The film’s last word is “shit”. Angela Merkel says it after one hour, 56 minutes and 58 seconds. She says it at the end of a long, well-worth seeing, gripping ARD film about the refugee crisis of summer 2015. The Chancellor says it quietly, grimly and furrowed. She says it after storming out of Hall C 1 of Messe München, keeping her composure. She drops into the back seat of her government limousine: “Shit”. It is November 20, 2015.
Just three months earlier, at the federal press conference, the Chancellor said: “We can do it.” Three words, 14 letters, one hope. Now she has just delivered a promotional greeting at the CSU party conference. Horst Seehofer, then head of the CSU and Prime Minister, then whispered her down on the open stage, condescendingly and rudely, and called for an “upper limit” for refugees. It is the prelude to months of demands, the outbreak of a brutal power struggle between the CSU and CDU – the Seehofer loses, Merkel does not win and the AfD, which at that time stood at four percent, benefits.
In summer and autumn 2015, the euro and Greece crisis, with which the film begins, will be replaced by the refugee crisis. This time from August to November, 63 days of fate, is the theme of the television film The driven. The film is, according to the credits, “based on motifs” from the non – fiction book of the same name worldJournalist Robin Alexander shot. Director Stephan Wagner and screenwriter Florian Oeller did an amazing job. Of the rage of the non-fiction book, when you read it – like Mariam Lau in the time wrote – constantly feeling the “tremendous Rochus” of the conservative author on the head of government, there is no trace.
The film shows a Chancellor who is very sympathetic, deeply human, even in the most tense and calm, even in her weaknesses. The film is almost a declaration of love to Angela Merkel. And that one sometimes has the feeling that the film could also be used to initiate her canonization is certainly also due to the great performance of the actress Imogen Kogge. It gives Merkel an aura that combines humanity and highly professional state femininity.
Horst Seehofer is played in the film by Sepp Bierbichler, who has mastered Seehofer’s body language like a twin brother. Bierbichler, however, takes away the rogue that Seehofer possesses; he interprets the man darkly, almost morbidly; you can feel that this senior Seehofer will be subject to Markus Söder, who is diabolically played by Matthias Kupfer – and that the anti-refugee furor that Seehofer is getting into will not help him and will not harm Söder. Actor Timo Dierkes also puts something slightly diabolical in his portrayal of the then SPD boss and Minister of Economics Sigmar Gabriel. In the film, it comes across as tactical and strategically sophisticated. It is a real experience: the acting performances in this film are remarkable throughout.
If it had been up to the presidents of the federal police, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution and the Federal Criminal Police Office, who eagerly and zealously watch each other in the film, the Chancellor would have had to close the borders for refugees and defend them by force. Irritant gas, batons and water cannons – also against women and children? These are images that concern Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière (Wolfgang Pregler), who is dragging himself through the film and the refugee crisis, coughing and sick – and is unable or unwilling to implement the Chancellor’s refugee admission policy administratively. Had the Chancellor stopped the refugees by force, would she have had to accept the deaths and injuries? Dead refugee children not on the beach in Bodrum, but on the German border near Passau?
Then she would have had to make a statement on television, for example as follows: “We have been generous for a long time. But Germany cannot accept the suffering of the world, it is too big. We therefore had to close and protect the borders. The means we use we don’t like to use it. But unfortunately there are no others. We have to face this need, we have to endure these images together for the sake of stability and order in Europe. So Seehofer and Co. would have liked to hear it. In a very pointed, armored phone call, which is one of the film’s grandiose passages, Merkel explains to an indignant Seehofer in four points why she cannot and does not do this. The Merkel actress Imogen Kogge succeeds in such a touchingly convincing determination as the real Chancellor would have liked to have heard and heard.
The most convincing Merkel critic in the film is not Seehofer, but Joachim Sauer, the chancellor’s husband. In the evening conversation in the living room, when the two were discussing “We can do it”, he accused her of Germany, under her leadership, watching the war in Syria and its terrible horrors for five years inactive – and she replied helplessly: “Should I justify to you that I didn’t end the Syria war? “
The film puts a soft focus on Merkel’s politics, also because it ends on time, namely on November 20. In interviews, the Chancellor still talks about “having the situation under control” and “absolutely” holding on to her admission policy, but these are attempts at conjuring up.
It wants to appear straightforward while its government’s policies are already ticking. She talks about the friendly face of her politics, but the new laws her government is making are the strictest since the fundamental right to asylum was curtailed. Merkel talks about taking in refugees; their government practices their defense. This political division, this conflict, this Merkelian dialectic is not addressed. Gerhard Schröder described the splendor and misery of his successor’s refugee policy as follows: “Ms. Merkel had a heart, but no plan.” That the plan on 4/5. September, when she made the decision to accept refugees, nobody can blame her. The problems that came up were too new and big. The film expresses this well. It was a misery that there was still no concerted planning and action ten weeks later.
The Chancellor, her Chancellery Minister Peter Altmaier (wonderfully confidently played by Tristan Seith) and the Federal Minister of the Interior should have convened a round table – to discuss the activities of the federal, state and local authorities, business and industry, the Federal Office for Migration and the Federal Employment Agency, coordinated by charities and churches. No, the refugee policy certainly did not suffer from too much heart. She suffered from too little planning and planning. That would be the subject of a second part of the film about The Driven.
The driven, The first, Wednesday, 8.15 p.m.