“Germany, huh? So you’re Nazis” “No, we’re not Nazis. We’re communists. Ja, free communists.” This tongue-in-cheek exchange between two friends, Tom and Veit, and the American immigration officer in New York characterizes the humor and events explored in Markus Goller’s 2010 film, Friendship! The story is simple: after the Berlin Wall falls in 1989, two best friends from youth decide to see what is beyond the wall and in the West. Veit, whose father apparently left for San Francisco when he was at a young age, decides they should go to there as well, emphatically adding “I want to see the Golden Gate Bridge.” Their problems of comedy start from there. They have no money, so instead of going directly to the West Coast, they must settle for a flight to New York. Without a grasp of the language, culture or money, they have to find a way to get to San Francisco.
This film showcases a view that many East Germans had right after the wall fell, that the West would be a place with no restrictions and no boundaries at all. Through comedy, Friendship! shows that it was not always true, and beginning with the friends’ first encounter in America with the immigration officer, they see that the West isn’t what they thought it was going to be. Even though there are more opportunities, such as the freedom to move across the country from one coast to another, they are still reminded that like in the East, there are certain restrictions.
by David Liu