Pool of Princesses

Prinzessinnenbad, directed by Bettina Blümner, 2007

The title of this documentary film (literally ‘Pool of Princesses’) is a play on words derived from one of the film’s main locations: the Prinzenbad public pool in Kreuzberg, Berlin. The ‘princesses’ in question are three 15-year-old girls whose interconnected lives are the main focus of Bettina Blumner’s film. The film opens at the pool, where Klara, Tanutscha and Mina like to hang out, joke around, and share their experiences. Right from the start, a perceptibly aggressive undertone, particularly towards boys and young men beyond the frame of the camera, establishes that these girls are not modernday princesses but rather hardened teenagers growing up in multicultural, inner-city Berlin. The lifeguard’s public announcement, warning visitors that a severe storm is nearing, acts as a powerful metaphor for the girls’ troubled lives, which will be told through first-person narratives captured by Blümner’s omnipresent camera. To differing degrees, the girls have been affected by fragmented families, the absence of role models, and a pervasive disenchantment with the future. In contrast to the dangers of the city as told through the film (deranged neighbours, exploitative boyfriends, sexual predators, etc.), the Prinzenbad represents a comparably peaceful and tranquil space, where they can feel at home in ways they can’t in the domestic spaces they share with their families. The Prinzenbad thus fulfils an important function in the film it is here that the girls appear to temporarily shed the social conditions governing their lives.

This scene review was originally published in World Film Locations: Berlin edited by Susan Ingram. Other recommendations can be found in our online bookshop.

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