Cast of 'Alone in Berlin' sees parable for today's Europe

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Posted: Feb 15, 2016 2:35 PM
Cast of 'Alone in Berlin' sees parable for today's Europe

BERLIN (AP) — The drama "Alone in Berlin," about a middle-aged German couple who risk their lives to oppose the Nazis, contains lessons for present-day Europe and its treatment of refugees, cast members said Monday.

Premiering at the Berlin Film Festival on Monday, the film is based on a 1947 book by German author Hans Fallada that became a surprise hit in the U.S. and Britain when it was first translated into English seven years ago.

"What the film is dealing with is unfortunately still very relevant and current because in all of Europe, especially in this country, there is a movement to the right," said German actor Daniel Bruehl, who plays a Gestapo officer tasked with finding out who is leaving postcards with anti-Nazi messages around Berlin. "I think we all have to be very alert that we are not poisoned by all those people and their rising racist and fascist attitude."

The recent influx to Europe of people fleeing war and persecution in Africa, Asia and the Middle East has been accompanied by a rise in anti-foreigner violence and growing support for nationalist parties, especially in Germany.

"The sense of people turning their backs on people who need help ... not being able to say the truth, not being able to say what you really feel I think is very current at the moment," said Emma Thompson, who plays Anna Quangel, a mother who blames Adolf Hitler for her son's death during World War II.

Brendan Gleeson, who plays her on-screen husband Otto Quangel, said the couple stood out precisely because they were unremarkable people until the moment they decided to voice dissent.

"Even if in practical terms they didn't start a revolution, the idea of a personal and ordinary refusal to go along with the policy of hatred, I think, is a massive thing," he said.

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This story has been corrected to say that first English translation of play was 7 years ago, not 5 years.