Friday, 26 September 2014

Film #26: Wer früher stirbt ist länger tot

Directed by: Marcus H. Rosenmüller
Released: 2006
English title (IMDb): Grave Decisions 
Literal translation of title: The sooner you die, the longer you’re dead 

For a slight change, this week I watched a film that is not yet available with English subtitles. And to be honest, even if you speak German, you may still need subtitles! The Bavarian dialect in this film is so strong that the only way I could understand it was by reading the “standard German”. If you can understand it, I really think this film is worth seeking out for its mix of broad comedy and tragedy.

Upon learning that his mother died giving birth to him, young Sebastian becomes obsessed with mortality – keeping his mother’s memory alive, what will happen to him when he does die and how to become immortal. Along the way, he tries to reanimate a dead rabbit, helps an old woman to fly and casts a love spell. But the amusement is punctuated by sadness – his father’s grief, the loneliness that can develop in an unhappy marriage – and genuine peril for Sebastian himself.

The film also has a strong visual element: Sebastian begins to dream of the Last Judgement as he becomes convinced that he is a murderer and his imagination takes flight. What I really liked about the film was the way it deftly combines childhood and death with a result that is heart-warming and heart-breaking in equal measure. It’s a real shame that this has not been released with English subtitles, but hopefully that will change at some point.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Film #25: The Door (15)

Directed by: Anno Saul
Released: 2009
Original title: Die Tür (The Door)

Lately all the German films I’ve been watching seem to have been quite serious, so this time I thought I’d go for something a bit more fantastical. The Door features Mads Mikkelsen as David, an artist with an eye for the ladies. Unfortunately, while he is enjoying himself with an attractive neighbour, his young daughter bangs her head and drowns.

Cut to five years later: David is a mess and he and his wife have separated. Seemingly by chance, he discovers a door to a tunnel that takes him to a parallel universe running five years behind his actual life. Coincidentally, he appears through the door at precisely the time his daughter is due to drown. After saving her life, he is confronted by his former self. So what does he do? Kill himself, of course. He quickly assumes the role of the husband he knows he should have been, but his daughter is not convinced and his wife begins to wonder when he had a personality transplant.

He soon discovers that he is not the only one to have made this transition, and the others have no desire to see their cosy little existence disrupted. Things inevitably escalate until his wife happens upon two of her friends being murdered by their doppelgängers. Ultimately, David has to decide whose happiness is more important – his or his daughter’s.

What bothered me most about this film is Mads Mikkelsen – not his performance, but trying to figure out whether he was actually speaking German or had been dubbed. I think it must have been the latter, because at times his (supposed) voice seemed completely out of sync with the movements of his mouth. This might not bother other people but it really started to annoy me. Aside from this, The Door is an enjoyable enough romp that won’t tax your brain too much, although things do get a bit ridiculous towards the end.