Bagdad Café

Directed by Percy Adlon, Germany 1987
95 mins. German and English dialogue with English sub-titles



German tourist Jasmin Münchgstettner (Marianne Sägebrecht) and her husband fight while driving across the desert. She storms out of the car and makes her way to the isolated truck stop, which is run by the tough-as-nails and short-tempered Brenda (CCH Pounder), whose own husband is soon to leave as well. Jasmin takes a room at the adjacent motel. Initially suspicious of the foreigner, Brenda eventually befriends Jasmin and allows her to work at the café.

The café is visited by an assortment of colourful characters, including a strange ex-Hollywood set-painter (Jack Palance) and a glamorous tattoo artist (Christine Kaufmann). Brenda's son (Darron Flagg) plays JS Bach preludes on the piano. With an ability to quietly empathise with everyone she meets at the café, helped by a passion for cleaning and performing magic tricks, Jasmin gradually transforms the café and all the people in it.

What the Critics say:
"A wish-fulfilling fable about culture-clash and the melting-pot ... Adlon's method is at once intimate, quirky and affirmative: precise evocation of place, expressive colours and a slow build-up of characters, allow him to raise the film effortlessly into realms of fantasy, shafted with magic and moments of epiphany."  (Wally Hammond - Time Out)