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Despite often trafficking in dark themes in his films — his last three films all center around seemingly normal people whose lives are ravaged by corrupt and often evil governments — filmmaker Christian Petzold’s real skill is couching seemingly understandable stories and emotions in thrillingly complex narratives. There are always secrets at the heart of his films, but they are beguiling and unique twists, never shoved into stories for the **** of it, always essential to the entire experience he’s attempting to give to his audience.
A Petzold feature is best enjoyed with the minimum of existing information, which makes the first trailer for his “Transit” such a joy. While “Transit” is based on Anna Seghers’ novel of the same name, knowing what happens in that book — written in 1944, set in 1942 — doesn’t dilute the imaginative power of the film, which Petzold pulls out of time to be, well, timely and not at all rooted in the World War II environs of Seghers’ story. And yet the film can’t exist without them, even as it slips between now and then, finding terrifying parallels...
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