From Book to Film – The Aftermath – Rhidian Brook
A story of love in wartime Germany
Postwar Germany. Colonel Lewis Morgan arrives in a ruined Hamburg to help rebuild the city. It has been bombed beyond recognition and he has a very tough job on his hands. He and his wife move into a plush home on the banks of the River Elbe where they will live whilst they work on the huge task ahead of them. However, this house isn’t theirs – it’s been requisitioned from a German man.
What’s more, he’s still living in the property so they agree to let him stay if the two parts of the house remain very separate. He is keen to stay as he loves his country and doesn’t want to leave the house he shared with his late wife and his rebellious daughter Frieda.
Rachel isn’t keen on the arrangement either and since Lewis is away a great deal,has to live with a strange German man. She can’t believe how her husband can be so unforgiving to the Germans since they effectively destroyed her life and killed her son. This strange German man is in his house but they are now living there. A strange situation. When he tries to talk to her, she blanks him. She is shocked when he confronts her one day and tells her a few home truths. Shocked further still, when she can’t deny the growing attraction between them which has been creeping up on her for longer than she cares to admit.
Setting: wartime Germany
A story I read some time ago but when the film came out, I was keen to see how the story would come to the screen. How does a book translate to the screen?
The book is good and the story a unique angle on the war time story. Families often did have to stay in the homes which had been requisitioned by the Germans. How this must have felt is something I can’t even begin to imagine. The grand house in this book is maybe not the best example as many homes the Germans took over were ordinary homes of ordinary people.
The characters despite the emotion in the story are surprisingly flat. I think for the depth of the story, the book is far too short. The faltering love story between Rachel and Herr Lubert happens too quickly for me but it was an interesting story to follow. How would you feel if the enemy stayed in the house where you were living? How would he feel by his house being requisitioned? What about his young daughter? Already damaged by the loss of her mother, she is struggling with the changing situation right in the heart of her home.
The film brought out the remote, vastness of the house, the hollowness of the situation well but the story felt flat on screen for me. It’s all very beautiful and artistic but the cast chosen for the characters were all wrong. I needed a German actor in the role of Herr Lubert (although I love Alexander Sarsgard) and Keira Knightly although suitably uptight and prime in this role, wasn’t the woman whose heart I felt melted towards the end. There was no chemistry between husband and wife and the story wasn’t as believable as in the book.
A fascinating story but the translation from book to screen didn’t work for me
BookTrail Boarding Pass: The Aftermath