Sunday, 9 November 2014

Ich bin ein Berliner (4 Stars)

All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words "Ich bin ein Berliner".

It never ceases to amaze me how much tastes can differ. Last night I was watching this film with my ex-wife. I was engrossed, hanging on every line of dialogue, relishing the ironies, even though I had seen the film more than once before. But she told me she found it boring and left the room before it was over. Amazing. How could such a beautiful film be considered boring? I admit, there is no action. No gun fights. No car chases. No space ships firing death rays into populated areas. But is that really necessary to make a film interesting?

The film takes place in 2004. It begins with the funeral of Iris Rath, the mother of Felix Rath, a petty con man living in Berlin. She was a poor woman, and all she has left him is the key to a bank safe deposit box. The box contains love letters, dated 1963, sent by President Kennedy to Agnes Rath, his mother's sister who he has never met since she died when he was young. Seeing a chance to make money, Felix, who was born in March 1964, fakes a birth certificate claiming he was the illegitimate son of  Agnes Rath, fathered by John F. Kennedy. He goes to a newspaper to sell his story, which they thoroughly investigate and conclude that it is true. The perfect con. But in their investigations, to Felix's shock, they find Agnes Rath, still alive and living under a false name. She confirms that Felix is her child, the son of President Kennedy. So the con is really true.

The story could have ended there, except Agnes made a deal with the CIA 40 years earlier, to keep her relationship with the American president secret. That's the reason she changed her name. Felix and a news reporter are threatened by mysterious men in dark suits and sunglasses. The only solution for Felix is to publicly claim that he invented the story. The problem is that the story is true, and there is too much evidence to make it look false.

Does this story sound boring? It isn't. But maybe if it's ever remade they could add a UFO hovering over the Brandenburg Gate. And an army of zombies crawling out of the sewers.....

Click here for the full transcript of President Kennedy's speech in Berlin on June 26th 1963.

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