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Rotation [Import]

Paul Esser , Irene Korb , Wolfgang Staudte    NR (Not Rated)   DVD

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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lives of working-class Berliners from 1925 to 1945 Jan. 23 2007
By Michael Wehle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Director Wolfgang Staudte cowrote this fine film with his father Fritz Staudte together with Erwin Klein. Both Staudtes took part in Reinhardt and Piscator productions, and in Hans and Lotte's wedding entertainment American audiences may hear Brecht and Weill.

This powerful work was released three years after Staudte's "The Murderers Are Among Us". In contrast with that film's depiction of an educated paragon tortured by conscience, Rotation traces the lives of Berliner everyman Hans, his beloved Lotte, and Lotte's politically-engaged brother Karl from the depression and runaway inflation of the 1920s through the return of economic normalcy, the Nazi ascension to power, war, impending defeat, the battle for Berlin, and finally war's aftermath and reconstruction. Rotation opens during the fall of Berlin. Sheltering from the battle outside a woman hears the Soviets have reached the Moabit district and she immediately leaves safety to dodge the bombs and shells outside. Why? Our interest of course is immediately piqued. The film then flashes back to 1925, the year of Hitler's reorganization of the NSDAP. Hans strives heroically to provide for Lotte and their dear son Helmut. Hans is a good neighbor to the Jewish family downstairs. Karl the communist thinker and activist fights both capitalists and Nazis. Hans, Karl, and Lotte care deeply for one another and for toddler Helmut. Hans resents the class oppression which feeds children of the aristocracy cake while Helmut is sick and malnourished. Hans is jailed for labor organizing. While not endorsing the NSDAP he accommodates the party in order to secure work he desperately needs to put food on the table. Here Staudte and DEFA show industrialists solidly behind the NSDAP while Karl and Hans have only the backing of fellow workers. For years Hans refuses Karl's entreaties to join the struggle, citing his family responsibilities. Finally out of devotion to his brother-in-law as well as to humanity Hans commits acts of resistance and is betrayed by Helmut, who is now a committed member of the Hitler-Jugend. It is the ramifications of this act for Hans, Lotte, and Helmut in the context of their love for one another which begins and ends the film.

Rotation celebrates the strength and continuity of human life and love: love erotic, filial and fraternal.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hope and reconciliation amidst evil. July 15 2008
By Saty Satya-Murti - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I am not a student of films and I have no expertise in filmography but I do enjoy watching foreign films. This is a black and white WWII movie about the effects of the Third Reich on a single close-knit family. The protagonist's (Hans Behnke) son joins Hitler Youth and tattles on his conscientious father's efforts to provide for and protect his family. Behnke is a not a party man, he works assiduously, upholds neutral principles and family loyalty. His apathy towards overt Nazi party affiliation and the use of his printer's skills to publish anti-Nazi literature to help his doting brother-in-law (Kurt) land him in trouble. The War ends, there is reconciliation between him and his son. His son's transformation and realization that evil is preventable are the kernels of this movie. Filmed in late 1940s, in German with English subtitles, its technical limitations compared to current technology actually enhance the effects of fear, paranoia and desperation. Behnke's steadfast non-affiliation is admirably brought out.

That this story focuses on a single family is its strong suit. There is due time given for Behnke's character development. He joins the party, albeit reluctantly, just to keep his job and provide for his tolerant wife, Lotte, and his much-loved son, Helmut. Unemployment, crushing hunger, Helmut's malnutrition, shock of filial betrayal and the pervasive spying by Nazi secret service all test Behnke's convictions. At times he compromises, and at others he suffers immensely for not relenting. This raises the dreaded perennial question, "What would you have done under these circumstances?"

The film closes with a coda showing Helmut falling in love at the same location as his father did 20 years earlier. Helmut, now repentant and transformed, seems to hold out hope for a future that does not repeat its destructive past. He promises as much to his new love. We know differently now; we humans have since broken our internal promises and reengaged in many newer destructive acts. Sorry Helmut!

For us, now in early 21st century, this is a painful realization because we are incapable of not repeating ourselves - BUT our hopes to the contrary sustain us.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic! June 30 2008
By Lcm - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Rotation is one in a string of German films that sought to investigate how a seemingly civilized country could be drawn into the madness of Hitler-Fascism. The film spans over 20 years, and shows how Printer Behnke slowly becomes a member of the Nazi -party, refuses to act when his Jewish neighbors are arrested by the SS, and then when he is finally betrayed by his son, a member of the Hitler Youth. It is certainly a classic, among the other films of the DDR-based DEFA studios!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent Feb. 19 2010
By Tracy Cramer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I was afraid a dramatization of such an eventful period in German and 20th century history would lend itself to sweeping generalizations for the sake of the narrative. But I was really impressed by how the makers of this film were able to believably ground the events of 1930s and 1940s Germany in the lives of one German family. Superb acting and cinematography. I highly recommend it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Stunningly Simple Family Story, But Very Potent In Its Straightforward Approach Oct. 20 2011
By K. Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
1949's "Rotation" might be one of the most powerful films to rely on straightforward and non-showy narrative technique. It achieves much through its simplicity, oftentimes just advancing through the years and allowing the viewer to make necessary interpretations for themselves. The film covers twenty years in the life of one family from before the war to its aftermath. In just showing bits and pieces as the world evolves around the family, the 80 minute movie seems very fresh and different and covers a surprising amount of territory. Although sad and painful, I admired the level tone which lets actions speak louder than words.

Lacking moralizing and overt politicizing, the film simply is what it is. And because it doesn't preach and posture, its emotional impact is all the greater. In many ways, its sheer simplicity makes it one of the most affecting and memorable movies about the war that I've seen. KGHarris, 10/11.

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