Barbara, heroine of the movie under the same name, is the central figure of this thriller German. Character camped by a Nina Hoss, hieratic, mysterious and imperturbable, he rubbed shoulders with a registry that is no stranger to the actress (in GOLD, she was a researcher of gold, relentless). Nina Hoss, a favorite actress of director Christian Petzold, is virtually present in every plan. For reasons of the scenario and the political context in which takes place the story, the camera follows Barbara as she traquerait a beast in his new life of exile in the province of Germany, between the hospital where she is a doctor and his apartment. Always on his guard, a little scared, even the doorbell of his apartment, showing the tension that is pervasive and a daily threat that may pose to the authorities.

We are in 1980. The dictatorship in the East, in the GDR, occurs and move to the West is an achievement. Barbara tries to prepare his escape helped by her lover who lives in the west. The film shows this divide, which imposes on the common people to act as outside the law even when it comes to feelings. Barbara and her lover, Jörg, are forced to end up in a unlikely place and impersonal to escape the regime, as illustrated in the scene in the forest. This place without a border, naturally open, but hidden symbolizes as a soil where the truce is temporarily possible, where also a wall stands up against the men.

Barbara lives constantly in the unsaid, the silence, the fear of being discovered in its activities. It feels suffocating and she said sometimes have the urge to take to the air. Its riding a bicycle or a scene from escape by sea are as escapes, puffs of air that are possible in this apnea permanent and usante woven by the non-said. The staging is impersonal, cold and minimalist, almost disturbing to Christian Petzold’s well aware of the austerity of the regime in which the beings are as dispossessed of their soul. Nothing gay seems to be able to happen. The hospital is austere to perfection and the apartment Barbara is like a blaukos where she hides in fear. The presence of a piano or the journal of a country doctor”, a book given by his colleague, are the only objects that are both poetic and personal of the scene…

“It floats like a permanent expectation in Barbara, some trouble making the position of these characters that weave in the shadows of their departure.”

The relationship between the characters of the film are fuzzy, ill-defined. The co-worker, Barbara, André, doctor like her, getting closer without ever that history does not toggle. Is it a spy ? The question remains open. Showing good feelings, they tend rather to believe in a budding love, but the camera spies on Barbara again and again. No climate of confidence does not seem feasible in the face of such defiance of the beings between them.

One feels despite all the assistance and fraternity of doctors to two patients. Links are formed in the pain and the loneliness are universal.

It floats like a permanent expectation in Barbara, some trouble making the position of these characters that weave in the shadows of their departure. It is not necessary to expect an action movie or verbiage incessant. The time seems long and the silences are many, the image of the regime in place.


The DVD features a bonus video with a presentation of the film (25 minutes) and “In the footsteps of Barbara,” an interview with Christian Petzold, the director, and Nina Hoss (24 min.).

Next to photography, the choice is up to the treatment plant : minimalist décor and choice of a place isolated in a provincial town in East Germany to create a hostile atmosphere and little warm felt good and realistic. The music, non-existent, leaves the beautiful part to the silences, to trade concise between the protagonists, to the noises of the everyday, no-frills, capturing this interiority contained heroin.

Original title : BARBARA

Realization : Christian Petzold

Screenplay : Christian Petzold

Main actors : Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Rainer Bock, Christina Hecke, Claudia Geisler, Rosa Enskat, Jasna Fritzi Bauer, Mark Waschke

Country of origin : Germany

Released : October 16, 2012 (dvd)

Duration : 1h45mn

Distributor : Arcadès

Synopsis : Summer, 1980. Barbara was a surgeon-pediatrician in a hospital in East Berlin. Suspected of wanting to move to the West, she was transferred by the authorities in a clinical province, in the middle of nowhere. While her lover Jörg, who lives in the West, prepares his escape, Barbara is troubled by the attention that Andre, the head doctor of the hospital. The professional confidence that it gives him, his attentions, his smile… Is he in love with her ? Is it responsible for the spy ?

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