“We Are Peaceful”
We live in an increasingly divided world. From Brexit and the rise of Trump through to something as trivial as The Last Of Us Part 2 being a masterpiece or a disaster, these bubbling conflicts don’t look like quelling any time soon. At the center of all this though, is the ever-growing divide between the views of left and right political parties. It seems centrism is a thing of the past, and if you haven’t picked a side, you’re going to be left behind.
That leads nicely onto German political drama And Tomorrow the Entire World. Originally conceived as a historical drama, the fact the setting was changed to the modern day speaks volumes about how little has really changed either side of the political spectrum.
At the center of this growing conflict is 20 year old Luisa, an impressionable law student who comes from an upper-class family. Her Father is a stuffy old man, hunting for sport and scoffing at the idea of left-wing views – especially as you grow older than 40. Becoming increasingly disenfranchised with her parents, Luisa joins Antifa, a far-left political organization who oppose the fascists in Germany.
However, all is not rosy in the garden of Antifa. The group are split, with students Batte and Alfa taking up different stances respectively. Batte wants to continue down the peaceful route, protesting and chanting. Pie throwing, putting posters up and paint-filled eggs are about the extent of the violent uprising she envisions.
By comparison we have Alfa, a young man who parades around the group as a young Che Guevara, determined to send a message through increasingly violent means.
Torn between both sides is Luisa, who finds herself drawn to violent acts after a particularly traumatic incident at an early protest. As the film progresses, the picture explores the notion of violence begetting violence, along with (whether intentional or not) the idea that extreme left-wing groups aren’t much better than extreme right wings.
Throughout the film we see Luisa and the gang hitting back against the fascists – often violently. Through this the ideas of Antifa are presented, but more in-fighting inevitably breaks out. Aside from Luisa though, every other character here feels very one-dimensional and there’s not a whole lot of growth across the film. It also doesn’t help that this group feels more reactionary and emotionally charged than they perhaps should.
Interestingly, And Tomorrow the Entire World uses a unique framing device. The camera is constantly pinned on Luisa almost the entire time. There’s an abundance of rapid cuts, lots of shaky camera work and a frenetic energy that leans into the evolving ideals of our protagonist. Sometimes it works really well, while other times not so much.
The problem with this comes from the pacing, which flies through a number of different protests without really hanging the camera on Luisa and seeing Mala Emde’s acting. Sure, she gets some good moments late on and some particularly expressive shots of her face, but too often we follow from behind or rapidly cut between characters, diluting what’s otherwise a decent performance from her.
This German film is certainly engaging though and the ending leans into that earlier idea of whether left and right wing groups are really that much different from one another. I won’t spoil what happens but suffice to say it’s worth sitting through the opening scroll of credits.
Ultimately, And Tomorrow the Entire World challenges the idea of violence and where the line is drawn between right and wrong. This serves as the proverbial beating heart of this German film and it does a pretty good job across the run-time exploring that. It’s not perfect, but for the themes and ideas alone, this one’s certainly worth checking out.