“The Reader,” by Bernhard Schlink

Novel, 1995 A straightforward, first-person narrative of a young man who has an affair with an older woman with something of a history she’s not keen to share. Ultimately, this is a book about reactions to the Holocaust and feelings of desire, guilt and attempts to come to terms with and rationalise what happened and how people can deal with the aftermath and after effects. … Continue reading “The Reader,” by Bernhard Schlink

“The Wave”, directed by Dennis Gansel

Movie, 2008 A largely powerful, provocative film looking at an experiment in a political science class that mushrooms and takes on a life of its own. While this is a bold idea – particularly as a German film reflecting on dictatorship – and while the film is based, in part, on an experiment which took place in a Californian school, the film loses a little … Continue reading “The Wave”, directed by Dennis Gansel

“Stoszek”, directed by Werner Herzog

Movie, 1977 Tale of a struggling German street musician, fresh out of prison, and who’s chased out of his home country by a couple of thugs and takes up with a couple of friends in the USA. A story with a touch of Candide about it, in which the well-meaning, essentially good, and entrepreneurial hero is let down by a world he’s ill-equipped to deal … Continue reading “Stoszek”, directed by Werner Herzog

“The Baader Meinhof Complex”, directed by Uli Edel

Movie, 2008 A good looking, gritty film charting the rise and fall of the Baader Meinhof gang’s main protagonists. The core of the film is engaging, with great detail and performances, though round the edges, there’s a hint of confusion. The film’s focus wavers a little between character studies and interplay, socio-political history and the narrative stretches, particularly when it comes to the rush through … Continue reading “The Baader Meinhof Complex”, directed by Uli Edel

"Look Who’s Back," by Timur Vermes

Novel, 2012 A book about Hitler’s exploits after the Fuhrer wakes up on a patch of ground in Berlin in 2011. This is a confusing and frustrating book, translation or both; the early scenes and situations flicking too awkwardly between those where Hitler realises nearly 70 years have passed since his incarceration in his bunker to those where he forgets. The satire picks up as … Continue reading "Look Who’s Back," by Timur Vermes

"The Reader", directed by Stephen Daldry

Movie, 2008 Rather fraught, gloomy and affecting film, humanising an SS concentration camp guard and telling of her downfall through the eyes of a lover she briefly takes after the war. While there’s not much in the way of subtlety or surprise here, an atmosphere of decay and the struggle to rebuild is beautifully evoked through settings and acting. Ultimately, this is a tough film … Continue reading "The Reader", directed by Stephen Daldry