This German film Berlin 36 screened at the Reeve Union Theater on March 29 as an event of the German history week. Berlin 36 is based upon true story of Berlin Olympic in 1936 and the life of Gretel Bergmann (Karoline Herfurth), a German-Jewish high jumper.
With Hitler in power and the 1936 Summer Olympics scheduled for Berlin, the fascists had struck a major public relations coup. But there was a problem. The games' legitimacy would be questioned if the major nations of the world boycotted the affair because of the Nazis' anti-Semitic policies.
To sidestep such a dilemma and, especially, because of pressure from the United States, the Nazis needed Greta, who at the time was competing successfully in England. The young woman was thus forced to return to Germany by threats of arrest and worse against her family.
Now Hitler had his Jew, but how could he guarantee she didn't win a medal? Why not have a young man who was raised as a girl be her competition? Step in Marie Ketteler (Sebastian Urzendowsky). Marie, forced to wear frocks all her life by an insane mother, even while doing farm chores, agreed to the Nazis' ruse if they would make his/her dream come true, which had something to do with being a commander of a huge ship.
With all the parts of its stratagem then in place, the overly confident Master Race overlooked one possibility: Gretel and Marie became extremely close friends. So who would win and whom would you have rooted for? If Gretel went gold, she'd score points for her people, proving to the Nazis that Jews were not inferior. If Marie won the day, a brutalized young man would be able to start wearing pants and get his sea legs.
While this movie is quite tepid and cliched, at the end of the movie, by showing Gretel Bergmann is still alive, it made me feel this story is real. I didn't have much ideas about Jewish history except holocaust. Through the movies such as Schindler's list(1993) and Life is beautiful (1997), I just guess how they spent horrible and tragic time in the past.
With this movie, I saw how people made discrimination, superiority and how they justified their unreasonable thought and behaviors.
(Resources from : Brandon Judell ; http://www.nytheatre-wire.com/, Youtube; http://youtu.be/s1BRxiCAAi0)