Das Versprechen (1994)
East-Berlin, 1961, shortly after the erection of the Wall. Konrad, Sophie and three of their friends plan a daring escape to Western Germany. The attempt is successful, except for Konrad, who remains behind. From then on, and for the next 28 years, Konrad and Sophie will attempt to meet again, in spite of the Iron Curtain. Konrad, who has become a reputed Astrophysicist, tries to take advantage of scientific congresses outside Eastern Germany to arrange encounters with Sophie. But in a country where the political police, the Stasi, monitors the moves of all suspicious people (such as Konrad's sister Barbara and her husband Harald), preserving one's privacy, ideals and self-respect becomes an exhausting fight, even as the Eastern block begins its long process of disintegration.
- In August 1961 the world was already divided, but no one ever dreamt of the long border reaching its full height. Moscow had the copyright for the concept and execution, and German firms delivered the barbed wire. An unjust regime has committed a new injustice, the west protested, threatened, and lamented, but the wall grew. All the arteries between the two halves of the city were served. To the people on both sides, separated by a few hundred meters between East & West became the longest strip of land in the world. So began the strangest experiments in history. A people who once made enough to rule the world became two. Soon the only the wall supported the illusion: All that divide Germany was a Wall.
The open sequence of the film follows a group of friends Konrad, Sophie, Max; Wolfgang, and Monika have all devised a way to cross the Berlin Wall without detection. The group maneuvers the sewer systems armed with the clothes on their back, a flashlight, and a map etched on the palm of their hand. The group must work under cover of darkness, all in mist of rotating patrols monitoring the wall. In act of urgency the group makes their way to the strategic sewer entrance to make the journey of smelly lower Germany. As Sophie, Max, Wolfgang, and Monika make their decent into the sewer Konrad is forced to seal the entrance because of approaching army patrols. Sophie would not go without Konard, but he assures her that he make the journey at a later date. Sophie and the rest of the group press on with their objectives of reaching the other side of the wall. On the surface Konrad is confronted by his parents who were out surveying the streets, fearing that he might have picked up from one of the circling patrols for trying escape over wall. Father and son embrace and is than rebuked for failure to tell his parents where he had gone, or what he was planning to do. In the fathers anger, he informs the authorities that his son as been found after searching for him through out most of night. Meanwhile Sophie and her cohorts navigate their way through waste infested sewers of Germany. Many are found covering their noises with scarfs with little resistance to the smell. After some considerable time the group finally makes it to her aunts house. Sophie and her and embrace, after not hearing from one another for days. Sophie reassures her and that despite traveling through the sewers of Germany they all made it out okay. When Sophie begins to inquire about Conrad Sophie informs her that he will be joining the group at a later date.
We next see Konrad seated motionless while a police is going the details of his capture. His conclusion is that the maximum for boarder crossing has a maximum penalty of five years. Thus an interrogation ensues where the inspector begins to explain that you no matter how hard he tried he, and all his friends would be caught. He then begins to tell Konrad insight Sophie, Max, Wolfgang and Monika have all been captured and detained by the government. Next he inquires about whom in the group had the drawing for the sewer system? Throughout the entire interrogation Konrad has not said a single word. His only gesture in the entire scene comes when he told tie his one shoelace on his left shoe. The inspector proceeds to tell Konrad how he must feel at that exact moment in time, similar to a caged animal wanting to be set free. The interrogator than tells him the true nature of why boarders were erected, to prevented East and West Germany could stop from shooting one another. He than acknowledges his disappointed that he had to attempt to cross borders, like so many others, and it was a shame he nor his comrades could be convinced of a lager understanding of why the wall was ever erected in the first place.
We now enter the apartment of Konrad and his parents. Konrad and his sister have grown anxious to know weather Sophie, Max. Wolfgang, and Monika were successful in their attempt to make it across boarders while avoiding all detection. Several hours have passed since Konrad saw Sophie, Max, Wolfgang, and Monika since the night of their escape. Konrad is found pleading his sister to contact the parents to ensure Sophie did make it across the boarder safely. Simone calmly assures Konrad that if the family had gotten a phone call, such an outcome would have confirmed the group might have been captured. This is the one scenario Konrad fears the most without a phone contact Konrad has no confirmation that Sophie is even alive and if might not see her ever again. Simone then lifts the head of her brother and makes him a promise that Sophie would contact him very soon, and the Wall not last long.
In this next scene we are exposed to a fashion we Sophie has been made in charge of helping models dress for a small fashion show for a small group of designers and clients alike. The fashion is much sophisticated then your average shopper of the day. Sophie has made herself at home with her aunt who has giving her something to smile about. In the middle of the fashion show, the stepfather of Sophie has paid a visit the aunt on suspicion that Sophie might have made it across and is staying with her and hiding out. Since the wall was erected, any civilians trying to jump over the wall without proper documentation will be reprehend and sent back or are shot. Sophie aunt reassures her stepfather that she came over for her desire to work in the industry, and so that is way she gave the chance to come and work for her as an assistant. The Stepfather only reason for his coming is so he and Sophie might have a chance to talk. Once alone in Sophie makes it clear that she has no desire to go back with him. After her father committed suicide in prison Sophie was sent to live with him. Given the tension in the scene, in is made clear their relationship with one another is rocky at best. The stepfather only wants her to go back with him because it is unlawful for any German citizen to be any portion of East and West Berlin without proper documentation. Following this there is a brief encounter between German investigators and the mother of Sophie. After an ongoing investigation into her sudden disappearance, authorities have come to inform her that Sophie has crossed boarder lines illegally, and by doing so, she has now declared herself as part of the enemy. Her mother remains committed to the understanding that all she wanted to do was visit her aunt and return home in just a few days time. The police affirm that because she chose to cross any part of the boarder without official authorization, she has now declared herself an enemy of Germany. Her mother is now being ordered to severe all contact between herself and Sophie. If she were to continue having correspondences with Sophie, she would also constitute herself as a member of the enemy.
Sophie and her Aunt are each revisiting old photos of when Sophie was just a little girl. Both of them have made the same distinction that in every picture the two of them ever took together, they always could see the two of them always holding hands. Sophie then makes the point that when she was a child, and even to the present day, her aunt said Sophie would always be her Aunt special little girl. In this same setting Sophie make another for her to pin a letter to her expressing her love for her. The Aunt said, should would if she could. With all prestige and money she ever made. Sophie was the one her Aunt loved most. This scene is followed by a short sequence of Sophie swinging back and forth on a swing set hug from a tree as her aunt looks on through the living room of the house. Konrad standing still in contemplation about what he will be doing with life until he knows his beloved Sophie is back in his arms forever. Following this Konrad pivots around and finds himself staring at an arching bridge with a passing train.
We next hear the shouting of orders of what to do if any civilian try and jump over the wall. The German Army has established border patrol units to monitor the wall around the clock. This is the first of its kind, and to the Germans is the most humane way to police and cut down on then number of people making attempts to hurdle the wall. Those who do not choose to follow these new regulations are considered a member of the enemy. The scene is a small band of patrol officers running through the drill of Stop, do not move or I will shoot! The solider is than to run an stab the escapee with his basinet in both the right and left lung. Konrad is one of the men required to take part in this drill. As the drill makes his way down the first line of boys, he comes to a boy, as it is his to simulate the drill. The boy can only muster the words, stop dont move. This only irritates the drill instructor and reminds him, he is a solder. The orders are, find capture and destroy. When the boy is told to carry on, he boy can only say stop, dont move1 The instructor then approaches him and says, Are you against Peace? Fall out! With a single act, a feeling is placed within the heart of Konard, the strongest example for change is silent disobedience.
This is follow by a span of the wall. The wall is out fitted with guards stationed all along the wall acting as surveillance for the patrols down below. Next we see and hear a series of two pre-recorded forms of propaganda media transmitted on two moving trucks with megaphones one side of the wall is calling for the end of the wall and the oppression of the German people. On the flipside of all that there is opposition propaganda calling for the reform of East Germany, there is only one group of Germany that will survive such a war, and those are those members of the socialist party. Solders layer all of this radio propaganda up above the wall, and those on the ground monitoring checkpoints of those approaching the wall and than waving to family members across the wall. The soldier maintains a watchful eye one the slightest gesture could initiate a possible attempt to hurdle the wall. Patrol guards understand that if its see the actions of its laws taking affect, the chances of one, or large number of civilians hurdling the wall is greatly reduced by having such measures in place. Konrad knows in his mind and heart that he be given a chance to be re-united with his beloved Sophie one day very soon.
We next enter the Konrad dinning room during a family meal. The subject has turned to the topic of why Konrad was put on the border to serve out his probation for him choosing not to participate in the drill exercise that was talked earlier. The family seems a bit on edge because of why Konrad was assigned to border patrol in the first place. The family discussion becomes heated as everyone professes their own opinion as to why the family has become so argumentative since every sibling in the Konrad household has been affected in by the presence of the wall, in one way or another.
We come to a moment now where Konrad has been asked to work the night shift. In the silence of the night Konrad tries to make a run for it over the wall without detection. He know that is as good of an opportunity he might ever get. Through his binoculars he surveys the distance from the guard shack to the wall. He then turns and calls for his partner Ouve, who is sleeping on his watch. After a second of calling his name, Konrad quietly as possible begins his slow descent from the guard tower to the base of the tower. Check the observation window a final time he makes his way towards the wall. When the end is in sight Konrad recognizes a familiar command Stop, or I will shoot! as Konrad turns both he and his partner are a bit confused on what to make of the events that had just transpired. Ovue, is bound to know why Konrad was running from the guard shack. Konrad reported he something moved towards the wall to investigate. Ouve then responded that he would have report Konrad for regulation practices. Konrad was also quick to remind Ovue, that he should be reported for sleep on his watch. That is an offense also worthy of investigating.
We now sift to Sophie and her comrades who are all gathered around the television listen to the lasts reports on those attempts that have tried and failed. The news report advised its listening audience to exercise caution when contemplating a boarder crossing. The Report also makes a strong emphasis against building tunnels for the simple fact that no matter how well constructed they may appear to be, it would only take a moment to have it all come cashing down. The final comment the report did make was, there would come a day, where there be no wall.
Next is a scene of reuniting of Max, Sophie, and Wolfgang and Monika. Max has made it a job of providing worthy patrons safe passage across the border while avoiding detection. Word has reached Max about the relationship between her and responsibility of maintaining his position as a boarder patrol officer would a bit more for anyone to handle. Max inquires of Sophie, what if Konrad would not want to come back? Sophie just knew that he Konrad would just about anything to see Sophie in his arms again. We next meet Konrad at the train station surveying the trains as they pull into the station. We then see a man in black leather scanning a photograph of Konrad and Sophie, at which point, the man strategically walks past Konrad as to not make anything suspicious. The two men exit the station together headed two the street. The conversation was brief instruction on the plan is to follow through. There is no turning back now. If Konrad sticks to the plan, Konrad would be reunited with his beloved Sophie in no time. Later that same afternoon as Konrad was exiting a railway car. Konrd becomes a first hand witness to a pubic abduction of women by two men and shoved into the back seat of an unmarked car that was following a second lead car. The cause of the cause for the kidnapping and the two unmarked vehicle is yet to be determined.
We next meet up with Sophie who is working a fashion show when Wolfgang has come to inform her about the groups latest attempt to crossing proved to be a failure, as only the first five members of group made passage safely. When Sophie asked if Konrad had made it as one of the first five, his only response was, he was lucky that he never showed up. Sophie simply did not want to belief what she had been told. She had to put this all behind here, as she was in the middle of a fashion show. It was not until after the show that Sophie found a couch, for now, she was convinced that Konrad had really been captured. There is also fear within Sophie might never be able see ever again. The next scene is simply acts as a continuation of the pervious one. The only difference this time it is Konrad who is found out sobbing for witnessing the kidnapping of that girl and no being able to do anything to stop it for fear that his true identity is discovered and might be the one who is forced to slave around for amusement of everyone else.
We now transition to the summer of 1968, where Konrad has been sent to work for the Astronomy institute in Potsdam under the tutelage of the ability to do research and build a resume of credits to his name without have to have fear of his true identity being discovered. During all his years in the observatory. Konrad also changed his first name to conceal his connection within any and all ties with the people of Germany. Over his tenor there, he had learned to establish a theory and build such a machine that could demonstrate the practical application of Herr Richter Dynamo theory and has been in asked to give a lecture at the IAU Conservatory in Prague. The lecture would to explain the appearance of sunspots. Before leaving for Prague Konrad meets up his Barbra and her friend to share his excitement about going to Prague for the first. His trip will not just be about business, it will also to surprise Sophie with a letter in a sealed envelope with the goal being to ask her to marry him.
Once in Prague According to the letter that are to meet in front of the statue with three statues. After some time has passed Sophie asked a store clerk where the specific statues were located. As it turned out the statue of three was really a statue of four. It didnt long after that to find one another after that, because when they did, their embrace was a firm as it ever was. It simply became a joy to be together again at last. Over dinner set all the uncertainties right again. After dinner the two ran circling the fancy hotel and for the time in each of Konrad & Sophie enjoy a night of intercourse.
Following day Konrad is late arriving at his presentation. Upon arriving at the seminar, his friend and has all ready taking the liberty to start explaining many of the information contained on the slides. Once Konrad arrives he simply picks up where his friend Edward Lornez had finished. Once sitting the down a friends of the doctor, suggests that he tri and find out as much as he can about them. So at the conclusion of the seminar the doctor invites the two of them for a drink. During their time the good doctor learns all he can about his two young friends, this in turn puts Konrad and Sophie a bit on edge, because they do not want to give away information that would expose them and be sent back to Germany.
Next we find Konrad and Sophie and a historian and discussing new theories relative to the sun energy. Next we see the three friends at a dance club enjoying a bit of fun dancing to up tempo song of rock in roll. That night Konrad and Sophie are awakened to the sound of breaking glass, and the rumbling of German tanks that have made their way into the streets of. Konrad and Sophie look on, as they are not sure what the future from this moment on. At the break of day, citizens have taken the streets trying to collect any information as to way the tanks are present-many people are simply obtain and the scene is simply utter chaos. In the next sequence of scenes images and audio recordings relieve the events of the riots that broke out that year in 1968. We than transition back into the sequence of our story. After all that has transpired the last few days, small numbers of people have began to assemble in response to those Germans who sacrifice their lives for a cause. Standing of a government building a group of silent protesters with signs are approached by German police officials and asked what is the meaning of this small gathering? The simple reply is, in memory of those who have already die as a result of such a war. The reaction from the police is standard, all citizens who assemble in opposition to the to the affairs of the government will be sent to detained with out any further argument. Any that should resist will be taken by force.