For many, the stakes and the scale of World War II are hard to fathom. It was a war fought around the world, against powerful, determined regimes in Europe and the Pacific; some 65 million people died. And as the number of people who have actual memories of the war dwindle — as of next year, there will be fewer than 1 million living veterans — the mission of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans becomes all the more urgent.
For years, I've taken issue with depictions of mentally ill characters in books and movies. Irrational behavior is easily explained away: They're crazy! No need to elaborate further.
So when I picked up Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See, I was apprehensive that the main character, an untreated bipolar Hollywood studio executive who leaves his wife and child for an international adventure, might be a kooky manic cliche.
The historical drama is a staple of the film awards season, and the tortured history of modern Germany — with its echoes of the brutal Third Reich and war — has played a central role in many an award-winning film. But the new film Barbara, which was Germany's official entry to this year's Oscars, is a nuanced portrait of the more recent history of a newly reunited East and West.