Free Country: The Hidden Face of German Reunification

August 1, 2020 by No Comments

On June 5, the film Free Country (2019), directed by director Christian Alvart, opens in Filmin. In our country, the premiere has a particular morbidity, because the film is based on the work of our country, the thriller The Minimum Island (2014), directed by Alberto Rodríguez, which was so successful among critics and audiences. The film presents us with a Buddy Movie set just two years after German reunification, after the fall of socialism in the GDR. You can read HERE another review made by Cinema gavia.

Synopsis of ‘Free Country’

In this kind of  Free Country, a German remake of “The Minimum Island”, directed by a specialist in genre cinema such as Christian Alvart (Cut Off, Don’t Get. Out!), The transfer of the action from Spain to Germany adds other historical factors to the investigation, directly linked to a Germany split in two that tries to break through in full reunification. Demons of the past and hostility accumulated over decades add to the investigators, exceptionally interpreted in a state of anxiety and permanent danger as their investigation, in search of a serial killer, delves into strange territories.

In the fall of 1992, two very different police inspectors have the mission of investigating the disappearance of two teenagers in a remote area of  the country. Did they run away from home or did something more terrible happen? The unknown is cleared when they find their bodies and find that they were brutally raped and killed. A whole series of mysteries are then opened to solve the case, in which implications that go beyond appearances appear. ( FILMIN ).


The movie Free Country is set just two years after the reunification of Germany. In a small town in eastern Germany, Lowitz, two young men are reported missing. Two agents, one from Federal Germany and the other from what was previously East Germany, come together to discover what happened.

Free Country shows well that climate of reunification, which was certainly not as brilliant as it was tried to sell at first. In the film we can see to a large extent the consequences of the whole process and the hidden face, and it is precisely these localist peculiarities that separate the film from the Spanish original. Lowitz represents the typical nucleus that suffered the consequences of reunification, economically forgotten by the western part, and ruined by deindustrialization.

The title of the film itself, which is also made a direct allusion in one of the dialogues of the film, refers to the supposed freedom that arose in the eastern territories after reunification, which also brought with it (or revealed, since the subject was not discussed before) capitalist “vices”. On the other hand, the character of Markus, the policeman from East Germany, also highlights the numerous brutal methods learned during his time at the Stasi.

Buddy movie subgenre

Also in the sub-genre of the Buddy Movie, which the film firmly embraces, these differences can be seen. Patrick Stein, the western police officer, is a much more restrained man in his way of acting, he hardly uses violence despite his profession, nor does he stand out for his physique. His partner, Markus, is just the opposite, motley, determined and unscrupulous. Surely in this section Free Country throw more than fat brush, although it works because both characters are credible and have enough charisma.

The plot of the conspiracy

As with the minimal island, the film underpins much of the intrigue in “the conspiracy theory.” What a priori seems a case of disappearance of two young girls, sooner ends up being a case of double homicide, which not only has a simple psychopath behind, but also seems to cover people or societies behind and tells us about important people undercover.

It is true that the framework with which Free Country is built is much simpler than in Alberto Rodríguez’s film. Here, we find fewer layers of complexity, and the movie clues lead the viewer in a linear fashion, for a movie that doesn’t have as many second readings and is easier for the average viewer to follow. Alvart has definitely made a movie with a much more commercial tint, which is neither good nor bad.

Efficient product, but without magic

The result is a film that complies in all aspects, but which is seen perhaps without the claw that differentiates compliant films from great films. We can see it for example in the sequence of the disco. If, in the Spanish film, this sequence was really shocking and made us shrink our hearts, here it not only causes a shrug. Similarly, it would not be able to highlight any sequence of the film, in terms of composition or formal resolutions.

Free Country Movie Conclusion

Adapted to localist ways, Free Country  is a fulfilling film, which presents us with a police story that reveals the miseries of the German Reunification, as well as the dirty rags of one and the other Germany. However, the tracing with the minimum Island is too pronounced, and for those who have already seen Alberto Rodríguez ‘s film, the film may seem too predictable.

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