In the fifth episode of our film podcast, we talk about Christian Petzold’s modern-day holocaust drama Transit and how it refreshes the holocaust drama while exploring the bureaucratic trauma of being a refugee.
Episode 5: Christian Petzold’s Transit
In the fifth episode of our film podcast, we explore why setting a holocaust drama in modern day France is so effective, how the film relates to Petzold’s previous film, Phoenix, and why it’s such a thoughtful film. The film is adapted from Anna Seghers’ 1944 WWII-set novel, Transit Visa. In this update, we never see Nazi symbols, but the threat of the encroaching fascist occupation is ever-present; historically accurate references to concentration camps being set up at, e.g., the Velodrome in Paris signal that this is a topsy-turvy version of WWII.
The film follows a German man (Franz Rogowski) who is trying to flee the country after the Nazi invasion. He assumes the identity of a dead author whose papers he possesses. Stuck in Marseilles, he meets a young woman desperate to find her missing husband – the very man he’s impersonating.
Our two previous episodes of our film podcast also focus on films about or related to the holocaust. In our fourth episode, we discussed Luca Guadagnino’s 1977-set Suspiria remake, which looks at guilt and complicity in post-war Germany. In our third episode, we discussed Amma Asante’s Where Hands Touch, which tells the story of a Rhineland child — a black German who is the daughter of an Aryan mother and an African soldier from WWI — and her historically unique experience of the holocaust and the war.
For this discussion, Associate Editor Elena Lazic is joined by Associate Editor Orla Smith, Editor-in-Chief Alex Heeney, and Contributing Editor Brett Pardy.
To get the most out of this episode, we recommend listeners watch the film, as well as Petzold’s previous film, Phoenix, then read our essays on other films that address the holocaust: Barbet Schroeder’s Amnesia, Chantal Akerman’s No Home Movie, and Petzold’s Phoenix.
This episode was edited by Edward von Aderkas.