I just realized a connection between two posts -- the last one with John Cleese and the wonderful Andrew Sachs, and the recommendation a few weeks ago about the Chinese film, Hero, that got nominated for the Best Foreign Language Picture Oscar in 2002. You might think that that would be a stretch, but o ye of little faith. Bear with me.
The year Hero was nominated, the film that won the Oscar was Nowhere in Africa, a German-language movie. I think on pure filmmaking bravado, I prefer Hero, though its story is thin compared to Nowhere in Africa, which is a rich, sprawling, yet personal epic. Very intelligent, very involving, very entertaining and beautifully done, It's based on an autobiographical novel about a Jewish family that is forced to quickly leave Germany right before World War II and settles in Kenya, and deals with their difficulty of the adjustment, thinking that they can go back home soon, and slowly realizing that they can't.
And in a small, but very nice role as an emigre from back home, also living in Kenya is...Andrew Sachs! (See?! I told you I'd get there.) He's wonderful in the film, elegant and charming, but making it even more impressive is that his entire role is performed in German. Fluently, as far as I can tell.
I wouldn't recommend Nowhere in Africa just to see Andrew Sachs -- the role is good, but too small for that. However, I would recommend Nowhere in Africa, just because it's quite wonderful. And getting to see Andrew Sachs is just a bonus.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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