Helma Sanders-Brahms – Deutschland bleiche Mutter aka Germany, Pale Mother (1980)


In her film Germany, Pale Mother Sanders-Brahms depicts her childhood in Germany during and after WWII. In order to survive, mother (Lene) and child (Anna) form a self-sufficient bond which excludes the father when he returns from war. The film portrays a child’s resilience in the face of such war trauma as death, and, especially for girls, fear of assault. Anna emulates Lene’s ability to transcend suffering through her will to survive and through narrative, the focus of this paper. Lene’s reciting of the Grimms’ “The Robber Bridegroom” fairy tale, in which the heroine flees and defeats her potential assailant by telling her story, enables them to overcome their suffering as war victims and inspires Anna, the filmmaker, to narrate their story, to become the subject not the object of her life story, and to transcend the past. Postwar scenes depict the difficulty of returning to traditional family roles because of the father’s wartime absence and the resulting abuse from a disillusioned, frustrated husband/father, the postwar “enemy”. There is a role reversal in which Anna becomes the mother’s caretaker which reaches its climax in the final scene Continue reading