|Index||3 reviews in total|
One of the very first sound movies. Sound is everywhere during the whole film: the vacuum-cleaner, the ringing of the phone, the piano... Everybody speaks but no-one hears, except maybe the cleaning woman who is presented as deaf. The story takes place in a flat where several destinies cross but may be never meet. It is a very bitter description of a microcosm: all the characters are funny, but desperately helpless and hopeless.
After his success with ''People on Sunday'', director Robert Siodmak
made the first talking picture for UFA in quite a similar fashion.
While ''People on Sunday' focuses on the life of four regular citizens
of pre-war Germany during a Sunday and shows the love and pleasure of
daily life, 'Abschied'' takes a more cynical approach and depicts a day
in the life of mostly poor people who live in the same building with
main focus on the couple Hella and Peter Winkler.
The main conflict arises when Hella finds out that her boyfriend wants to move out but hasn't told her anything about it. He then tells her that he got a job offer which would pay him enough money for them to be married. After this conflict is resolved, another emerges because of a misunderstanding and so on. This is more ore less how the movie plays out until it leads to a bittersweet ending.
Since this was the first sound film produced by the UFA, they had to experiment and used it at practically every instant they could, whether it was necessary or not. Because of this, the piano player, one of the few characters, felt shoe-horned in and didn't contributed anything to the film. This what the movie lacked in the first place: Developed characters, which is really a shame since the cast is small anyway and the whole film takes place in a confined space (one building) were most characters basically have to interact with each other.
The acting was fine for the most part, except for Aribert Mog, who played the main character Peter. His acting was atrocious in some scenes. Other weird decisions were the camera placement during a dialog between the couple, were the upper body of Peter completely covered Hellas face.
All in all it was a fine little movie with an interesting theme, nut also without it's flaws
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Imaginatively and skilfully directed despite the considerable
limitations of the technical side. With only one microphone in use and
no subsequent mixing the music - mostly piano played on or off screen
by one of the inmates - was recorded at the same time as the dialogue;
although the sound editing sometimes wasn't at the same point as the
picture, this sometimes resulted in abrupt cuts - really the only
technical problem. When shown at the National Film Theatre on April 1
2015 the print quality was excellent and the sound, though the levels
were a bit variable, well balanced with good use of perspectives, and
mostly very clear.
The acting is good, held suitably in check, and the intercutting between various conversations quite advanced for the time. Unusually for the period, the film opens with an attractive theme song sung over the titles; the tune recurs from time to time as played by one of the inmates.
The films ends with a neat ironic twist to provide the unhappy ending. Bizarrely, the production company (UFA) shot a further scene (without reference to Siodmak) to go on the end, in which some of the minor characters meet a year later and describe a happy ending for the main characters, thus completely undermining the original ironic ending. (The NFT showed this after the film, with an explanatory subtitle.)
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