HEALTH: A deeply intimate film, telling the story of a life together that has weathered all crises.
Bianca-Olivia Nita
Bianca is a freelance journalist and documentary critic. She is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: August 17, 2019

When life is good and all goes well, promises of commitment come easy. All couples start their life together with a sense of wonder and the feeling they have a long time ahead. But what if life shows up with a change of plans that transforms the freedom and openness irreversibly? What if you are asked to give up everything you are, and want, to face this challenge? How does love change then? What would you do? Who would you be?

A decade after her 2008 debut feature No More Smoke Signals, Fanny Bräuning’s new film The Journey – A Story of Love touches on all these questions and is perhaps one of the most personal and intimate documentary films you will ever see.

Adjustments and will

Two decades ago, suffering from multiple sclerosis, Bräuning’s mother, Annette, fell into a coma. After this, she remained paralyzed from the neck down, completely dependent on caretakers and on the relentless and unabated dedication of Bräuning’s father, Niggi. The option of putting Annette in a hospice was never an option for him. He embraced his new role fully, he quit his job, and he adapted. And despite it all, they both never stopped living life. Life only changed, requiring big adjustments and a lot of will.

Through intimate shots, interviews, family footage, and photos, the film tells the unimaginable and inspiring story of Annette and Niggi’s love. It is a story of two people who took «through good and bad, until death do us apart» and applied it to their life.

Life only changed, requiring big adjustments and a lot of will.

Now in their sixties, Annette and Niggi make the most of what is possible, still traveling – against all odds – in a caravan transformed by Niggi to fit Annette’s needs. As they age, taking care of Annette gets more difficult for Niggi, and her illness is expected to progress even more.

A happy life

The family archive of images and videos showcase a happy life – a couple of artists and their children, traveling, working, smiling and enjoying the outdoors. Their past looks warm and happy; they lived through careless times of normality and easiness, the shadow of Annette’s MS looming, but not there yet. It is the contrast between then and now that makes their story extremely powerful because it brings the realization that happiness does not safeguard against tragedy. Their story could become ours too.

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