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American Women's Club of Hamburg

The Ludolfs (Die Ludolfs Der Film)

Starts April 9

This German documentary features four Ludolf brothers: Peter, Manni, Uwe, and Günter, age 53, 46, 57, and 54. For 30 years they have run the family automobile junk yard, which was established by their parents. Work is strictly divided. Günter mans the phone, Peter knows exactly where to find any requested car part, and Uwe and Manni pick up broken down cars and strip them for all valuable parts. Peter and Manni still live in the family home in the middle of the junk yard. Peter cooks lunch for the four of them. They revere and respect their long dead parents, enjoy each other’s company and have an almost child-like curiosity about their world. You would give all of them a big hug if they weren’t so grubby from handling old car parts.

The Ludolfs started as a documentary soap opera on television in 2006 and became popular very quickly so that a film was the next logical step. To fill 97 minutes a kind of plot was added in that the Ludolfs leave the family junk yard to realize their parents’ unfilled dream: a trip to Italy to sit on the beach.

I enjoyed being a part of their lives for a short time. I still wonder how they manage to support themselves financially, as selling a used hub cap or exhaust pipe occasionally doesn’t seem very profitable.  The film mentions that their father had a theatrical interest and I could well imagine the whole family as a very successful travelling circus under different circumstances. The film gives the impression that the four brothers are a small isolated world but actually there are relatives (spouse, child, sister) and probably many friends and neighbors in their town of Dernbach, a village with 1120 people in Westerwald between Frankfurt and Cologne. This is especially recommended for anyone who understands German, who is interested in real people or who liked the television series.

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