Entries tagged with “Austrian cinema”.


Despite being quite a popular and well established genre, biographical films about artists succeed quite seldom to become consistent works of art by themselves. In many cases they deal with personalities whose art and biographies are reasonably or well known to the audiences. The personalities of the artists, the environment they lived within, their relations with the society and the personal lives, in some cases controversial are good material, but the script writers, directors and actors have to match their cinematic work with the expectations, have to bring enough new elements to make the films interesting and above all have a formidable competitor for their films in the art created by the heroes of their stories. Austrian director ‘s tentative with “Egon Schiele: Death and the Maiden” (or “Egon Schiele: Tod und Mädchen” in German) is a good exemplification of a diligent tentative that does not succeed to avoid all the traps and surface above the crowd.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4558396

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4558396

 

Egon Schiele was one of the lead artists in the period of art flourishing at the beginning of the 20th century in Austria. While post-Impressionism, Fauvism and Cubism was changing in a revolutionary manner the history of art in France, and while German artists were building the foundations of Expressionism and Abstract art, their Austrian colleagues of generation were shattering the bourgeois establishment with a more subtle and subversive approach. Certainly, the works of Klimt and Schiele were defining new aesthetic codes, but their attack on the conservative art was coming mostly on the moral grounds. In the decadent atmosphere of the end of the empire, they were living a free and amoral life according to the codes of their time, and this was reflected openly in their art. Egon Klimt, whose last eight years of his short life are described in the film, lived in a passionate but also deeply anxious manner. Had death not cut short his life (he died in the terrible flu epidemic in the last month of the war) he may have joined the expressionist current, and maybe become a great anti-war artist such as Otto Dix.

 

(video source Thimfilm Filmverleih)

 

Unfortunately, little of the torments of the artist are translated to screen in “Egon Schiele: Death and the Maiden“. We are served with a quite documented biographical film, which is as much as I can judge close and true to the facts that we know about his life. The focus of the script and of the film director was directed to the historical details and the sentimental life of the painter. There is too little in the film that can explain the psychological shock that one feels when looking at the paintings and drawings of Schiele, the deep mute shout that comes from the lines, the forms, the expressions of the people (mostly women) that he painted. The team of artists (, , ) is very well selected, and their acting reveals a little more than the script does, but this is still enough. Director succeeded to make a rather conventional film about a provoking artist.

 

 

By the end of the opening scene of Revanche something falls (maybe it was thrown) in the quite water of a lake. Then we can see the idyllic landscape of a lawn with warm colors like from a Renoir painting being molded. We can guess that all this quietness is apparent, and that it will be troubled soon by violent events. This is what eventually happens, but it happens at its own pace and is told in a clear and distinct voice in this film by Austrian director Gotz Spielmann. An unexpected suspense drama coming from a school of cinema that proves that Michael Haneke is not the only remarkable Austrian director. There is actually something from the Haneke style in this film, with a story where chance may lead to tragedy and with the world of dark secrets hidden under the appearances of quite and banal lives.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1173745/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1173745/

 

Two distinct worlds are presented in Revanche. One is the world of the brothels in Vienna where most of the working girls come from Eastern Europe, a world of sin and violence. The best characters who can populate this world are a couple of lovers (he’s some kind of bodyguard and driver, she is a hooker) who try the coup which would arrange their lives – more like in an American movie with roles like Nicolas Cage used once to play. This world is the back door of the other world, the ‘normal’ Austrian society, with pastoral country-side, devoted policemen who jog and have wives who go to church. When the two worlds meet the collision can be tragic, even if tragedy is caused only by human mistake. The ensuing drama one of these eternal stories of love, death and revenge, but a revenge which is obtained in a very unexpected manner. Eventually the balance is re-established but at a huge price.

 

(video source criterioncollection)

 

There are a lot of surprising turns in this film and I will avoid telling anything about the story in order to leave the pleasure of following it to those who are interested. I will just recommend it for the quality of acting, of cinematography and story telling. It also fits several categories of viewers – people who like dramas and thrillers as well. The film got a nomination for the Academy Awards for the Foreign Language Film, but did not win. Its place among the nominees seems to have been however well deserved.