1 9 9 0 (UK)
6 x 60 minute episodes
Sidonie Reiger’s (Miranda Richardson) German ex-husband kidnaps their children and takes them back to his hometown of Hamburg.
Complications arise when she starts delving into his past, specifically his involvement with the (fictional) German revolutionary group the Red Liberation Front, which seems to be loosely based on the notorious Baader- Meinhof gang.
Richardson’s performance is excellent, and at times quite startling. The scenes in the emptying playground provided an effective build-up to her discovery that her ex, Stefan (Hans Kremer), had disappeared with her children, and while her portrayal of a mother desperate to find them may on occasion have seemed a little humourless, it was nevertheless an extraordinarily powerful piece of acting.
Indeed, it was Richardson who carried the opening episode, as the viewer was rapidly transported from the familiarity of the UK to relatively foreign territory in a newly united Germany.
The footage in Hamburg and Berlin was adequate in conveying Sidonie’s progress in her search but gave no real sense of place. While producer, Michael Wearing, and director, Rob Walker, may have been keen to avoid token shots of the cities, more was needed to alert the viewer to the changes in the backdrop. For those with no knowledge of Germany, there was insufficient material for them to gain a sense of being there.
There were greater difficulties for the uninitiated when faced with trying to understand the strata of German society and in particular the political activists whose demonstrations made such an impact in the country during the late sixties and early seventies. The average British viewer may be more intelligent than some television executives give them credit for, but there ought to have been a little more time devoted to explaining what the RLF stood for and its significance in German history.
The fact that Die Kinder was not just a reference to Sidonie’s offspring but also to the RLF as “the children of the revolution” needed to be hammered home a little more obviously.
The participation of American public television channel WGBH Boston as co-producer presumably accounts for the presence of rather stereotypical Yank Lomax (Frederic Forrest), an alcoholic private detective; but the American input that was really required was a quickening up in pace, which tended to drag at times.