Airdate: Merkel

Despite her historic 16-year Chancellorship of Germany, the international public still knows very little about Angela Merkel.

Feature documentary Merkel, profiling former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, screens tomorrow night on SBS.

For years, Angela Merkel, the first woman Chancellor of Germany, was Western Europe’s most powerful leader. Nonetheless, she remains something of an enigma. Clear-eyed, cool-headed, diligent, and methodical, she put her politics first, setting ideology aside. A pastor’s daughter who grew up behind the iron curtain in the former DDR (East Germany), Merkel re-invented herself after the fall of the Berlin Wall to become “the world’s most powerful woman” (Forbes, 2020), often outsmarting and outstaying her male opponents. But despite her historic 16-year Chancellorship of Germany, the international public still knows very little about her.

Using vast archive materials and interviews with those who know her – friends, journalists, political allies, and critics – the film creates a rich portrait, from Merkel’s upbringing in communist East Germany, studies in quantum chemistry, her surprising start in politics and fast ascent. It reminds us how Merkel’s success came despite the double standards facing women leaders – the hard judgment and incessant scrutiny – and makes a case for politics marked by truth and integrity.

8:30pm Tuesday on SBS.

4 Responses

  1. I thought there was something perceptibly sexy about Angela Merkel who was once called the Queen of Europe, but it seems that in reality she had to be a fixer of Europe and all its failings and in the process provoked a north, south divide within the EU, which became prominent with the growing migrant crisis and later when the south of Europe felt it was neglected during COVID-19. The most memorable legacy for Angela was imposing austerity upon Greece to preserve the Eurozone and the Euro currency, then later Italy and Spain were also faced with austerity measures which they believed was being forced by Angela Merkel. but it was the COVID crisis that convinced Angela that richer countries like Germany should shoulder the debt of poorer EU countries, as Britain was to find out as it bore some of that cost as well. The SBS film ”Adults in the Room” is worth a look, regarding the Greek financial crisis and Germany.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation of that movie, I will take a look.

      But just to make a comment, this is why I find these types of documentaries fascination, whether they be about politicians or business people – they all face difficult choices in times of turmoil or high stakes. In my working experience, where the stakes were not so high, but conflicting nevertheless, there is rarely a perfect choice and often a choice that creates winners and looser. Documentaries, especially after a sufficient time lapse, can get behind the context, what was going on inside their heads and why they chose the decision they did made. Some of them are just cold and pragmatic, others are ideological and others are driven by their inner psychology. Land of the Giants: Titans of Tech is a good example of the latter.

  2. I will be interested to watch this. I am one who has watched her from afar, realising she is a powerful person, but I haven’t a clue what she actually stood for.

    I would also like to see a similar series on Macron, who on the little I know of him is a very complex character that doesn’t neatly fit into the left or right trope.

    It is a shame that political profiles tend to only focus on the english speaking people. They are still good, but the non-english speaking ones tend to offer a slightly different perspective that we don’t always see or hear about.

    1. I loved all the take offs Tracey Ullman did of Angela on “National Treasure” especially dressed as Angela singing I’m The Honey with the Money and 99 Red Balloons…there is an interview she does with Macron too…I still occasionally watch them on YouTube and have a laugh.

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