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Award-winning German film complicates everyday life

by admin September 20, 2010

Award-winning German film complicates everyday life

by admin September 20, 2010

The many choices and decisions we make in life are certain to shape our destiny but random events can overturn the best laid plans, and we find ourselves lost before our fate.

This is one of the main themes of the 2006 film Longing (original title Sehnsucht), which tells the story of a young husband (Andreas Müller) torn between between two lives: the one he shares with his gentle and devoted wife (Ilka Welz) and his affair with a waitress from a neighbouring town (Anett Dorsnbusch). Longing was selected as one of the top 30 films from the last decade by a Toronto International Film Festival jury.

A metalworker in a small rural village, Markus lives a simple monotonous life until one morning, as he is out of town for a weekend of fireman training, he wakes up in the bed of a bar waitress. Hungover, unable to recall the events of the night before, he goes on with his training but his relationship with Rose develops, as his sense of duty compels him not to abandon her. Returning home, he finds his wife Ella, as devoted and passionate as ever, unaware of the chasm that has since been cleft between them and within Markus himself.

The general plot of this film is one that has been used and overused. At first sight, it seems like a typical melodramatic love triangle. However, there is absolutely nothing typical or melodramatic about this story. Longing is a quiet film, shot with a naturalist aesthetic. Other than the party scenes, there is no music, words are softly spoken, and sounds are sparse and rarely loud. The colours are simple, neutral and many extreme closeups focus on details and create a sense of complete enclosure. The camera also pays close attention to the repetitive actions of daily life; Markus’ life at work is seen constantly and observed in great detail.

This way of portraying the action mirrors the characters’ personalities and the way they go about their lives. They are simple people with simple jobs, simple activities, living in tranquility but below the surface, they are charged with intense emotions, which they keep bottled up inside and are unable to release. Markus especially undergoes deep emotional turmoil while being totally inexpressive. He never shouts or makes a scene; he only cries softly on one occasion during the entire film. He lives in a world where emotions run deep, but never rise to the surface.

That is one of the great strengths of this film; its genuine portrayal of dramatic scenes, through understatement and realism. Longing shows us a tragedy of love and loss, which was director Valeska Grisebach’s goal all along, casting non-professional actors in a true-to-life melodrama.

Longing is screening in German with English subtitles at the Goethe Institute Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $7; $6 for students.

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The many choices and decisions we make in life are certain to shape our destiny but random events can overturn the best laid plans, and we find ourselves lost before our fate.

This is one of the main themes of the 2006 film Longing (original title Sehnsucht), which tells the story of a young husband (Andreas Müller) torn between between two lives: the one he shares with his gentle and devoted wife (Ilka Welz) and his affair with a waitress from a neighbouring town (Anett Dorsnbusch). Longing was selected as one of the top 30 films from the last decade by a Toronto International Film Festival jury.

A metalworker in a small rural village, Markus lives a simple monotonous life until one morning, as he is out of town for a weekend of fireman training, he wakes up in the bed of a bar waitress. Hungover, unable to recall the events of the night before, he goes on with his training but his relationship with Rose develops, as his sense of duty compels him not to abandon her. Returning home, he finds his wife Ella, as devoted and passionate as ever, unaware of the chasm that has since been cleft between them and within Markus himself.

The general plot of this film is one that has been used and overused. At first sight, it seems like a typical melodramatic love triangle. However, there is absolutely nothing typical or melodramatic about this story. Longing is a quiet film, shot with a naturalist aesthetic. Other than the party scenes, there is no music, words are softly spoken, and sounds are sparse and rarely loud. The colours are simple, neutral and many extreme closeups focus on details and create a sense of complete enclosure. The camera also pays close attention to the repetitive actions of daily life; Markus’ life at work is seen constantly and observed in great detail.

This way of portraying the action mirrors the characters’ personalities and the way they go about their lives. They are simple people with simple jobs, simple activities, living in tranquility but below the surface, they are charged with intense emotions, which they keep bottled up inside and are unable to release. Markus especially undergoes deep emotional turmoil while being totally inexpressive. He never shouts or makes a scene; he only cries softly on one occasion during the entire film. He lives in a world where emotions run deep, but never rise to the surface.

That is one of the great strengths of this film; its genuine portrayal of dramatic scenes, through understatement and realism. Longing shows us a tragedy of love and loss, which was director Valeska Grisebach’s goal all along, casting non-professional actors in a true-to-life melodrama.

Longing is screening in German with English subtitles at the Goethe Institute Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $7; $6 for students.

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