During term time, the Modern Languages department runs a monthly visit to the European Film Club. This is a local venture to show European films with a pre-screening introduction in the original language of the film. This thriving club is run by local parents Helen and Nico Mann in the Roxy Cinema in Axbridge, one of the smallest cinemas in the UK (it holds 36 seats!).
This month, however, the group of Upper Fifth and Sixth Form students had an unexpected surprise: as the pre-film presentation started, we were told that, with the director’s generous permission, we were actually going to be previewing the German film ‘Das letzte Mahl’ (‘The last Meal’) before it would be officially released in the UK within the next few months.
Another treat was the amazing opportunity to ask questions of one of the main actors, Daphna Rosenthal, who was present at the screening. The film is set on the day Hitler assumes power and shows how an affluent German-Jewish family comes together for dinner. Most of them – like many Germans at the time – do not take the Nazis seriously. When the daughter Leah announces her plans to emigrate to Palestine, her family talks her down. However, when her brother Michael indicates he’s actually an admirer of the National Socialist Movement, the family is on the brink of being torn apart.
Daphna Rosenthal responded to a variety of questions from the audience (including from some of our students) and shared her insights into her character, the grandmother of the family, and the historical and political context of the film. As Daphna is also German-Jewish, she told us that some of the photos used in the credits at the beginning of the film were of her family, including her grandfather who had received the Iron Cross for fighting in the First World War – this was particularly poignant as he and several members of her family were killed in concentration camps.
The whole evening was a remarkable and - as one of our students said – a sobering historical examination, brought to life by both the film and the presence of Daphna Rosenthal.
Céline Besson Potts Group photo: Tabea Baenisch (U6), Lucia Schadde (11P), Marlena Samson (11P), Birte Verdonk (11P), Daphna Rosenthal, Sarah Carr (U5), Merle Nagels (L6)