February 11, 2020  (Web Review)

The Silent Revolution

Distrib, 111 min., in German w/English subtitles, not rated, DVD: $26.99

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

In The People vs. Fritz Bauer (VL-3/17), writer-director Lars Kraume followed a West German prosecutor’s post-war effort to capture Adolf Eichmann. In The Silent Revolution he turns to East Germany during the same period, dramatizing an incident in which a group of students in a small-town high school voted to stage a protest against the suppression of the 1956 Hungarian rebellion against Soviet control by simply remaining silent in history class for two minutes. The act was deemed counter-revolutionary by their teachers, and brought down the wrath of the state, with the rigorous chairwoman of the local school board and even the national minister of education intervening to pressure the students to reveal the ringleader of the protest—or suffer the consequences of expulsion. Here, this episode causes the youngsters to debate the justice of the system under which they live, both with their parents and among themselves. Like other German films about the post-war period, The Silent Revolution provides a fascinating view of a divided society struggling with issues of principle and morality, although it does grow increasingly melodramatic in its latter stages, adding one subplot about a romantic triangle among three of the students and another concerning long-kept family secrets involving what their parents did during the war and in its aftermath. Nevertheless, the story is an inherently interesting one. Recommended. (F. Swietek)