Forest For The Trees

Being home sick with strep throat or tonsillitis or whatever I have, I am watching movies on demand, and I ended up with this one. It's a German movie from this past decade. It's about a young woman teacher in her first year on the job.

Teaching is a hard job, especially if you haven't developed the ability to control the behavior of children. The woman in this movie is a mush. She never stands up for herself. It's like she's begging everyone to like her. That's a very annoying trait to most people. By chasing your "friends" too hard and trying too hard to please, you push them away because it wears on someone's patience to be around that for long. By trying to make all the students in school like you, you just make them disrespect you, because if you lack leadership why are they cooped up with you all day? They would rather be playing.

The movie begins with this teacher, Miss Proschle, breaking up with her boyfriend, leaving her home, and going to the German town where she got a teaching position in mid-term. I don't know why the opening occurred in the middle of the term, perhaps because the students of that class killed their last teacher.

She introduces herself to the faculty by saying she hopes to bring a breath of fresh air to the school. What a dumb thing to say. Here you are, a first year teacher, not knowing a thing about maintaining order in a classroom, having the stupidity to think you have something to teach the pros.

Her class is a disaster, though not as big a disaster as if she worked in Brooklyn, NY. The kids in Brooklyn would destroy her much more. But Germany is bad enough. The kids mess with her. One kid hits her in the back with a chocolate milk. In Brooklyn it would have been a more serious incident.

She has no friends. She thinks she has a friend, a boutique owner named Tina. But her people-pleasing mush of a personality soon gets on Tina's nerves. So it becomes a chore to Tina to have to relate to her.

Tina invites Proschle to Tina's birthday party, and at the party she says that she hopes that her ex boyfriend doesn't show up. Proschle takes that at face value. Proschle goes outside, sees Tina's boyfriend hanging around trying to figure out if he should go to the party, and Proschle tells him it's not a good idea today. The boy gives Proschle some flowers or something, a present for Tina. Tina is furious when she hears that Proschle told her ex boyfriend not to come up to the party. That ends their friendship. There never was a friendship. That's the last straw. No reason to put up with this annoying mush anymore. She throws Proschle out of the house.

So she has no friends, her job is horrible, and the movie ends with Proschle driving in her car, then crawling into the back seat and looking out the window. I suppose the car is on cruise control, but I don't think any car company has come up with steering control yet, so the literal answer is that she's committing suicide. The symbolic answer is that she realizes she is incapable of steering her life in any way that makes any kind of sense so she goes to the back seat where the children sit, and she just abdicates her adulthood and looks out the window.

A bit like the song Jesus Take The Wheel, except that we don't see Jesus taking the wheel, Proschle hasn't been sinning at all, she's just a mush.

It's a strange and memorable movie. A lot of people who see the movie decide that they hate Proschle. I don't. A lot of people are just so annoyed at this mush that they can't stand her and wish she'd go crash herself into a pole. To me, I don't react that way. My reaction to her is that she has an annoying personality, she is in the wrong profession because you need leadership qualities to be a teacher, and in a few years she will have a few friends and be happier, so she may as well stick around and grow up. She's not all that bad. She's just a mush.

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littleolme said over 3 years ago ...

hope you are feeling better! just running by and reading tonight and saying HI! ...sounds like a good movie.... take care of yourself.~see ya

skald said over 3 years ago ...

Yes, she certainly is in the wrong job. I once had a teacher like that when I was 10. I felt bad in her class. The boys were on the desks and over all. Maybe some girls too. She could not control the kids and kids are quick to realize things like that. Well this girl could not control her life so how was she to control anything else. I feel sorry for her. I have also known a woman who follows you around just so that you will agree with her and like her. As you say that is annoying.

d6fer said over 3 years ago ...

see....this is why I stay away from the foreign films....if I had to sit through that, I'd crawl into the back seat and crash my car into a pole too!

hegemone said over 3 years ago ...

That sounds like quite an interesting movie now that you've mentioned it. Indeed it's a constant struggle in each person's social life not to be too much of a pushover, such that it's work for friends to be friends, but also not to be a control freak such that people want to avoid you. Then there's the way people fit together like puzzle pieces ... the control freaks tend to like the pushovers simply because they can control them, and the pushovers don't mind. It's a messed up dynamic, that's for sure.

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