The story of the Holocaust has been told from many many perspectives. Told from any angle, however, the human tragedy never changes. The 2002 Academy Award winning film for foreign language was Nowhere in Africa, a critically acclaimed classic. This film is the real story of a young Jewish family that fled Germany for Africa in 1938, just before Hitler and the Reich made it impossible for Jewish emigres to leave.
The narrative is one of love and family but it is deeply rooted in class, prejudice and the experience of a little girl growing up away from home who easily and quickly learns to love a remote farm in Kenya and her new African friends and culture. In contrast her parents struggle for nearly nine years to make sense of their lives and this new home. Their marriage is strained by loneliness, deep doubt, bitterness and even by at least one instance of adultery. But their love, stretched and almost destroyed, keeps drawing them back to forgiveness and the very real desire to somehow make this all work in the end. Letters from home bring news of the death of their relatives, one by one, while radio news reveals the larger picture of Germany’s rise and fall. The strange world of Kenya, to these high-class Germans, eventually becomes a world they all embrace in one way or another, finding peace with their environment and their neighbors, but most of all with themselves. When the war ends new challenges face them as they are invited to go back to a place that they are now not so sure they ever want to see again.
This is a stunning achievement in film. It is not only the story of a homeland lost, thus richly rooted in place and family ties, but of a new home found and with it new friends. It is also the story of the indominatability of the human spirit in the face of stark difficulties and personal betrayal. It is in German, with English subtitles. Rated R for appropriate and frankly beautiful marital sexual scenes between the two lead characters, I highly recommend Nowhere in Africa to adults. You who will see the Holocasut in an entirely new way and grasp something of the difficulty all refugees face. You might even see again how fragile marriage can become under dark stressful events.