Film screening Stopped on Track

Halt auf freier Strecke © Rommel Film Foto/Andreas Dresen


Goethe-Institut New York

30 Irving Place
New York, NY 10003

Frank and Simone have fulfilled their dream and live with their two children in a townhouse in the suburbs. They are a happy couple until the day Frank is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. The family is suddenly confronted with death. The time to say goodbye is short, which makes the situation all the more difficult for Frank.

Andreas Dresen conveys through this moving and yet unsentimental drama how people cope with this problem in isolation and within the family circle, at home rather than in a hospital or hospice. It is inspired by experiences with people from his immediate surroundings. What’s special about this film is that he directs his attention where others either look away, hide behind metaphors or blur reality. To watch the family as they say goodbye to one another is both moving and comforting. Taking part in Frank’s ever slowing life and his trains of thought, Andreas Dresen takes a large element of terror out of death.

Dresen gives his protagonist great dignity. One does not pity him, but rather endures with him on his path of suffering. Caesuras repeatedly occur. When the misery is too strong, Dresen allows the viewer a moment to breathe, only to catapult him back into merciless reality a moment later. Sometimes even fantasy elements come into play, such as when the tumor takes human form or when then radio seems to give special updates on the protagonist’s state of doom. With extraordinary emotional intensity, Andreas Dresen confronts us with terminal illnesses and death, which inevitably awaits all of us. He leads us to a place of pain.

Andreas Dresen, Germany, 2011, 110 Min.