Thursday, June 14, 2018

Die geliebten Schwestern / Beloved Sisters

Director: Dominik Graf
Country: Germany, Austria, Switzerland
Year: 2014
Duration: 2.51
Languages: de, fr
    In the presence of Dominik Graf, hosted by Olaf Möller.
    DCP with English subtitles viewed at Cinema Lapinsuu, Midnight Sun Film Festival (MSFF), Sodankylä, 14 June 2018.

MSFF: "Weimar and Rudolstadt, the summer of 1788. Friedrich Schiller meets and falls in love with the sisters von Lengefeld, Caroline and Charlotte. When they meet, Caroline is married to Friedrich Baron von Beulwitz, for purely financial reasons – their mother, Charlotte von Kalb, is in need of money after the death of her husband. Social necessities and the defiantly asocial desires of the heart as well as the body shall continue to clash in the decades to come. And yet, for all the hits they take in life, this love of three people for each other never dies – consciously or not, they keep that oh-so-needed last embers of passion glowing, till death shall take its toll…"

"Dominik Graf’s Les deux Anglaises et le continent (1971), just much more daring. Once again, Graf manages to fuse seemingly contradictory elements into a harmonious whole: A somewhat flat visual core scheme inspired by the painting style of the era is enriched with insights and quotes from extremely unusual, mainly local early experiments with the language of heritage cinema, like Klaus Kirschner’s biopic Mozart – Aufzeichnungen einer Jugend (1976), back then a matinee regular but today completely forgotten, or Das Tagebuch des Verführers (1978) by Michael Hild, one of Graf’s older fellow students who’d forfeit directing for producing." (OM)

AA: A love story around Friedrich Schiller during the Weimarer Klassik and the French Revolution, written and directed by Dominik Graf. A triangle that evokes comparisons with Jules et Jim in the cinema, only now here there are two women and one man. In Finland there is an inevitable association with Juhani Aho, one of our greatest writers, who was married to Venny Soldan and had a love affair and a child also with Venny's sister Tilly Soldan.

The special accent in this story is historical: it takes place at the turn of the ages. For aristocracy, all kinds of menages were normal. For the bourgeoisie matters were different. For aristocrats, love and marriage were things apart. Marriage was a practical arrangement, to be conducted according to rules and regulations. Love was important too, but love and passion can be transient. Loves may go but marriage endures.

This love story revolves around Schiller, but the two sisters are the dynamic characters, as the title of the film gives out. The performances of Hannah Herzsprung and Henriette Confurius are complex and passionate. Intelligent, and with flesh and blood. The story is unique, special and memorable.

Schiller is portrayed as a rebel and a professional. Florian Stetter's performance is somewhat laid back. We see Schiller's struggle to get a chair in Jena and his rousing inaugural lecture, an impressive setpiece in the movie. Dominik Graf has also affectionate sequences about the development of the book printing profession. Johann Friedrich Cotta appears as a person in the drama.

Goethe, like Jesus in 1950s Hollywood films, is a constant presence, but we never see him. He is mostly reflected in the agonized longing of Charlotte von Stein (Maja Maranow).

The physical production is wonderful and lavish. This period drama is full of life. The landscapes are breathtaking, the sense for the nature and the seasons is intensive. The period houses, vehicles and costumes feel authentic. There is a love in the detail in the production.

Although this director's cut is almost three hours long, it is never languorous. On the contrary, the edit is very fast, and often I would have preferred to linger longer on images.

The visual look of the DCP is beautiful.

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