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Review: What To Do In Case Of Fire

Or 'Was tun, wenn's brennt?' in German. You may have noticed my fascination with films where a group of interesting people with similar political views (i.e. anti-capitalism/establishment) club together to try and make the world a better place, usually in rather unorthodox ways. Together and Edukators are the best examples, but the spirit is reflected in such films as Good Bye Lenin, L'auberge Espagnole and A Home At The End Of The World. I love these films because they leave me wanting to do something important, make a difference, and they give me hope that it is possible. Perhaps they romanticise the notion of 'the revolution starts at home' - in reality the closest I can find to this revolutionary spirit is university politics, which is of course a minefield of arrogant twats ignoring anyone's opinion but their own and using long words to intimidate any well-meaning ordinary student who makes the mistake of getting involved. There is none of the togetherness of Together, only the bad times in the middle where they all argue.

However, this isn't a blog about the rubbishness of other people, it is about the brilliance of films like this one. Unlike The Edukators there isn't so much time spent on the politics - What To Do... is more about the people involved and the effect their time as rebellious, communal-living Berlin anarchists in the 1980s has had on their lives. For some characters it is all in the past, while for others there will never be anything more important than staying true to their cause, so when a bomb the group planted 11 years before goes off, their responses differ greatly. Some want to turn themselves in or just hope the bomb won't be traced back to them, while others take this as ammunition for one last attempt to get revenge on the authorities who had caused the dispersion of their group in the first place, when one member had been run over during a protest. The latter group soon persuade the former and a plot to retrieve the evidence which incriminates them is put into action, with many heart-warming and hilarious moments along the way.

The plot-line maybe isn't the best thought out ever (we are after all meant to side with a group who like to blow things up) but the politics and moral questions are, for me at least, not the point of this film. To me it shows the importance of standing up for what you believe in, even if it's hard in the 'real world' to get together a group of people who are really willing to do so, and realistically there is just too much to lose by going against authority these days, when authority rules everything. However, they don't always make a good job of it and if this truly is a democracy, they can't rule us without our support, so it is never impossible to make a difference, and that is one thing that we must not let go. If more people saw films like this (if they could first get over their fear of subtitles), perhaps the romanticised notion would be realistic.