Unter all the fairy tales, which are seldom cheerful and hardly the stuff of children’s dreams and wishes, there is one that is particularly sad and dark. The grandmother in Georg Büchner’s “Woyzeck” tells it: of the child who no longer had a father or mother, “everything was dead and there was no one left in the world. Everything was dead and it went looking day and night. And because there was no one left on earth, they wanted to go to heaven. . . “
It is no coincidence that at the very beginning and at the end of the film “Dear Thomas”, which is about the writer and filmmaker Thomas Brasch, one immediately thinks of this fairy tale. There is a little boy, ten years old, lying in bed between his parents, then his parents are gone, and he gets up, gets into a car in his pajamas and drives off, the world is empty, nowhere to be seen a person.
He comes to an airfield, he gets on the plane, it takes off, uncertain where, because at that moment the camera pans and looks at two boys in their beds, to whom their mother reads a fairy tale.
The world in his head
At the very end it will be a man in his fifties walking this path through an empty world. At some point in the middle of the film, Brasch’s brother Klaus, the actor, once spoke of the fact that his Woyzeck had convinced people – and that’s probably why this fairy tale doesn’t get out of your mind.
It also fits in too well with the film that Andreas Kleinert made based on a script by Thomas Wendrich. What makes this film so special is the confidence with which it uses its visual motifs and varies them over and over again. What interests him about the writer’s life is not only his real, documentary-narrative stations, but also the world in his head, where the fictions arise.
“Dear Thomas” is a film that you don’t see often in German cinemas. 150 minutes that will never be long, in a beautiful, high-contrast black and white that seems compelling after just five minutes; two and a half hours with a writer who died in 2001 at the age of 56, who was never completely forgotten, but whom many have forgotten, despite documentaries on the tenth anniversary of his death, despite the novel by his sister Marion Brasch, despite the key novel by his friend Klaus Pohl, the playwright, or the documentary by Annekatrin Hendel from 2018.
Shaken by post-war history
The film tells the story of an author whose biography swept through the post-war history of the two German states. The one great literary hope was as a poet, as a playwright, as a director; who received the Bavarian Film Prize for the best first director for “Engel aus Eisen” and, after receiving it from Franz Josef Strauss, thanked him in his speech for the training at the GDR film academy – from which he had been expelled.
And who spoke of the artist’s contradiction, “who works with the money of the state and attacks the state, who makes the subversive outsider the object of his work and at the same time an accomplice in power”. One who fell silent after 1989, only translated Chekhov and Shakespeare; whose book title “The sons die before the fathers” has become a popular phrase.
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