REUNION (1989) [Feature]

West Germany/France/UK (MIFF 1990 )
Director: Jerry Schatzberg

REUNION could be seen by many as a
familiar subject, but it contains new
insights into the genesis of a tragedy for
Germany and the world.

Harold Pinter has fashioned an intelligent
and well-constructed screenplay based on Fred Uhlman's autobiographical novel. The core of the drama is set in Stuttgart in 1933 and deals with the growing friendship between two schoolboys from different backgrounds: Hans (Christian Anholt), son of a Jewish doctor and World War One vet who, till now was considered a pillar of the community; and the aristocratic Konrad (Samuel West), who's led a sheltered life, taught by private tutors.

At the beginning of the year, portents of
what's to come are few. Gradually as the year
progresses, the Fascist movement takes hold. On a cycling trip to the Black Forest, the friends get in a fist fight with Nazi thugs, and Konrad is embarrassed when he takes Hans to meet his pretty cousin, Gertrud, who makes anti-Semetic remarks.

After the summer vacation, and the election that brought Hitler to power, the tide clearly has turned. A sympathetic teacher has been replaced by a diehard Nazi, and boys are expected to salute the Nazi Hag. Konrad reveals he's Come to believe that Hitler sincerely wants to help Germany through "this stage of flux".

This long central part of the film is framed by a present day narrative in which Hans, now
Henry Strauss (Jason Robards), decides to return to Stuttgart to locate his parents' grave and to discover what happened to his old friend. Henry has lived in America since his parents sent him there in 1933. Needless to say he finds Stuttgart radically changed but there still are traces of anti- Semitism. The final revelation as t0 the fate of his old friend comes as a genuine surprise.

Director ferry Schatzberg has made what
probably is his best film to date, a sober,
thoughtful pic that recreates a seemingly
authentic world of 56 years ago. He's aided
immeasurably by the magnificent camera work
of Bruno de Keyzer, who uses desaturated color for the 1930s sequences, giving an authentically drab look to the drama. The impeccable production design is by veteran Alexandre Trauner, who's done an amazing job throughout.
- David Statton, Variety

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