Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Film Review: Marx & Coca Cola

While the rest of you are busy watching your mainstream movies that are listed on IMDB, here I am exploring the universe of film for you. For instance, last night I watched Marx & Coca-Cola, the only film I've ever seen not listed on IMDB. Here is a website that mentions it, but you have to search down to "M".

Marx and Coca-Cola is a German production done just after reunification. It uses a love story between West German developer Martin Barwald and East German former communist youth leader Anna Endrich to show the tensions of the reunification period. Martin gets stuck in a rain storm in the former East Germany where he has gone to scout out development projects. He takes shelter in the home of Anna's family. She is disgusted by what he is but the rest of the family is quite friendly and excited that he is from the West. Yet he is attracted to her. Misunderstandings, tensions, and eventually love ensue.

The love story doesn't really work. The graphics, particularly the titles at the beginning, are the just about the worst I have ever seen. The production has quite the BBC special shown on PBS on a Saturday night thing going on. The Scorpions are heavily featured in the soundtrack. Anna's political transformation is underdeveloped and not quite believable.

Despite all of this, Marx & Coca Cola is really an effective little film. It does a great job of showing the arrogance of the West toward the East, the hostility coming from the East, how the fall of communism devastated true believers, and how those tensions could abate over time. I have a real soft spot for flawed little films. It's not going to change your life, but if you want an effective (and almost totally unknown) film on Eastern Europe circa 1989, this is a great choice. It fits in well with the higher budget films on similar subjects that have come out since the fall of communism, including Goodbye Lenin and The Lives of Others. We are seeing a really nice filmography develop on the fall of communism; between the Wajda Solidarity era films in Poland, the Germans and Romanians, there is enough to fill a college course on the subject.

It may sound like I am giving this film a backhanded compliment, but I'm not. I liked it very much. If you can find it, check it out.