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The Final Journey
3rd German Film Week

The Final Journey
© Global Screen
The Final Journey | Leanders letzte Reise

"A striking narrative about the Cossack tragic history, love, and forgiveness sending its leading characters on an emotional and dangerous quest." – Lia Fietz, indienyc.com

92 -year-old Eduard Leander, a former German officer, has never talked of his wartime experiences, despite the dark shadows they cast over his family. His granddaughter Adele can’t stand the old man. When Eduard’s wife dies her mother tries to move him to a home. But he sets off, instead, to find Svetlana, the woman he fell in love with during the war when he fought with the Cossacks against the Red Army, not knowing if she survived. Sent to remove him from the train to Kiev, Adele finds herself joining him, unwillingly, in his quest. On the way they meet Lev, a Ukrainian of Russian origin, he and his family similarly trapped in the past. Adele falls in love with him, but it is 2014 and conflict between Russia and Ukraine is looming.

Source: German Films Service & Marketing GmbH

film review

The bloody war of the past and the bloody war of the present, connected in many ways through their violent histories and the victims of their aftermath, meet in The Final Journey. After the death of wife, 92-year-old Eduard decides to visit Kiev and finally bring to a close what seems to be the most important chapter of his life. He intends to search for Svetlana, a Cossack woman he met and fell in love with during his time as a World War II soldier, and is reluctantly joined by his granddaughter Adele, with whom Eduard has no intimate relationship. On the train from Berlin, they fight and exchange hurtful and bitter words, as Adele tries to crack open his grandfather’s hardened character. They meet Lew, a Russian-born Ukranian who helps them find Svetlana, and who is also strongly involved in the current political crisis in Ukraine, as pro-Russian separatists and Russian troops occupy and wreak havoc in the country. As it turns out, it is not only Eduard who has a goal to fulfil — towards the end of the film, Adele and Lew also realise things for themselves, and all three of them, affected by the wars, part ways and go in separate directions. 

The Final Journey unpacks the broad and complex predicament of being caught between the war without simplifying the experiences, capturing the contradictions and mazes of emotional strain that comes from choosing between terrible options just to be alive. When in the end Eduard utters, “I wanted to lock away the war. But I have thought about it every single day of my life,” one can feel not just the abyss of sorrow he has long fallen into but also the strength that has been keeping him alive over the decades, his reason for holding on to life and believing in it. Director Nick Baker-Monteys makes a deliberate link between the Holocaust and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, as well as the dreadful wars that have happened in between, indicating how civilians witnessing the senseless killings and persecutions carry the burden of remembering them in the past, present, and future. It is a compelling narrative that has never once become self-important, and instead is generous in laying down and examining both periods as actualities for the three characters. One walks away from The Final Journey with a heavy heart, but there is a relief of release, if only for a few seconds of fadeout. 

- Richard Bolisay

Richard Bolisay Richard Bolisay is a writer and film critic based in Manila. His essays on cinema have appeared in various publications online and in print. He is a participant of the Berlinale Talent Press and Locarno Critics Academy, and has been part of the jury of the Hong Kong International Film Festival, among others. 
Follow him on Twitter @richardbolisay

Film details

Germany, 2017
German title: Leanders letzte Reise
Director: Nick Baker-Monteys
Genre: Drama
English subtitles
Duration: 107 mins
Rating: R13

Awards and Nominations

Berlin & Beyond Film Festival San Francisco 2018, Audience Award "Best Narrative Feature Premiere"
Mamers en Mars Festival, Audience Award

Screening schedules

SM Aura Premier: 
Nov 9 - 9:30pm

SM City North EDSA: 
Nov 10 - 9:30pm

St. Louis University - Baguio
Nov 23 - 5:00pm

University of San Carlos - Cebu City

Liceo de Cagayan University - Cagayan de Oro
Dec 7 - 2:30pm