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I WANT TO LIVE

Director: Jörg A.EGGERS
Camera: Walter KINDLER
Author: Jörg A.EGGERS
Cast: Kathina KAISER, Heinz BENNENT, Sonja SUTTER, Alwy BECKER, Klaus BARNER, Signe SEIDEL, Robert WERNER, Georg LHOTSKY, Gottfried KUMPF, Michael JANISCH, Josef FRÖHLICH, Klaus GUTH, Claudia BUTENUTH, Elisabeth EPP, Gertrud ROLL, Hans KRAEMER, S. WIESNAGROTZKI
Crew: Musik: Hans HAMMERSCHMIDT, Schnitt: Wolfgang SCHACHT/Daniela PADALEWSKI, Architekt: Rudolf SCHNEIDER-MANNS AU, Herstellungsleitung: Günther KÖPF
Year: 1976
drama (98 min.)

Wolfgang is a doctor, Antonia an actress and their son Niki is 10 years of age. The family was happy until something happened that could happen to every one of us. In a car accident Niki suffered bad injuries to his head - brain damage. As a neurologist Wolfgang was well aware of the consequences. Antonia responded with the instincts of a mother. When Niki returned home from hospital – disabled, mute and simply helpless – the actual problems surfaced. Niki was dependent on full time nursing and his eyes were his only means of communication. The family’s social environment had no sense for the sudden helplessness. Crossing the street for example, was suddenly a problem.
Despite the confrontation with an environment that showed no understanding and certainly no support, Antonia tried everything to give Niki a chance. So every newly acquired ability, such as opening a button was celebrated. Every step forward in the development of the child was like a little miracle.
Due to the regular confrontation with illness as a doctor, Wolfgang could not stand facing the same problems at home. The situation became burdensome to the relationship as Antonia started taking Niki to bed with her.
Whilst Antonia learnt to live with her environment’s rejection of her disabled son, Wolfgang tried to escape. When Antonia refused to abandon Niki to a home for disabled children, she was forced to learn to live in a world full of prejudice.

In this film J.A. Eggers deals with all those social issues, which were also subject of his documentaries. Encouraged by the positive public response to his documentary film about disabled children “We have to do all that is possible...” the director and author decided to tackle this problem once more.

That this story is a realistic one was proven by a case in Southern Germany. Here too the father of the child was a doctor, who was unable to bear the burden. Research on similar cases has shown that doctors respond to such a situation with less tolerance. It is ignorant to believe that “something like that” only happens to particular people such as social, economic or religious outsiders.

More than in his documentaries the director refrained from illustrating the miseries of the daily life of disabled children. He purposely did not confront us with pictures that would be too shocking. With a lot of sense of responsibility for this issue and for his audience he spared us from sensationalism.
His aim was to build a bridge and to foster an understanding for the weak and the weakest in our society. If we do not care for the weakest – the disabled – we subsequently will not care for the weak – the minorities, the elderly, and the children. What will this lead to in the end?

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