When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.

Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

It can be hard to distinguish among the men wearing grey suits and regulation haircuts on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. But David Margolis always brought a splash of color.

It wasn't his lovably disheveled wardrobe, or his Elvis ring, but something else: the force of his flamboyant personality. Margolis, a graduate of Harvard Law School, didn't want to fit in with the crowd. He wanted to stand out.

Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.

Pages

In 'Barbara,' A New Look At Life Behind The Wall

Jan 11, 2013
Originally published on January 14, 2013 5:21 pm

The historical drama is a staple of the film awards season, and the tortured history of modern Germany — with its echoes of the brutal Third Reich and war — has played a central role in many an award-winning film. But the new film Barbara, which was Germany's official entry to this year's Oscars, is a nuanced portrait of the more recent history of a newly reunited East and West.

Its title character is a woman torn between her lover in the West and her life as a doctor in communist East Germany in the early 1980s. As the film opens, Barbara has been punished for her attempts to flee across the border and is banished to a rural village in Brandenburg. She's under the constant surveillance of the Stasi's intelligence agents, and underneath her cool exterior she's gradually coming undone.

Barbara opened at the 2012 Berlin Film Festival and became a critical success in Germany and across Europe last year. Star Nina Hoss says the film's success lies in its attempts to revisit the painful history of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) with respect and nuance. Its moral ambiguity and ordinariness is a reflection of the everyday lives of those who lived behind the Berlin Wall, but it's also a chance to show that cruelty and repression could also be very subtle.

"If you talk to the people who lived in the GDR, they always tell you, 'I mean we loved, we had kids, the grass was green and I had a wonderful childhood.' " Hoss says. "So I thought it was very important for Barbara to be able to show it's hard to leave your home behind, however cruel the system is you live in."

Barbara is one of a series of new German films that have taken up the ghosts of a once-divided country. Its intimacy, gracefulness and vibrancy is a reflection of director Christian Petzold's effort to get beyond the stark, gray portrayals of socialism in films like the Oscar-winning The Lives of Others.

Petzold notes that the Agfa film company developed color film in part of what became East Germany.

"The German Democratic Republic has pictures of itself, always very, very colorful. It's like a Jerry Lewis movie in the '50s ... fantastic red, fantastic blue," Petzold says. "But we in the West, we make pictures of them like our imagination of socialism — gray, dirty light."

For both the filmmaker and for Hoss, Barbara is also a chance to work through personal history. Christian Petzold was born in East Germany and came to the West as a refugee. He remembers growing up in a camp for displaced persons and says the memories of those times were with him as he began to write the film. Hoss is from Stuttgart, in the West, and she still remembers the day the Wall came down when she was 14.

"I had a horror vision of the other part of Germany," Hoss says. But after 1989, the actress wanted to live in the former East and now lives in the reunified capital of Berlin.

Laurence Kardish, former film curator at the Museum of Modern Art, says German filmmakers and artists who call the city home can't escape the past.

"There are so many issues," he says. "It's such a turbulent history that contemporary filmmakers have to and do often refer to the events of the past."

Barbara was filmed on location in the former East and at a hospital that operated under the GDR. Hoss says she spoke at length with locals, who were grateful that Westerners came and tried to get it right.

"They were and they are still very happy that they live in a democracy now, but ... nobody asked questions of how they lived," Hoss says. "The West kind of got there and said, 'Now you can be happy.' ... I mean it's 40 years of their lives. ... They can't be in vain. And no one asked."

By getting beyond those gray stereotypes, Barbara is emblematic of a new generation of German films that are asking questions about their country's past to better understand its future.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

The movie award season is upon us and historical dramas are once again front and center. One of the films now in theaters comes from Germany, a country with a long tortured history that's inspired many movies. The new film is called "Barbara." And as NPR's Bilal Qureshi reports, it explores questions that a lot of German filmmakers are asking today.

BILAL QURESHI, BYLINE: World War II epics and Holocaust memoirs have become standard fare in the award season. But today's generation of German directors is working through the more recent history of East and West. For director Christian Petzold, it's also a personal history.

CHRISTIAN PETZOLD: My parents, they're refugees, from the German Democratic Republic, my first two years in the West, I'm living in a camp for displaced person.

QURESHI: Petzold says he still remembers going to visit his family while the country was divided.

PETZOLD: They're talking the same language than me, the cousins and all the people around me, I can talk to them, but they are totally different at the same moment. And for me, it was a very mysterious time. And so I start o remember this time when I start to make this movie.

QURESHI: The star of Petzold's movie is Nina Hoss. She was born in the West and was 14 when the wall came down in 1989.

NINA HOSS: When my parents said, why don't we go and have a look at this country, I always said, no, no, no. Why, why? Maybe they won't let me out again or - so I had this horror vision of the other part of Germany in my mind. But that, of course, changed. Once the wall came down, I went to East Berlin to study acting and in East Berlin school and I wanted to live in the east part of Berlin.

QURESHI: The new film "Barbara" is about a woman who wants to get out of East Germany. And for that, she's punished. She's a talented doctor who's banished to work in a rural village under constant surveillance. She's angry and on edge. This is different from the menacing oppression of the Stasi shown in the Oscar-winning "The Lives of Others."

The handlers and watchers in "Barbara" are equally vulnerable, human. And Nina Hoss says it was important to show both the ambiguity and the ordinariness of life in the former German Democratic Republic.

HOSS: If you talk to the people who lived in the GDR, they always tell you, we loved, we had kids, the grass was green, I had a wonderful childhood. So I thought it was very important for "Barbara" also to be able to show that it's hard to leave your home behind, however cruel the system is you live in.

QURESHI: However cruel, director Christian Petzold points out there were also accomplishments like those of the Agfa film company.

PETZOLD: Technicolor techniques, they were invented in the part of East Germany near Beterfeld and the German Democratic Republic has pictures of itself always very, very colorful. It's like a Jerry Lewis movie in the '50s, very fantastic red, fantastic blue. But we in the West, we make pictures of them like our imagination of socialism - gray, dirty light.

QURESHI: "Barbara" is trying to address the stereotype without glossing over the reality of that period. It's one of a series of new German films that have taken up the ghosts of a once divided country. Laurence Kardish is the former film curator at the Museum of Modern Art. He presented an annual survey of German cinema at MoMA and he says the country's filmmakers can't escape their past.

LAURENCE KARDISH: There are so many issues. It is such a turbulent history that contemporary filmmakers have to and do often refer to the events of the past hundred years, 150 years.

QURESHI: "Barbara" premiered at the Berlin Film Festival last year and both Nina Hoss and Christian Petzold live in the new German capital. It's a city that symbolizes German division and reunification. And Nina Hoss says for the artists who've made their homes there, the time to tell stories like "Barbara" is now.

HOSS: If we would have done this movie 10 years ago, it would've been very difficult to get the acceptance from the Eastern part because it was sure that if you come from the West, you can't tell our story because you didn't know anything about it. And I think Westerners also didn't even try to do it. Now, I think, by having a distance, the distance is actually quite helpful.

QURESHI: "Barbara" was filmed on location in a small town and hospital in the former East. Nina Hoss says she spoke at length with the locals and says they were grateful that Westerners came and tried to get it right.

HOSS: They were and they are still very happy that they live in a democracy now. But the way it went and that no one actually asked questions of how they lived, the West kind of got there and said, well, now you can be happy. You must be happy now. And what happened and what you went through or how beautiful it was, also, I mean, it's 40 years of their life. They can't be in vain, you know. And no one asked and that was very hurtful, I think.

QURESHI: And by getting beyond the gray stereotypes, "Barbara" is emblematic of a new generation of German films and how they're asking about their country's past to better understand its future. Bilal Qureshi, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.