has to share. With Juliane Köhler, Merab Ninidze, Lea Kurka, Karoline Eckertz, Sidede Onyulo, and Matthias Habich.

[Absolutely to be seen.]

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originally posted: 04/20/04 07:53:21
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/27/05 jeannie cave quite quite weepy but beautiful visually.wish i could find a reviewer i could trust! 5 stars
3/31/04 madeleine smith it was a good film. It showed how people escaped from Nazi Germany well. 4 stars
9/20/03 Vincent Palazzotto A very well structured storyline with an excellent cast! 5 stars
9/06/03 john great, delightful, rarely see on this fine 5 stars
6/15/03 Richard Watch this movie! Sidele Onyulo is in the cast and is fine! 4 stars
5/25/03 Mari Very realistic, moving story; ending not predictable. I'd see it again. 5 stars
5/07/03 Jim the movie geek Excellent story, performances and beautiful backdrop. Kenyans were great! 4 stars
4/28/03 Harold Beautifully shot 5 stars
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