German Film Festival: The Path

In 1940 France, 12-year-old Rolf and his father Ludwig are being persecuted by the Nazis. The only way to freedom and their escape to New York is a steep path through the Pyrenees. Nuria, a girl only slightly older than Rolf, offers to guide them along the hazardous path

Winner of 2022’s Best Film (BUFF), The Path ticks all the boxes.

Directed by the highly talented Tobias Wiemann, it has a similar feel to his debut film Mountain Miracle (2017) with its central themes being hope, compassion and the commitment of friendship. Both films feature a pair of teenagers journeying together in beautiful landscapes.

The Path is set in 1940 France, with Julius Weckauf as Rolf and Nonna Cardoner as Nuri. The teenagers have each other to rely on as they travel a path through the Pyrenees to Spain alone, so that Rolf can join his mother in New York and escape Nazi persecution. Initially the pair are accompanied by Rolf’s journalist father Ludwig (Volker Bruch) however he is arrested near the start of the journey.

The two young adults are perfectly cast for the roles and give their roles complete authenticity, with Rolf the prepubescent, innocent and sheltered of the pair. In contrast is Nuri, who is realistically blunt and skilled in all parts of survival. She is multilingual, knows how to hunt, and can navigate the landscape. She also doesn’t trust adults.

The temperaments and personalities of the pair are so plausible that it would be unsurprising to find that they reflected the people on which the film is based (it is based on true events). However, it must be said that is the duo leads’ talent that bring the characters to life.

Trust, disobedience, taking responsibility for one’s actions, forgiveness of oneself, learning to cherish memories, love, hope, comradery, survival, sacrifices, and the losing of innocence are all themes that are effectively expressed in this film. Themes enhanced by the beauty and severity of the landscape.

As Rolf navigates the loss of his father, the artistic technique of not only flashbacks but imaginings of his father being present in current scenes (making jokes) give him snippets of joy and are soothing for him as the pair make their journey. By contrast for the schooled-in-life Nuri, it is progress on their path that brings her joy and comfort.

The film is suitable for all types of audiences, and it is impossible to walk away untouched. The most rewarding part? At first it appears only Rolf needs Nuri, however by the film’s end, it becomes clear they need each other. After all, it is not only physical survival skills that people need to carry on.

The Path screens as part of the German Film Festival at Palace Nova Eastend and Prospect

Click here for further details and to book tickets.

A film to melt your heart 5 stars

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