Once upon a time there was a village

Three short sequences mark the beginning of “Mittagsstunden”, three snapshots from the passage of time. They are set in different decades in Brinkebüll, the fictional village somewhere near Husum, which is a main character in this film . First you see Sönke Feddersen’s inn in 1965, a young woman runs out and away into the wheat field, where she smokes a cigarette and looks at the clouds, a great idyll.

It continues in 1976, the woman’s name is Marret Feddersen, as we now learn, she fears the end of the world. That will also come for her this year, but everyday life is still the order of the day – Marret is standing in front of the grocery store, which is quite crowded. Marret’s mind, you can see that this time, is a bit lost, people say she’s “twisted”, but nobody cares. The village is in solidarity.

The last sequence takes place in 2012, Sönke Feddersen is old, his wife Ella has dementia, the village is a no man’s land. The streets are straight, the shops are gone, no people anywhere, as it seems in many places today. So the structural and social changes that have brought about the last fifty years are passing by, and they aren’t pretty. The film continues to loosely weave these three timelines, assembling an image of loss that fills it with melancholy for long stretches.

There is another member of the Feddersen family, Ginger. In 1976 he was ten years old, meanwhile he has long been a lecturer at the university in Kiel. Ginger takes two semesters off and returns to “the old ones” in Brinkebüll, to the amazement of his friends in Kiel. But he wants to take care of it now while they’re still alive, even if they don’t expect anything from him.

Writer Dörte Hansen guides you through her novel “Mittagsstunden” with ginger, and director Lars Jessen now also guides you through the film with ginger. And through the tricky story of the Feddersens, which is a small psychodrama in itself, alongside the larger dramas such as land consolidation and rural exodus, alongside the inexorable passage of time.

If she is allowed to sing, she is not “twisted”: Marret Feddersen (Gro Swantje Kohlhof).

(Photo: Christine Schroeder/Majestic)

Jessen shows a lot of everyday life, starting with the hustle and bustle in the inn, where all the Feddersens help, to the mysterious disappearance of Marret – only two footprints are left of her in the tar of the driveway, as if she had taken to the air and like the birds flew away. He combines that with the present, in which ginger tries to bring some luxury into the lives of the elderly and fails, or rocks at the line dance club to boost the mood. What Jessen tells is rather unspectacular, it is spectacular how he links the personal to the observation of social conditions.

In addition, there are figures for which he does not subject himself to the nonsense of drawing “weird” people from the country, but lets them be as sad, idle, and bad-tempered as everyone else. They rarely become sentimental, sometimes he grants them a surprising friendliness. Through these characters, through their gentle behavior towards one another, Jessen’s film gives cause for hope. Although he severely shows the damage that villages, society and nature have suffered in the past fifty years.

Midday Hour , D 2021 – Director: Lars Jessen. Screenplay: Catharina Junk based on the novel by Dörte Hansen. With Charly Hübner, Peter Franke, Gro Swantje Kohlhof, Hildegard Schmahl. 96 minutes. Majestic Film Distribution. Film release: September 22, 2022.

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