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The story follows the life of a regular German women Leni Gruyten during 1930s and 1940s. Through her interactions with friends, family and other people she knows, the regular folks' perception of the Nazi era is shown.
The late 1950s was a time when cinema style was changing particularly in Europe. Austria and Germany also had to cope with that change. At that time, the "international audience" expressed some baseless critical viewpoints about German movies claiming that they are seriously flawed due to their sweetness, unrealism and (overused word) "kitsch." Although most of the voices did not deny that the German cinema before 1939 was very good, they totally rejected their post war films, particularly those made in the 1950s. Meanwhile, Romy Schneider, a rising Austrian star so famous for her SISSI trilogy, was opened to a career perspective in France. When she refused Ernst Marischka to play in the fourth part of SISSI, some different movies were made with her in the lead in order to keep her home (naturally). Some of the movies were very good and some weaker but most of them aimed at "curing" Romy of Sissi sweet image. These were foremost SCAMPOLO, MONPTI and HALBZARTE. However, DIE HALBZARTE by Rolf Thiele is, unfortunately, the worst one.
Sorry but there is nothing positive I can find about this movie. The story is very unconvincing, sometimes deadly artificial; the cinematography is seriously flawed (dark scenes are very hard to watch), the direction seems to be of amateur style. Rolf Thiele was not that green as a film-maker since he directed some pretty good movies. Yet, this one is his complete failure. And the gist of the content: a young girl writing a scandalous book based on her fantasies: something perhaps innovative for the 1950s but not very appealing.
There is also a problem concerning performances. Although the film has very good cast of the time, including Magda Schneider, Josef Meinrad and, of course, Romy Schneider, none of them manages to portray his/her character convincingly. There is a story of a family but no one feels to watch a family; a story of artists but no one can find any insight into their characters; finally a story of a "teen difficult age" but no one can find something vital in its depiction. The focus is put on sex and sexual fantasies expressed in stories, which the parents find outrageous: something deeply universal but poorly executed; yet, something, to the joy of many, not very sweet. But if that was only to suffice...
I think that the reason for the movie to be such a failure is that none of the people making it felt comfortable about the script. As the person who commented on the movie before me said, Rolf Thiele apologised later for the very weak script. But what remained still is. The results are tragic. The symbolic scene of this movie became Romy Schneider looking at herself in the mirror and pretending what her kiss would look like. Due to the fact that this scene is played with her real mother, Magda Schneider, some people found this a reference to Romy's life when she was leaving (actually in 1958) her home for France. Biographical as it may seem, it's not that memorable.
DIE HALBZARTE is not a film I would recommend to you. Romy Schneider was a great actress, she did many wonderful films but this one is, unfortunately, on the list of her weakest ones. You'd better not choose this movie if this is your first Romy film, certainly. If you expect a movie to carry something, at least good entertainment only, this one does not do well even in this aspect. Just a story, just a little shallow film where no one feels comfortable and neither did I while watching it. 3/10!
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