Thursday, May 20, 2010

Two Wonders

Back in 1960, thus just before we returned to the United States from Germany as a family, Brigitte and I saw a television series entitled Am Grünen Strand der Spree. It was in five parts, in black and white; it was almost exclusively a conversation around a table. On the Green Strand of the Spree. The Spree begins in Czechoslovakia, runs north and west, through Berlin, joins the Havel, a river that eventually feeds the Elbe. A panoramic view of it in Berlin is available here. To watch this series was a wonder. There is no action, no color, no special effects—yet Brigitte and I think now, and have felt ever since we saw it, that it was the best TV series we’d ever, ever seen.

The series popped into Brigitte’s mind yesterday, and we went to see what traces of that series might remain. First, we found that we were not alone. Fifty years hence voluminous comments on the web echo everything we felt and feel about this magical series. Next we discovered that it is available! Yes, today. In a five-disk presentation on CD. From, the German Amazon. Amazing. Somewhat intimidated, I set about to see if I could order it from way over there somewhere. Fifteen minutes later, I had e-mail confirmation that my Visa card spoke Euro well enough, and that UPS could transport across the ocean rapidly—the package is supposed to arrive tomorrow already! That is Wonder Number One.

Wonder Number Two is more difficult to put in words. Here is an artistic creation that has never been rendered into English. It is enfolded in sounds that you must be able to understand before its very complex meaning can reach the chest. And that produces a certain sadness. We can recapture the experience five decades later—but we cannot effectively share it. Life presents many such experiences when we ponder the matter. Sometimes veils are present through which it is impossible to see…


  1. Hey! This is the modern day guys! There will probably be subtitles available in English on your DVD although, perhaps not. I just hope you will be able to run it better than you have been able to run French DVDs on your TV. It's a question of regionalisation of the DVD. If it doesn't run right away, get someone tohelp you please! Ah, yes, the greatest wonder of the global market is in my opinion the global LIBRARY with to your doorstep delivery! How glorious, indeed!

  2. This makes me think I should go out, onto the web, and see if I can find a copy of a play I once saw performed on TV. Do you remember it, "The Ascent of Mount Fuji"?

    I look forward to hearing how you found rewatching "On the Green Strand of the Spree."

  3. Michelle: Sorry. No subtitles in any language.

    Monique: Your sense is acute. Spree is on the same level as Mount Fuji -- one reason why the latter is not available on a CD so far as we've been able to determine. That show had less "drama" than Spree, which, in its episodes is as many independet films with action and events and drama.


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