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Die Überführung (1979)



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Toni Berger ...
Scheidrich, 'Schexbräu'
Karl Obermayr ...
Christa Berndl ...
Ilse Neubauer ...
Reinhold Olszewski ...
Manfred Fenzl ...
Maria Stadler ...
Hugo Lindinger ...
Franz Mosthav ...
Vera Rheingold ...
Resi Stuffer ...
Gerd Deutschmann ...
Alexander Malachowsky ...
Eva Eichner ...
Burgl, Schnapswirtin
Rosi Käsweber ...


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Release Date:

20 October 1979 (West Germany)  »

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A film contemplating time in a land that seems to have been forgotten by time
17 November 2014 | by See all my reviews

The brewery-owner Schexbräu (Tony Berger) and the farmer Martl (Karl Obermeyer) have been best friends since childhood days, growing up together in a small Lower-Bavarian hamlet. Together they had to serve in World War I, being the only survivors of a massacre at Verdun. But this time has changed the two men forever: While Martl has lost one arm, Schexbräu lost one eye and received a bullet-wound to his head. In their hometown their reputation isn't the best, since both men vagabond through the countryside and spend most of their time at local taverns, the friends are considered drunks, so that even the local priest declares them a bad example for the community. Martl eventually dies after having delayed treatment of a stomach-ailment by wasting time in beer-houses and rather trying out quack-ointments than consulting a real doctor, it is Schexbräus duty to bring his friends body home for funeral. But instead, Schexbräu takes the coffin on a tour through their old haunts, while at home the village is waiting for the funeral to begin.

Bavarians claim that they are people of shifting moods, which they often blame on the weather and particularly the "Fön", the mild west-wind that is said to cause depression and headaches. They like nothing better but to spend hours in the local beer-house, chucking down liters upon liters of beer (which they drink from buckets called "Mas"), playing cards of joking with their cronies. However, at the next moment that might fall into melancholic stupors, staring for hours into said mugs, contemplating whether it's half full or half empty and the meaning of life and death. Like I said: they often do blame that conditions on the weather, not the alcohol and usually they're only half-joking.

"Die Überführung" (which is the process of bringing a dead body or coffin home to be buried) is one of those rare exceptions of a Bavarian movie, that is neither a light comedy nor a folk-film, but rather a drama that meanders on the dark side of the Bavarian psyche. It's a movie about the loss of innocents and, more important, the loss of time. In particular, the price of time that is often squandered at the taverns and beer-gardens, where the past is contemplated and celebrated, while the future is all too often not even considered at all. Director Kurt Wilhelm has picked up on this common Bavarian flaw, that for many the past is often way more important than the future. Visitors may have noticed, that Bavaria is one of the few German states where people still regularly their "Tracht" (the traditional Tirolian attire), where many hamlets still seem stuck in the 18th century and people still speak in reference to their king, who has died more than 150 years ago. Toni Berger and Karl Obermeyer were among the most popular Bavarian actors of their period and get the chance to for once play in a serious movie. Both are excellent as best friends, who are more like brothers and seem to compensate each other for the limbs they lost on the battleground. They are men who at all times have one foot on the bloodstained soil of Verdun, while planting the other firmly in the next tavern. The landscape virtually plays the third main-role. Bavarians are generally proud of the majestic beauty of the land, the semi-wild nature, mountains and deep forests. The dark side of this are (literally) the winters, where the air itself seems to freeze and the sun seems to shun the land. It is in one such winter that "Die Überführung" plays in. Most pictures seem devoid of light and warmth, apart when being inside a train-station-tavern or a beer-house, which is found on virtually every corner. There is an illusion of time standing still, but as Martl and Schexbräu will have to discover, it is only an illusion.

Perhaps because of it's melancholic content, this is a very rare and very obscure Bavarian film to find, but will occasionally be shown on local TV, generally around the times of All Hollows Eve, which is in itself a time of contemplation. It still is very worthwhile for those, who wonder why and how nature and weather play such a big role in the films of Werner Herzog (himself being Bavarian). As a rarity it gets a 7 from 10.

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