70-year old Brandner Kaspar lives with his granddaughter Nannerl in the mountains at the Schliersee. As he is visited by the Death and wants to take him, Brandner Kaspar tricks him and gets another 20 years of life.
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Die Fledermaus is one of the greatest of the operetta genre so of course any film or performance of it raises high hopes. This 1962 film was incredibly disappointing, and in my mind only the awful and downright distasteful 2001 Salzburg production was worse. There are some brownie points here with Boy Gobert's sparkling Orlofsky, Peter Alexander's poignant rendition of Bruderlein und Schwesterlein and the athleticism of Marika Rokkh, but everything else doesn't work. As wonderful as Strauss' music is, it is very difficult to appreciate it when the way it is arranged comes across as very simplistic and done to the extent that it doesn't sound like Strauss at all. The playing of the score could have sparkled much more and been much more lush in sound, here it was rather plodding and bland-sounding. The story also disappoints, also simplified and very crudely. Thankfully it is not as distasteful as the Salzburg production, but the fun, endearing silliness, heart and charm of Die Fledermaus' story is lost here, at best there is only one or two mild laughs and no emotional investment at all. Of the performances only three are halfway decent, the rest are forgettable and the waste of Hans Moser is unforgivable. Even visually it doesn't appeal, the costumes and sets are rather cartoonish, the colours garish instead of lavish and the camera work suggestive of a complete lack of experience behind the camera judging from the lack of finesse. To conclude, truly disappointing and poorly done film version of an operetta masterpiece. It is not quite as awful as the Salzburg production but every other performance of Die Fledermaus is a million times better than this. 3/10 Bethany Cox
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