Bernhard works as a warehouse clerk in Munich. After being sentenced to probation for a physical altercation with a right-wing extremist, he could no longer continue his engineering studies. Bernhard meets Johanna. She comes from a well-to-do family; her father is a real-estate developer and her brother is in the diplomatic service. Bernhard wants to share his roots with her, so the two go to Prague, where he lived until the end of the war. But her father disapproves of the trip to the Eastern bloc. When Bernhard finds out that he owes his chance to develop new technology, which led to his career advancement, to his girlfriend’s father, he is upset … The film is a story of the “sanfter Lauf” (gentle course) of social assimilation and cautiously critiques its coerciveness. Referencing the “new wave” in Czech cinema, both stylistically and with its pensive, critical attitude, the film shows clear sympathy for the people in Bernhard’s circle who refuse to pull their weight. At the same time, the swinging syncopation of the jazz soundtrack and a thematic “Jazz in the Movies” poster done by avant-garde graphic artist Hans Hillmann provide aesthetic counterpoints to economic stability.
by Haro Senft
with Bruno Ganz, Verena Buss, Wolfgang Büttner, Lia Eibenschütz
Germany (Federal Republic from 1949) /1967