spacetime coordinates: 9th century
Ingelheim am Rhein – the cathedral school in Dorestad – the Fulda monastery of Benedictines – Rome
Pope Joan (German: Die Päpstin) is an international epic film produced by Bernd Eichinger, based on American novelist Donna Woolfolk Cross‘ novel of the same name about the legendary Pope Joan. Directed by Sönke Wortmann, it stars Johanna Wokalek as Joan, David Wenham as Gerold, her lover, and John Goodman as Pope Sergius II.
The popular story of the ‘female Pope’ that has become widespread since the Middle Ages and thereafter. Pope Joan has been mentioned in works that were released several centuries after her supposed reign. Most modern scholars have dismissed the stories as fictional, due to lack of contemporary documentation, and the debunking of indirect evidence. Many theories abound that the lack of evidence is the result of successful attempts by the Catholic Church to erase Joan’s existence from history. The matter therefore remains controversial.
spacetime coordinates: 1505 – 1530 Saxony, Holy Roman Empire
Luther is a 2003 biopic about the life of Martin Luther (1483–1546) starring Joseph Fiennes. It was an independent film partially funded by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. The film covers Luther’s life from his becoming a monk to the Diet of Augsburg.
+The film takes place over the course of three decades. However, none of the characters show any signs of aging, including Luther and the youthful German emperor.+
spacetime coordinates: Germany in April, 1945
Fury is a 2014 American war film written and directed by David Ayer, and stars Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Peña, Jon Bernthal and Jason Isaacs. The film portrays US tank crews in Nazi Germany during the final days of World War II. Ayer was influenced by the service of veterans in his family and by reading books, such as Belton Y. Cooper’s Death Traps, about American armored units in World War II and the high casualty rates suffered by tank crews in Europe.
Portrayal of history
Europa (known as Zentropa in North America) is a 1991 Danish art drama film directed by Lars von Trier. It is von Trier’s third theatrical feature film and the final film in his Europa trilogy following The Element of Crime (1984) and Epidemic (1987). Europa was influenced by Franz Kafka‘s Amerika, and the title was chosen “as an echo” of that novel.
A young, idealistic American hopes to “show some kindness” to the German people soon after the end of World War II. In US-occupied Germany, he takes on work as a sleeping car conductor for the Zentropa railway network, falls in love with a femme fatale, and becomes embroiled in a pro-Nazi terrorist conspiracy.
Europa employs an experimental style of cinema, combining largely black and white visuals with occasional intrusions of colour having actors interact with rear-projected footage, and layering different images over one another to surreal effect. The voice-over narration uses an unconventional second-person narrative imitative of a hypnotist
The film’s characters, music, dialogue, and plot are self-consciously melodramatic and ironically imitative of film noir conventions.
spacetime coordinate: April – May 1945, Germany / Battle of Berlin / the Führerbunker
Downfall (German: Der Untergang) is a 2004 German-Italian-Austrian historical war drama film depicting the final 12 days of Adolf Hitler‘s rule over Nazi Germany in 1945. It was based on several histories of the period.
The film begins with an excerpt from the documentary Blind Spot: Hitler’s Secretary (2002), featuring the real Traudl Junge expressing her guilt and shame for admiring Hitler in her youth. The film continues showing Hitler (Bruno Ganz) hiring Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara) as his secretary at the Wolf’s Lair in East Prussia in November 1942.
The story resumes on 20 April 1945, the Führer’s birthday, during the Battle of Berlin.
spacetime coordinate: the north of Germany during the years before World War I
Das weiße Band, Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (literally, “The White Ribbon, a German Children’s Story”) darkly depicts society and family in a northern German village just before World War I and, according to Haneke, “is about the roots of evil. Whether it’s religious or political terrorism, it’s the same thing.”
The memories of an unnamed elderly tailor form a parable from the distant year he worked as a village schoolteacher and met his fiancée Eva, a nanny. The setting is the Protestant village of Eichwald, Germany, from July 1913 to 9 August 1914, where the local pastor, the doctor and the baron rule the roost over the area’s women, children and peasant farmers.