Ilse is the woman who never fit in. This is the exact opposite of her hardworking sister Katharina, who brought up her brother, as well as her son and grandson, and who always put her own life and needs to one side and gave up everything for the family. Didn't Katharina deserve finally, in December 1990, to get her reward. Despite the lie, which she has been living, and which she only now admits to her family? Finally, on the occasion of her 70th birthday she comes together with her childhood sweetheart Alf, who only ever wanted her sister Ilse. In a similar way Germany is now also reunited. Forty years ago she fled from her native Dresden to Hamburg. Now she wants to return. Katharine feels no sense of injustice, as she calls for the return of "her" house on the river Elbe. Was it ever really hers? After all she bought it for a "song" from a Jewish family in Nazi-ruled Germany.
Are the grandchildren managing any better? What happens when the grandchildren of Alf and Katharina meet, having grown up two very different Germanys? Sofia, the student from Cologne, speaks very differently to Stefan, the music student from Dresden, or Johanna, the young Photographer from East Berlin. Rudolf, Katharina's brother, was forced to give up his job as teacher, in order to look after Sofia's father, who, after the car accident, which killed Sofia's mother, is confined to a wheelchair. A family history in reunified Germany? "The dreams, which once swelled the proud breast, have faded away."
Alf, who made his career as a doctor in the GDR, and was once full of idealism and beliefs of fair socialism, sees now, at the end of his life, everything has fallen apart. Like Katharina he has always lived carefully. Now he is forced to ask himself questions, which he is not able to answer.
02: This film is an artistic feat....through its unusual point of view and the impressive interpretation of "the Song of the Germans".
Stefan Seifert, Jenaer Landzeitung, 28.04.1993
03: Many viewers find Ula Stöckl's films difficult and inaccessible. For me they have an individual and unique attraction. Their stories play out on various different levels simultaneously. They compliment each other and give the viewer room to make associations on various different levels. Despite the amount of material and information in the film and its poetic richness, it is also calm and often full of warm-hearted humor.
Iris Gusner, Film und Fernsehen, 3/1992
04: Yet it doesn't just stick to looking at the past. Out of the confrontation Stöckl develops a meticulous view of the future together.
nup, Konstanzer Zeitung, 17.10.1992
05: Stöckl sends the German-German extended family softly, but without mercy, down a dead-end. Far away, on the dark banks of the Elbe, Karl stands up suddenly from the wheelchair and walks away on his own, unnoticed by his "fathers" Rudolf and Alf. An illusion? Or perhaps he is the only one who has understood everything and doesn't want any more to play a part in this "meat feast".
Karen Niehoff, Tagesspiegel Berlin, 26.02.1992
06: Director Ula Stöckl creates in this film a fragile mix of memory and daily reality ... the slow camera shots through Dresden lend the film calmness and peacefulness. In this way the film seems like a documentary, or a reportage, whose strands of plot are taken up at various intervals. This makes the film, on the one hand, heavy and intense, on the other rather cerebral.
A.S. Main-Post, 03.07.1992
07: To understand means to forgive? Not necessarily according to Ula Stöckl. Yet at the same time she doesn't measure the characters and their actions by her own standards of justice. It is this, which differentiates her, favorably, from other more dogmatic works.
Ulrich von Thüna, epd Film 10/1992
08: Stöckl's images, which are sometimes highly refined but never overly "designed", hit the brain dead-on. Without any effort on behalf of the viewer, the film remains a series of fragmented pictures and the carefully balanced characters are rendered dumb.
Thomas Vogel, Schwäbische Zeitung, 14.10.1992
09: We have never seen the like in a film before: Even if you have already been there, when have you ever seen Dresden in this way? The rich mood of the film shows the Dresden of today, and yet also, thanks to how the camera depicts the city, the Dresden of the past, and how it has been for the past hundred years. And if the mood ever threatens to dip, with the various interpretations of the song of Germany, it is never quite lost. The atmosphere and the imagination of the people here are both unforgettably portrayed.
o.s., Volksblatt Würzburg, 03.07.1992
10: This "Old Song" is not simply a story of East hitting against West (and vice versa) but rather, for Ula Stöckl, a new interpretation of the German song "justice and freedom, and then unity."
Heinz Voigt, Thüringische Landeszeitung (TLZ), 08.05.1993