I couldn’t help but notice the many different faces of Lucie in these episodes. The most obvious one that really bothered me was when she was “sick with worry” when Maria came over. Lucie was dramatically moaning with her handkerchief draped over her face, and then enthusiastically stands up on her chair shouting her complaints, then immediately resumes moaning. It’s clear that she’s not actually sick, but she has likely achieved her goal of sympathy from Maria and even been invited to have dinner with the family. We see another form of Lucie when her old friend from Berlin, Martina, visits. Lucie now portrays herself and her new life in Hunsruck as very put together and successful. She flaunts her maid and villa, and seems to speak down to Martina as if she’s above their past, saying, “people don’t even think those thoughts here.” We could almost believe that Lucie’s efforts aren’t actually to convince Martina how thoroughly she’s enjoying her new life, but actually herself. Yet another side of Lucie is shown when she has the opportunity to host three important Nazi officers. Lucie plays the good German housewife role in preparation for their appearance. Lucie is probably the most transparent when she is with Eduard. All she can talk about with him is how to get him to advance within the Nazi party.
The different faces Lucie shows to specific people reveal how much Lucie’s life revolves around her public image. Lucie’s house is the perfect example of this. We learn from a shopkeeper’s conversation with Maria that their new house has superfluous rooms (for example the smoking room while neither of them smoke), lavish furnishings and fifty-two windows. On the outside, it would appear grandiose and make them look successful, but we know that it still hasn’t even been paid for.
Perhaps the most striking evidence of Lucie’s care for mere appearances is the scene after the party when she and Eduard place a piece of fool’s gold in the foundation of what will be their house. The foundation of their home is symbolic of the foundation of their life together, and she sees absolutely no problem filling it with fool’s gold. As we continue to see, false appearances are indeed the foundation of her entire life. We could even recall her first night with Eduard when the meatballs in her clothes house of prostitutes contrast the seemingly glamorous lifestyle they all portrayed.
Her indifference to the difference between appearances and reality is seen again after her failed lunch with the Nazi officials. Lucie is devastated that there are never any catastrophes in the Hunsruck. Even her plan to advance Eduard relies on a false display of heroism instead of suggesting any honest contributions he could make.
Lucie’s obsession with superficial appearances is especially interesting to me in light of what the rest of Germany is experiencing with the Nazi party. While it may be less evident in Schabbach, I would assume that parts of the rest of Germany are just as caught up in this. All driven by the obsession to advance in the Nazi party, people are in fierce competition to display more nationalism than another as seen through their clothing, activities and conversation. An example of this is Wilfried, who lies to his father about having a view of the capital from his apartment as the camera shows a dingy staircase.
I also don’t know what to make of the popular skull jewelry, or why exactly Maria is so troubled by it. What do you think this symbolizes? Or Hans’ new knack for shooting that seemed trivial until it a soldier told him that’s what he does to people who try to escape? Any other thoughts on the importance of appearances?
I agree with Caitlin in that Lucie’s obsession with appearance is indicative of the German people as a whole. Lucie is a prostitute turned housewife and she is completely consumed with being successful in her role as such. Lucie’s distress over her “failed” life and her empty house could be interpreted as her desire for her husband to do well for her children. After all, in the Middle Ages, familial honor and namesake governed all politics. In the age of Nazism in Germany, it seems as though this supposedly modern society has reverted to the feudal system in terms of progress through the party. I find it ironic that Lucie cares at all about this seeing as she was once a prostitute.
I also think that Maria and Lucie are foils for each other. Lucie even hints at this relationship by moaning “what sort of family have we married into?” Maria seems unfazed by her situation, despite that fact that her life is much harder than Lucie’s. Lucie constantly bemoans her awful life while Maria just soldiers on. If Lucie is representative of the Nazi fever possessing Germany in these episodes, what does Maria represent? Why have Lucie and Maria so juxtaposed? What is the director trying to say about Germany?
The death’s head was one of the symbols of the SS. I imagine the skull jewelry is another attempt by the Germans to be cool and imitate the Nazi Party. If so, then it makes sense that Maria is freaked out by them, if she is supposed to be the foil of Lucie and the people who would want that kind of jewelry. It could also be the simple reason that skull accessories tend to make most people uneasy, because they remind us of our mortality. They can also symbolize power, the skulls of one’s enemies, which might be the reason the SS used them. I don’t know; I still think it’s strange anyone would pick that as their symbol. The scary thing is they got millions of people to go along with it; no one in the mini-series except Kat has said, “Wait a minute, this seems a little weird…” And to me, watching this in contemporary times, it’s strange, almost agitating that no one has a hint of what’s to come.
Going along with what Caitlin said about Lucie and Edward’s villa, I found the metaphor of the fool’s gold particularly interesting. After Eduard has finished burying it into the foundation of their future house, he voices his concerns to Lucie, saying “We’re building our house on something we’re not sure is gold,” and Lucie replies, “At a quick glance, everything’s gold – that has been my experience in life.” I found this metaphor interesting because it seems like the fool’s gold can be representative of Lucie and Edward’s relationship. Lucie and Eduard built their relationship on passionate, impulsive love, and now they seem to be struggling in their marriage – Lucie longing for a higher class lifestyle that Eduard can’t give her, and Eduard completely content with their socioeconomic status. Although Lucie (who thinks that everything can appear gold on the outside) may try to make their relationship seem perfect to the outside world, there are also some internal struggles, resulting from the fact that the couple built their marriage on something that seemed to be “gold” but may not have been completely genuine.
In addition to this, the metaphor may also be applied to the entire country of Germany. When Hitler and the Nazis first took power, they seemed to have the “golden” qualities of leadership that would solve all of Germany’s problems, so they gained a vast following even though these followers did not know for sure that their ruler was actually “golden.” As we all know from history, Nazi rule was definitely not what it at first appeared to be, as it was actually built on discrimination, threats, and violence (although Heimat has not placed much emphasis on this so far). This lack of strong foundation caused many more problems, eventually leading to Germany’s loss in World War II as well as the death of millions of people. This may be a bit of a stretch, but I thought it was an interesting comparison.
In response to Clare’s last question, I think Lucie and Maria are sort of supposed to represent opposing reactions to the changing times in Germany. It’s fairly obvious that Lucie is more than pleased with the direction of the country (even if not with her personal life) and is after power (through Eduard’s career), as are the Nazis, building highways and appointing officials in the once-isolated Hunsrück. She is the kind of person who likes the way Germany is headed.
On the other hand, Maria seems to be more of a traditional rural German wary of the direction of the country. She is reluctant for her sons to be part of the Hitler Youth and doesn’t seem super excited about her brother being in the SS. She is far more invested in her domestic life than Lucie, and very interested in the welfare of Anton and Ernst. As opposed to the Nazi-sympathizing, modernity-embracing Lucie, Maria seems to be much more of a traditional German interested in her family above all else.
While I agree that Lucie and Maria represent conflicting views of Germany, in particular the side of emerging Nazism against the reliability of traditional living, I wonder what it means that Maria has fallen in with the company of a Nazi officer of sorts, this man Herr Wohlleben. Not only is he a member of the Nazi party, he is also involved in the construction of the highway, the very height of innovation brought by the new governing system. If Maria has become infatuated with Wohlleben, has she not accepted much of what is changing in Germany, so much so that she herself has changed? I do not propose that Maria is an allegory for all of traditional Germany, but I do think that her transition from her life with Paul, gone these last ten years, to a potentially new life with Wohlleben explains how people eventually embraced Nazism as a way to move on from a difficult past. Even without much consideration for the consequences of such a fervent movement, borderline Germans like Maria seemed to convert in a sense when the possibility of a better life presented itself. Yet Maria has taken an entire decade to advance from her past life, while Lucie has turned on a dime from brothel mistress to country housewife. Either way, both have grown closer to accepting the prevailing Nazism of 1930s Germany. Whether hesitantly or immediately, the two “foil” characters have been absorbed into the German mainstream seemingly for the same purpose. As Maria confides to Pauline, “I’ve never really lived at all yet,” and likewise Lucie supports Nazism so that she and Eduard might advance up the social ladder.
Going along with what Megan said about the seemingly “golden” qualities of the Nazi party that ultimately proved not-so-golden, I think it is important to point out Eduard’s foreshadowing of this when he expresses his views on the state of Germany to Lucie and Martina: “This is the precise moment that time ought to stand still. Everything ought to remain just so… And we shouldn’t want any more at all.” This directly contrasts Lucie’s constant need for more: more power, more wealth, more fame. She never seems to be satisfied, while Eduard, coming from simple roots, seems to feel uncomfortable with the extravagance of their lifestyle. He recognizes the fact that he is completely content with where he is in his life. It is almost ironic that the two of them are married, considering how different their goals are. Eduard just wants to find passion in his photography, while Lucie only wants to gain more and more power. Eduard expresses his dissatisfaction with the state of their marriage, saying “those were marvelous times in Berlin with you… I thought I could bring a bit of that into my home… for ever.” He is beginning to realize that perhaps Lucie was only using him as a way out of her somewhat disgraceful prostitution business, despite the fact that she consistently refers to herself as better than Eduard. He finally seems to become aware of Lucie’s superficiality in this episode, and realizes that this is not the life he wants to live. Also, I think it is interesting that amidst the somewhat awkward silence that occurs while Eduard is expressing these things to the ladies, Martina says “An angel flew by.” What do you think this symbolizes? A saving grace, or perhaps more likely the fleeting-ness of this opulence and prosperity?
What struck me the most about Lucie’s many different faces in this episode was how she seemed to be infatuated with Wilfried. It’s clear that Lucie wants a position of power and prestige in life. However, she originally tried to achieve this by marrying Eduard and manipulating him to join the Nazi party. I would have to disagree with Clare that Lucie is consumed by the desire to be a good housewife and provide the best for her children. Rather, I think that she played the role of a housewife so long as she thought that was her best chance at getting rich and respected. Once she saw that Wilfried was better off than Eduard, she immediately tried to get Eduard to leave the conversation and insisted on giving Wilfried a private tour of the house. In addition to that, the compliments she offers Wilfried and the looks she gives him see too suggestive; it seems that her past self as a mistress at the hostel can’t be escaped. Maybe this face is in fact Lucie’s most real one. However, as Caitlin pointed out, Lucie tries to hide (or even reject) this part of her when Martina comes to visit. There are a few reasons she might do this. One, she may not want Martina to see how easy it is to manipulate men and gain wealth. If Martina did see this, she could be potential competition to Lucie. Another reason may be that Lucie herself may not realize how her behavior towards Wilfried reflects her past self. In her head, she may have convinced herself that as a married woman, she is classy in all respects despite her suggestive actions. Either way, it is clear through all of Lucie’s faces that she is after wealth and prestige, and will go to any extent to achieve it. Similarly, this reflects how the Nazis at that time wanted to restore Germany’s reputation, despite the costs of the Holocaust.