16th Mumbai Film Festival – Inbetween Worlds (Zwischen Welten)

I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, “Mother, what was war?” ~Eve Merriam

Some like to consider that Cinema is a tool to experience something as it is at the convenience of your own. Cinema takes us to places we wouldn’t visit otherwise, make us familiar with the people living over there and develops a bond with that culture. Zwischen Welten introduced me to a German Soldier named Jesper (Ronald Zehrfeld) and an Afghani interpreter Tarik (Mohsin Ahmady). And above all, the character that is more important than both of them – war.

Jesper voluntarily signs up to lead a mission in Afghanistan keeping aside the fact that he lost his brother in the same country. To overcome the language barrier, Jesper takes help of a young and inexperienced interpreter – Tarik. Jesper struggles to win the trust of the locals and also the Afghani militia. At the same time Tarik and his younger sister who is studying engineering receive constant threats for helping the troops.

Trailer here.

The film makes a fairly positive representation of the German soldiers contrary to that by the local and international public. The film celebrates the gradual alliance between Jesper and Tarik hinting the possibility of peaceful coexistence. The film approaches its climax as the protagonist has to make a moral decision.

Having watched quite a few films based on war in the recent days, I feel this film by actor turned director Feo Aladag is an excellent representation of the humanitarian perspective to the world.

(Spoilers ahead)


 

A few remarkable notes from the film:

As the poster suggests, that crossing has a very important significance in the film. This similar frame appears two times in the film. The first time just before Tarik visits Jesper before the commencement of his job as an interpreter and the second time just before Tarik gets shot for working for the “wrong side”.

Jesper and his troops find a cow stuck in barbed wire at night. Jesper commands to shoot that cow and put him out of his misery. The locals do not accept this incident as a sign of mercy towards the animal. They refuse to accept the interference of a foreign force. As a sign of fear of being ruled by someone else. They refuse to accept the foreign ideologies and morals.

Tarik’s sister wants to attend college. She wants to learn and be an engineer, shaping the future of Afghanistan. But her ambition is crushed under the economic and political instability of the country.


 

The performance by both, Ronald Zehrfeld and Mohsin Ahmady is beyond doubt one of the elements of the film that actually grips the audience. Their chemistry on screen deserves a special mention. The bond that connects these two characters is the theme of the film and for me it worked wonderfully.

We have seen War through a woman’s perspective before in the Academy Award winning film The Hurt Locker. And I feel it is important to note the way the focus of the film is not just on the explosions but their aftermath. The repercussions of war that spare nobody. It critiques the tendency of humans to force ideologies on the masses. It asks you a question whether power and control achieve anything good towards the end.

The film Inbetween Worlds is a strong, affecting drama. It is a depiction of the current situation in Afghanistan with a mild touch of tragedy. The film portrays a country which enjoyed a vibrant culture once but now is completely torn apart by war. It is sad to see a low rating on IMDb for this one. But if by any chance you get to see it, this one is an important one.

 

 

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