By Pepe Donquart, Germany, 1993, 9 minutes 59 seconds
Won the 1993 Academy Award for Live Action Short Film
Source: You Tube
A fact you should know before watching the short, schwarzfahrer in German means literally “fare-dodger”, but also means “black rider”.
This subtlety in the German language comes into play at the end of the film. Schwarzfahrer is about a black man, or schwarzfahrer, who sits down next to an old woman on the tram. The old woman turns out to be a raging bigot who especially dislikes black people and immigrants. She says that black people are lazy, they smell, and are carriers for AIDS. She goes on like this for quite a sometime, all the while the black man ignores her, looks out the window, and eats his snack.
When the time comes for the tram controller to check everyone’s tickets, both the black man and old woman produce theirs. The black man grabs the old woman’s ticket and pops it into his mouth. He chews nonchalantly and then swallows it. The old woman is left with a dumbfounded look on her face, and when the tram controller asks for her ticket she says that the man ate it. The tram controlled swiftly kicks her off of the tram because she is now a schwarzfahrer as well.
I really enjoyed this short film because of the unexpected actions of the black man. I would have expected him to engage the old woman in a verbal debate, or to just ignore her. I did not expect him to eat her ticket, which turns out to be the most effective method to getting rid of her.
Some of the comments after the video on you tube were arguing about the moral of the story. The two conflicts (both in the film and about the film) are basically the same situation. In the film the black man chooses not to engage the woman in an argument but instead eats her ticket so she is thrown off the tram, and solving his problem. The people commenting on the film don’t seem to understand this. These people choose to argue with each other and call each other names, instead of taking a page out of the black man’s book of dealing with difficult people. Though it would be kind of hard to swallow someone’s computer and/or Internet connection. After watching this film I no longer see the point in arguing with someone so set in their ways that they will never change their minds. Save your breath and take action instead.
It would have been pointless and ineffectual for the black man to verbally defend himself against the old woman, just like it is ineffective to call people names across the Internet. Action needs to be taken, but as I said earlier, in the latter case it would be hard.