“Rumspringa” is a German comedy film about an Amish boy named Jacob from Pennsylvania who travels to Berlin and meets another boy who appears to be Amish but does not live the life of an Amish lad. They create a special bond, and Alf, the Berlin boy, shows Jacob a whole new way of experiencing life and how he can make the most of his ‘Rumspringa’ experience.
Rumspringa is a Swiss-German and Alsatian Anabaptist tradition that originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. They are a collection of traditional Christian churches closely linked to Mennonite churches. This time in an adolescent’s life is critical for them to experience everything that life has to offer. For such lads, coming from very meager lodgings and lifestyles with rigorous schedules and norms, the adjustment is abrupt and startling. The story follows Jacob and Alf as their lives begin to intertwine with each other. Let us watch how they interact with one another and take us on a pleasant journey.
Jacob is a humble Amish boy, bidding his goodbyes to his family before embarking on a legendary Amish milestone—a Rumspringa. It is a period in a man’s life when he must discover his Ikigai (Japanese for “purpose”) and find a way to live life independently in order to return home and marry an Amish girl. He can return to his earlier lifestyle once all of his worldly wants have been satisfied.
His father has prepared him to travel to Berlin, but he has not prepared him for what comes next. Jacob is unaware that the norms he lived by are not the same rules that govern everyday life in Berlin. He lands and departs from the airport, where he encounters a girl who is on the phone, and he holds the cab door open for her. Jacob is left with no money after the cabbie makes the mistake of putting his bag in the cab with all of her belongings.
He’s in a pickle since he doesn’t have any cash or a credit card. He discovers a little card that the girl has dropped and preserves it, knowing that it will help him trace her down. He tries to get into a cab to follow her, but the driver stops and throws him out after he admits he doesn’t have any cash because he doesn’t believe in it.
When Jacob discovers he is alone in this big city, he wanders down the street and sees that people are staring at him because of his unorthodox style and haircut. He walks a little further to see if anyone is taking pictures of him, and he comes upon Alf, who has a beard and seems Amish. He requests for assistance because he has no money and senses a sense of familiarity. He starts following Alf, who is afraid. When Jacob is hit by a cyclist, Alf caves in and takes him home after confronting him about it. Alf discovers Freja, a girl he has a crush on, in his home. After seeing Jacob, Freja encourages Alf to take on some responsibility and assist Jacob.
In Berlin, Jacob learns to comprehend a modern way of life. He begins to piece together how to operate a toilet flush. For the first time, he tastes beer. Jacob has never had a physical relationship with a woman. He seems to have an odd hairstyle and no beard while appearing to be a child. Alf provides him with a false beard so that he may attend parties. He explains to Alf and his roommate Bo what Rumspringa is and how he recovers his possessions from the female at the airport as he begins his life. When he locates the girl after searching for the location of the card she left at the airport, he discovers her address by working as a delivery boy for the card’s address and notices his bag in that girl’s house. Her roommate returns his bag to him telling him she was about to throw it away.
When it is returned to him, he exhibits to the boys his ancestors’ handwriting and papers dating back to the 1950’s. Each page describes each man’s Rumspringa and recalls their experience in a single phrase or a couple of words. As the story progresses, we learn more about Alf, a gifted architect who hails from an affluent family that lovingly looks after their son.
Major Spoilers Ahead
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Jacob gradually accepts Alf for who he is. Jacob sleeps in the bathtub until he realizes he needs a bed. He begins to sleep better once they arrange his bed, and Alf takes him to a few parties. When Freja is there, Jacob senses Alf’s emotions and asks if he loves her. Alf is undecided about his feelings for her, but he knows he wants to be with her.
When Freja receives a large investment for her reusable Q-tips, Alf notices an ambitious woman and invites her out to become an exclusive pair. She politely declines and walks away. In the meantime, Jacob runs into Ina, the girl from the airport. She is the curator of an art gallery. She recognizes him at a party, and Alf understands that since he might be going on a date soon, he should get Jacob’s hair trimmed and make him look like a modern lad for a change.
He meets her and is enamored by her presence once he has done so. While Jacob and Ina are learning about Japanese cuisine, Alf is spending time with Freja. Both of the boys had had a full day of pure love. Jacob, on the other hand, has one more piece of manhood to discover. To drive a Mercedes car. Once Alf gives him the chance to do so, Jacob has moved to being a complete man after experiencing this adrenaline rush that defines manhood. Only intimacy and women remain to be investigated.
Jacob begins his journey with Ina by attempting to meet and spend time with her more frequently. She welcomes him to her home and introduces him to the various beliefs around women. Jacob speaks terms like “menstruation” and “vulva” to understand her idea of femininity. After he does so, she gives him the rite of passage and allows him to become a part of her life. While Jacob is courting Ina, Alf learns that Freja has left her investor, who had agreed to spend five million euros on her sustainable Q-tips business in exchange for a relationship with her. This causes Alf to reconsider their relationship, wondering if she may go on a whim. He decides to end their relationship with the understanding that it will only be temporary.
This puts him in a tough spot, and when Jacob returns, he learns that Alf has split up with Freja. Bo enters the room to notify Alf that his house called to inform him that his father has died. Alf sinks into a pit of despair. Becoming more acquainted with modern Berlin, Jacob comes to believe that it is his responsibility to assist Alf in completing his architecture submissions and attending his final exam. His Rumspringa is going nicely, he writes to his parents. When Alf’s father’s funeral occurs, Jacob oversleeps with Ina and misses the funeral, which enrages Alf when he returns home. Alf kicks Jacob out for not being present at the funeral.
He grabs Alf’s Mercedes and drives away, full of concerns about whether his Rumspringa involves people. He stumbles onto an Amish community and ponders why he is on this voyage. When they compare their sacred bibles, which have accounts of the family visiting various parts of the world for their Rumspringa, he discovers that the person he is sitting with is a distant blood relative. When a distant blood relative tells him, “his life is what he makes it.” Jacob recalls that Alf’s exam is coming soon, and he requires wood panels.
Alf has destroyed his final test model of the perfect library when he throws Jacob out. Jacob recognizes that his mission is more than what the Amish traditions imply. The practicality of design and architecture teaches him that, unlike how the distant relative mentioned previously, the Amish custom makes no sense. His mission is whatever he makes it. At this point, he realizes his role right now is to be the best support to Alf and he rides a horse to the airport to pursue Alf after the car runs out of gas.
When Alf sees Jacob on the horse at the airport, the airport attendant believes Jacob will make a love proposal to him, which is an amusing assumption. Jacob makes amends with Alf at the airport, and the two race to assist him in submitting his model for his final year submission. By a hair’s breadth, Alf makes it. Alf persuades Jacob to stay back a little longer and complete his Rumspringa after experiencing so much. Jacob writes to his parents to tell them that he wants to learn more about himself during his Rumspringa and the film ends on a happy note.
There is no room for advancement in Amish customs, which retain tight traditions and ideals that force individuals to live “disciplined” lives. That backward or orthodox or stripped down way of life does not appear helpful to those who really experience Rumspringa. Jacob’s spiritual journey is love, which he has with Ina, an art curator who sells his writing on a board for 25,000 euros, which he intends to spend towards Alf’s well-being once his father dies. Jacob finds significance in being in the present as he discovers his purpose.
The movie is a delightful slice of life that everyone should see. The journey gets considerably sweeter when we experience life again in a new light with enough direction and good people around us. With Jacob, we see love and desire through new eyes and with renewed energy. It’s definitely worth watching.
“Rumspringa” is a 2022 Drama Romance film directed by Mira Thiel.