(Mini) Miniseries review: “Charite at War”

Reposted from my original post on Facebook in 2019:

I was floored by this hidden gem I found on Netflix: “Charite at War”, a German language (with English subtitles) mini-series about a hospital operating in Berlin in the last two years of WWII. I highly recommend it!

First off, I knew none of the actors, so they played their characters, not themselves. They were convincing as historical persons facing the terrible hardships of war and I loved a good handful of them before the end. A feature of the film that I enjoyed is that historical footage of public scenes in 1940s Berlin (I presume) is used at appropriate times.

Second, the characters were as (or nearly as) complicated and mixed as reality. I ended up loving a character I was initially convinced was a selfish villaness. When I think I recognize stock characters and then realize they are admirable in spite of being petty at times, I am humbled and impressed with the integrity of the art.

Third, the central drama surrounds the “mercy” killing of the disabled, a subject very near to my heart as I have two sons with a form of muscular dystrophy. (Additionally, I have a personality type that was intermittently targeted for elimination by the Nazis as harmfully “anti-social”.) Convenient agreement with Nazi ideas which is then challenged and overcome by love, compromise and collusion with anti-human values, and the lasting consequences of your choices are all weighty aspects of this storyline. I loved it.

One caveat: there is a homosexual affair as a side story. I feel that this was the closest to a nod toward contemporary controversies that was present and it lead to what felt most like a modern story inserted into another era. I grant that it isn’t necessarily unrealistic as there have always been homosexual people. There are some shots of men kissing in several episodes. I personally don’t feel the need to approve of everything in what I watch, so I was able to set that aside. Even so, the movie wasn’t at all titillating, but serious minded and worthy of a watch by thoughtful people, in my judgment.

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