SBS, Thursdays, 9.35pm
It’s easy to forget there was ever such a simple, happy, carefree time.
Cast your mind back to 1983 – Reagan in the White House, staring down the evil empire, all those atom bombs pointed every which-way … and a fair degree of confidence they might never be used.
Star Wars was a movie, then a defence plan which Ronnie never had to enact, as the USSR collapsed under its own weight.
We made it, didn’t we?
Islamo-fascists, planes as bombs, shoe-bombs, the eagle-eyed interweb, the Facebook drones and the real drones, all unthought-of. Phones sat on your desk instead of taking over your life.
So it’s nostalgic indeed to miss the certainty of a world balanced by the yin and yang of capitalism and communism, democracy and totalitarianism.
This is the world of Deutschland 83, set in – you guessed it – Germany in 1983 (in ze German with sub-titles, which just adds to the ambiance).
It’s the epicentre of a Cold War that might go hot at any moment, the American nuclear missiles glaring balefully at the massed Soviet armoured divisions waiting to plow through the Fulda Gap with a puff of diesel smoke and a song in their hearts.
The East Germans are convinced a hawklike America is poised to attack.
Enter a 24-year-old East German (played by Jonas Fay), forced into the West as an undercover spy for the East.
We see the West through his eyes: the groaning supermarket shelves, the decadent bourgeois consumerism.
Our hero takes the place of a murdered military aide and starts the search for intelligence. Early on, he is confronted by a secret 3.5-inch floppy disk … and wonders how to read it.
Add a funky ’80s soundtrack (99 Luft Balloons!) and the gang’s all here.
It’s a timely look at a timely time, and the East German perspective makes it all the more enjoyable.
Ah, it takes me back.
Like your school days, the ’80s didn’t seem so good at the time – but through rose-coloured glasses from 2017, it looks like paradise.
– Jason Beck