An adaptation of Anna Seghers’ novel of the same name, Transit is a stunning piece of filmmaking, which not only humanises the Germans during the era of Nazi invasion but adds humour and love to a period of time renowned for suffering. With cinematography and performances that are top notch, this feature film directed by Christian Petzold, and starring Franz Rogowski and Paula Beer is a masterful work to watch and a wonderful piece of programming from the Glasgow Film Festival.
When Georg flees France after the Nazi invasion, he assumes the identity of a dead author, Weidel, whose papers he possesses, after discovering that he had taken his own life, possibly for fear of persecution. Stuck in Marseilles, he meets a young woman desperate to find her missing husband, the very man he’s impersonating.
Christian Petzold’s adaptation of the Anna Seghers novel, handles the subject emotively and sensitively, adding both a historical and contemporary approach. Although this may be set in Marseilles during the time of Nazi occupation, by eschewing period detail, Petzold underlines the timeless nature of the story about the plight of refugees, and the determination required to survive this difficult time. With the papers of writer Weidel, Georg causes much confusion particularly for Weidel’s wife, Marie, who is deceptively led to believe that her husband is still alive and to be found around Marseilles, which affects her relationship with the doctor, Richard.
As Georg plans his passage, as well as Marie’s to Mexico, he encounters other refugees and a woman desperately hoping for news of her husband, outlining his humanity, desire for warmth and company throughout this story.
The performances are subtle and sensitive, engaging and thought-provoking, adding a real richness to a human story. The cinematography by Hans Fromm is beautiful and there is much to be got from this piece of filmmaking, which depicts a time that is not stand alone, we certainly get a sense of the story of survival that is felt by refugees in our present day. Transit is indeed the story of transit with the warm addition of humanity and love, rendering it a beautiful film in an eclectic programme that is this year’s Glasgow Film Festival.
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