Page last updated at 14:19 GMT, Friday, 13 November 2009

Friday 13 November: German culture

On a special Newsnight Review, author and journalist Peter Millar, newspaper editor Anne McElvoy, critic Paul Morley and writer Maxa Zoller join Kirsty Wark to discuss how German culture addressed its past in the 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

And separately, the panel will also be testing and reviewing computer game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.


The White Ribbon
Does The White Ribbon pose questions about Germany's history?

Austrian director Michael Haneke's latest film, The White Ribbon is his first work to be set in the past.

The story takes place in a village in Northern Germany in the years preceding World War I, the film assesses the relationships of the villagers. A chain of strange occurrences begin to acquire the appearance of a ritual punishment and the village children are implicated.

The film's narrator claims the events shed light on the later history of Germany - will our panel be convinced?

Goodbye Lenin
Goodbye Lenin explores life in the former GDR

We look more broadly at recent cinema in Germany. The box-office hit The Lives of Others and comedy Goodbye Lenin give two very different pictures of life in the former GDR. Does either film present an accurate picture, and does it matter that both films were made by West-German film-makers?

And, are German artists engaging with the communist past as directly as artists from other countries or is it a time most seek to forget? We look for comparison at the work of Nobel prize winner Herta Muller and the new bleak Romanian comedy, Tales From the Golden Age, which also draw on the past of Eastern bloc life.

The White Ribbon opens in cinemas on Friday 13 December. The Lives of Others and Goodbye Lenin are available on DVD. Tales From the Golden Age is on general release. The Land of Green Plums by Herta Muller is published by Granta.


East German writer Oliver Fritz remembers the night the Berlin Wall fell. Dancing in an East Berlin club to Holly Johnson's Americanos, he and his friends ran across the border and ended up in a club on the other side of the wall, dancing to the same music.

He makes the case that pop was the force which inspired a generation to aim for freedom and brought down the wall, with David Hasslehoff's hit of the time Looking for Freedom, becoming a rallying call.

Will our panel agree that pop brought down the Berlin Wall?


Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has been criticised for its violence

The launch of the new computer game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has already broken first week sales records, with tills ringing in $310m in North America and the UK.

Set five years in the future, an anti-terrorist squad must fight against the Russian ultra nationalists who having seized control of their own country are launching terrorist attacks against others.

Our panel have been road testing it to decide if the gaming event of the year is overhyped or pushing the boundaries of first person play.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is published by Activision

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