Saturday, March 22, 2014

Film Reels: Mädchen In Uniform

Film Reels - In which I catch up on my classic movies and then talk about them.

Mädchen In Uniform -(remake 1958)

There are two well known versions of this movie from Germany, but only one available on Netflix right now. I'd love to see the original sometime.The original was set after WWI in a Prussian boarding school for girls. So is the remake, but because it was made in 1958, some of the styles don't quite match the era.

The movie was very emotional and lovely. Historically, it is touted as being the first pro-lesbian movie and is important for having an all girl's cast. Personally, I was more affected by the main character, Manuela's, reaction and inability to adjust to the harsh Prussian school environment. She was known for being a sensitive and shy girl and the traumas of being in such a harsh place worked against her ability to mourn and deal with her grief over the death of her mother. This led her to become obsessed with the affections of the only kind teacher, and slightly forbidden attraction the two shared.

Setting the sexual attraction aside, it is very common for shy mild mannered people to become enamored with a specific teacher that shows them kindness. Especially in high-school, which can be a very rough place for shy people. I've seen it with myself and with others. I remember how devastated when my favorite teacher, the one I looked up to and felt was a positive role model, got cancer and died. I noticed a huge drop in my grades after that time. I also had a few friends who had their own personal favorite teacher that they felt they were almost friends with in high-school. It might be like finding a protector and confidant in a hellish scary place when you are not fitting in. For me it was a boost of confidence that someone thought my work was good and noticed my intelligence.

What I took from the movie, essentially, is that acceptance and love is more important than strict rules and guidelines in developing good adults. Rules have their place, but you need  love and compassion too. I recommend watching this movie, or the original 1931 version if you can find it.