THE BOAT IS FULL

 (Das Boot ist voll)

Directed by Markus Imhoof. Switzerland/Austria/West Germany. 1981.


Talking Pictures alias talkingpix.co.uk
 
 


 
 

Home

Reviews

Features

Book 
Reviews

News

About Us

Email

 

In 1996 a panel was created called the Independent Commission of Experts headed by historian Jean Francois Bergier to study Switzerland's wartime past. The report of the Bergier Commission, though acknowledging the many refugees Switzerland accepted during 1940-45, condemned its wartime practices of deporting Jewish refugees (around 30,000) back to Germany, accusing Swiss officials of pursuing an inhumane policy at odds with the country's tradition of offering asylum to those facing persecution. A Swiss/Austrian/West German co-production, Markus Imhoof's striking drama The Boat is Full dramatizes this issue, challenging myths about Swiss wartime virtue and innocence.  

Nominated for an Oscar in 1982 for Best Foreign Film, The Boat is Full is not widely known in the U.S. but it is one of the finest films dealing with the holocaust. In the film, a group of German Jewish refugees must pretend they are a family in order to be granted asylum in Switzerland (refugee families with children under 6 are allowed to remain in Switzerland) but are faced with the rigidity of small-minded bureaucrats who see it as their duty to uphold the letter of the law. As the film opens, a German train is halted because of a Swiss attempt to wall off the tunnel to close potential escape routes. Six people, four Jews, a French child, and a deserting German soldier jump off the train and seek refuge at a rural inn, run by a married couple Laurent and Franz Fluckiger (Renate Steiger and Mathias Gnadinger). It is only afterwards that they discover that the country maintains strict quotas and that they are in danger of being deported.  

To survive, they pose as a family. Judith Kruger (Tina Engel), a young woman, pretends that she is the wife of Karl Schneider (Gerd David), a Nazi deserter, an elderly man from Vienna, Lazar Ostrowskij (Curt Bois) pretends to be her father, and a young boy (Simone Maruice), who can only speak French, pretends that he is a deaf mute. The scheme is threatened, however, when a hard-nosed constable comes to investigate and Judith's real husband escapes from a work camp and tries to find her. Though we do not know the protagonists on other than a surface level, The Boat is Full is still a powerful film that reminds us that rigidly supporting the letter of the law does not always mean adhering to its spirit, or understanding the personal consequences that may result. 

GRADE: B+ 

Howard Schumann
 
 
Search this site or the web        powered by FreeFind
Site searchWeb search

 
   Home | News | Features
    Book Reviews | About Us