Changing Skins (Raus aus der Haut) (review)
For bored, stifled East German teens in the 1970s, Red Army Faction terrorists on the other side of the Berlin Wall became heroes to be cheered, much to the consternation of their good-communist elders. Inspired by an infamous RAF kidnapping of a high-profile industrialist, high-schoolers Anna (Susanne Bormann) and Marcus (Fabian Busch) hatch a plan to snatch one of their teachers and school administrators, Herr Rottmann (Otto Mellies), who threatens to ruin the rest of their lives by withholding a much-needed recommendation for their upcoming university appointments. This 1997 film would not be out of place alongside such American dark teen comedies of the time — such as 1989’s Heathers — though it is, needs be, far more bitter in its humor, set in a world of legally dictated conformity, instead of a merely culturally dictated one, and far more insightful concerning the yearnings that drove young and old alike to test the constraints of a rigid society. The academic-flavored extras, prepared by University of Massachusetts students and professors of Germanic language and literature, include an essay on “Youth Culture, Terrorism and German Film History,” an introduction to director Andreas Dresen’s films, and an interview with Dresen, winner of the Andrzej Wajda/Philip Morris Freedom Prize.