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Film / The Nasty Girl

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The Nasty Girl (Das schreckliche Mädchen) is a 1990 film from Germany directed by Michael Verhoeven (no relation to Paul).

Sonya (Lena Stolze) is a very bright student in the little German village of Pfilzing, in the heart of Bavaria. She is given an essay topic for a competition: "My Hometown in the Third Reich". She starts to do research for her paper but finds the people of Pfilzing strangely unwilling to talk about events 30-40 years in the past (the main story is set in the 1970s and 1980s). No one wants to talk about Father Schulte, who opposed the Nazi racial laws and was executed, or about Mayor Zumbotel, the Nazi Party functionary who was mayor of the town in those days.

Sonya gets married to Martin, her old high school science teacher, and has a couple of kids. But she feels compelled to return to her old research. Much to her surprise, she finds out that Pfilzing was a pretty thoroughly Nazified little town. The various bits of info she discovers—the old pharmacist did experiments on human beings, two highly regarded priests denounced a Jew and got him arrested, there was a concentration camp right outside of town—make her extremely unpopular. She becomes a social outcast, denounced and reviled by the people of Pfilzing, who don't like to be reminded of how they helped the Hitler regime.

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Based on the true story of writer Anna Rosmus and the town of Passau.


Tropes:

  • Based on a True Story: The life of Anna Rosmus and the village of Passau, with the names changed, presumably to allow for more fictionalization. But most of what happens to Sonya really did happen to Anna Rosmus—her husband left her in Real Life, she really did win a contest with an essay when she was a schoolgirl, she really did face intense harassment in her hometown. (In fact, hatred of her in the town led Rosmus to emigrate to the United States in 1994.)
  • Double Entendre: All the girls in Sonya's class are giggling at the sight of Martin the handsome new science teacher. But when he tries to start a lecture on static electricity by saying "what happens when two bodies rub against each other?", the class dissolves in gales of laughter.
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  • Fanservice: An entirely random, gratuitous shot of Sonya swimming nude in a pool.
  • Happy Flashback: When Martin leaves Sonya, there's a brief flashback to their honeymoon.
  • Monochrome Past: All the scenes in the early part of the movie that show Sonya's early childhood and school days, before the main story about her research gets going.
  • Moral Guardians: An absurd example when Sonya's mother is forced to quit her job at the Catholic school because she's pregnant. Even though she's married.
  • No Fourth Wall: Sonya talks at the camera throughout the movie. Other participants in the drama often talk to the camera as well in documentary-style interviews.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The archivist, who shows real genius in coming up with excuses to bar Anna from seeing the town archives on Zumbotel. The files are in too fragile a condition, the privacy statute hasn't expired yet, the files have been loaned out...
  • Scales of Justice: When Sonya has to appear in court to defend herself against a libel suit, there is an actualy woman dressed as Justice holding scales behind the judge. She has dozed off but wakes up and holds her scales as the judge delivers a pro-Sonya ruling.
  • Surrealism: Many of the indoor scenes are shot against odd, obviously fake backgrounds. A shot of Sonya doing research in the library consists of her at a table on a bare stage, with a photo of a library hanging behind her. Another odd motif has family conferences taking place in the living room, except that somehow the living room has been transported to the back of a truck that is driving around town, with townspeople watching as Sonya checks her messages. There's also a living statue of Justice in the courtroom (see Scales of Justice above).
  • Title Drop: One of the insults hurled at Sonya is that she's a "nasty girl".
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Not lurid like this trope usually plays out, no Satanic rituals or anything. But still, the town has dark secrets about its Nazi past. A restaurant used to belong to a Jew before he was deprived of his property. A friendly old man served on a Nazi Kangaroo Court. Sonya is disappointed to discover that her professor Dr. Junkenack, who has a reputation as being a resistance fighter, was actually an enthusiastic Nazi who denounced Jews.
  • Wedding Day: Sonya's wedding to Martin is somewhat spoiled when somebody throws a brick through the back window of their car.
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