This is now rattling along at such a pace and so laden with 1980s fears that the chassis is in danger of falling apart. I can’t decide if the creators are keeping their foot on the accelerator for fear that viewers should otherwise notice the loose ends and credibility challenge, or if they think we are such smart elves that we immediately twig the fleeting allusions and don’t need to have them spelled out for us.
Alex’s attempt to video the American general in the brothel was just silly. Except that, in the context of the 1970s and early 80s, perhaps it wasn’t that far-fetched. The Red Army Faction, the Red Brigades, Bologna, the Weathermen, Patty Hearst, Aldo Moro, regular plane hijackings, pub bombings, terrorism as somehow sexy (the Daily Mirror loved beautiful hijackers, and Gaddafi was a pin-up for a while), the uncertainty for young Germans of what their parents had (however unwillingly or unwittingly) been involved with when they were young . . . I’d almost forgotten all that.
My preference is for longer shots to give us an understanding of a character’s state of mind – so I wasn’t impressed that there was only a short close-up of Annett before she decided to betray Martin’s mother. Except that . . . how much explication and preparation do I need? It is documented that people turned in their family members to the Stasi, and it’s perfectly conceivable that a teacher of Young Pioneers really would believe that a copy of 1984 was a threat to a well-ordered communist society exactly as Annett said she did.
The role of the East Germans in facilitating terrorism in the west is also documented, so the brief episode with the bomber rang true. (It also reminded me that I had enjoyed reading Philip Hensher’s Pleasured.) But it did feel like a exercise in contemporary resonance + opportunity for Martin to discover the depths to which he can descend. Tick, tick.