It’s 6:28 pm
During my last post,I commented how I stumbled across a large collection of foreign films at my library. One of the titles was a Film Movement Presents title called “Storm”.
We’ll be reviewing “Storm” next so stay tuned for that. Film Movement is a subscription company where they combine a festival winning film with a great film.
The films seem to be on a IFC level but the added bonus short films is a welcome plus.
Such as the Oscar winning short film from Germany,”Toyland”.
“Toyland” is set in 1942 Germany. The film opens up by showing a pair of hands playing a piano. The camera pans backs to reveal a child’s train set.
Marianne and her 6 year old son Heinrich live in a apartment building. Marianne goes to wake Heinrich up but the little boy is gone. Frantic,Marianne grabs her jacket and runs downstairs,she sees her neighbors,The Silberstein’s front door ajar,when Marianne peeks inside,you can see a struggle has happened with broken furniture and dishes strewn all over. The opening title comes on and then we are taken back in time.
The Silberstein’s are music teachers and their older son son is practicing with Heinrich.
Marianne and Mrs. Silberstein enter the Silberstein’s apartment…the piano playing is beautiful.
The Silbersteins know that the Gestapo are coming for any Jews in the area and Mrs. Silberstein says she had heard the raid will be the next day.
A German couple stomps on the floor above yelling “stop making noise you damn Jews.”
Back to present day and Marianne enters the street when she spots a neighbor who found Heinrich’s teddy bear. Marianne asks the neighbor if he has seen her son.
The man only says that the Silbersteins have left this morning and that is all he knows. The man’s wife says that family leaving is better for Heinrich anyways as Marianne starts running down the street….
Fade backwards again…..Marianne is feeding dinner to Heinrich as he asks his mom why are the Silbersteins so sad. Marianne says because they are going on a journey soon and when Marianne says “Toyland”,Heinrich wants to go Toyland and when Marianne says “It isn’t possible”,Heinrich gets upset and says his dad would let him go…
Present day….Marianne asks a policeman for help,he looks at her sharply and asks if she is Jewish. Marianne says no and the policeman says they only took Jews to the train station,with a sinking heart,Marianne knows that Heinrich has gone with the Silbersteins in hopes of going to “Toyland”. She begins to run to the train station,a horrified look on her face…….
I can see why this won an Oscar in 2009 for “Best Live Action Short Film”. It’s extremely powerful,expertly directed and is moving as hell. The complete fear of Nazi Germany is fully captured,neighbors suspecting each other,Jews knowing full well that not only is time short but there is nowhere to run,especially within Germany itself.
Marianne has little or no idea how to explain to her little boy why his friend David and his family have to “take a journey”. Her desperate story to explain leads to an unexpected and shocking end.
At 14 minutes and with a moving timeline,director and co-writer Jochen Alexander Freydank blends his story seamless with no wasted space. By keeping his scenes so crisp,it propels you along in Marianne’s footsteps. You ARE Marianne,not just a bystander. The German cast is very strong with Julia Jager and Cedric Eich standing out as Marianne and Heinrich.
The score is subtle,rich and a bit unsettling and is well done by Ingo Frenzel.
“Toyland” was only Freydank’s fourth film,all three earlier efforts had been short films as well. He is still directing movies in Germany today but you sort of wish he was in America making such a important film like “Toyland”.
Especially in the light of what happened in Charlottesville,Virginia,this would be a highly recommended film for all Americans to see and be reminded of what happened in Germany can happen here if we let it.
The cheetah and I give “Toyland” two thumbs and four paws up.
If you have seen this film,drop us a comment and let us know what you thought of it.
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