Imagine your young child being involved with the death of a playmate. An innocent game that went awry. That is what UNDER THE ICE (Unter dem eis) touches upon.<br>A solemn study into how covering up truths can lead to more damage. Especially when the people involved are essentially good.
The film begins with a young couple, Michael and Jenny (Dirk Borchardt and Bibiana Beglu) living in one the suburbs of Berlin, Germany. Things are looking up and Michael is on the eve of getting a promotion to become a detective. They have good friends and a 7- year old son, Tim (Adrian Wahlen) who eerily resembles the Danny Lloyd Character from Kubrick’s Film “The Shining”
Trouble begins when Michael comes home with a folder containing photos of a girl murdered by a serial killer who suffocated her by placing a bag over her head. Tim views this and asks his father about them. His well meaning parents say she is merely playing a “sleeping game”.
I know from my own experiences as a child that imagination always sets in when events are sugar coated or simply not explained. In this case it seems to trigger a morbid curiosity, which leads to Tim reenacting the game with the same results on fellow playmate, Luzi (Nicole Mercedes Muller). Leading to her death.
Jenny decides to protect Tim by covering it up. She states that Michael ‘s “Serial Killer” had done it. He is put to the case as Detective now, since he received his promotion, sadly on the same night of the incident.
The rest of the film deals with the weight of the truth and bond between mother and son and how it eats through both of them and Thomas Stiller’s Screenplay portrays this degradation quite well. Aelrun Goette’s direction balances this with getting the right amount of intensity from her actors. By the end of the film this weight becomes crushing. The minimalist soundtrack by Martin Todsharow’s and Heidrun Reshoft’s cold and impersonal production design support the film as well.
At the AFI FEST 2006 screening one reporter asked how did director Goette deal with explaining to young actor Adrian Wahlen on the subject matter of certain scenes. She said that an on set Psychologist was at hand and her own maternal instincts came through. I have lived in Berlin for some years I noticed the children to more mature than those in the states. This is due to the education system, social environment and the less censored television.
Under the Ice deals with families being broken up by parents long hours at work, financial debts, children being spoiled, overprotection, misinformed innocence and the silent passages that reign through most households in our impersonal society.
An Eikon Media production in co-production with SWR and RBB. (International sales: Highpoint Films, London.) Produced by Milena Maitz, Ernst Ludwig Ganzert. Directed by Aelrun Goette CQ. Screenplay, Thomas Stiller, based on an idea by Holger Badura.
With: Bibiana Beglau, Sandra Borgmann, Dirk Borchardt, Adrian Wahlen, Nicole Mercedes Muller, Barbara Focke, Thorsten Merten, Susanne Lothar.