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In a desolate and colorless landscape stands a dilapidated bathhouse run by a puffed-up blind man, his long-suffering wife, and their son Anton, who does all the work. He's lonely and unsophisticated, and he falls in love with the beautiful Eva, who comes to bathe with her father. When Eva and her father lose their home, they come to the bathhouse to stay, but bits of the ceiling fall on the old man and he dies. Eva blames Anton, and she seems to seek the arms of the brute Gregor. Can Anton win back her heart, get the bathhouse through a rigorous government inspection, and help keep his parents employed? Waiting out there somewhere is the paradise isle of Tuvalu. Written by
A wonderful experiment in the basics of film making.
This is a film that filled me with warmth and appreciation for the cinematic artform. Using tinted black and white film and a suggestion of dialogue, Veit Helmer was able to successfully tell a story in the way they were told within the first 30 years of cinema. It should renew anyone's faith in this medium who thought that Hollywood productions were all that were left to call "entertainment".
Andre is the younger son of a blind man, left to run a delapidated bath house in a fictional European city a few years in the future(?). He not only has to juggle the possible closing of the house by local authorities, keep business going as usual, and keep his Father from finding out the true plight of which they face, but also face his first true love, Eva. All this and an evil brother who wants to see the bath house torn down in way for a new development and you have a formula that has been seen many times over.
However, several elements come into play that make this an outstanding film. One, the film is shot using tinted black and white film, giving the decaying sets a life of their own. Second, Veir opted out of having any "real" dialogue and instead presented a combination of gestures, expressions and universally known words to convey the words. This made way for the kind of acting that was predominate in the first 30 years of film history, and if he had decided to illiminate the dialogue altogether it would have come out the exact same way. Not since the premiere films of Luc Besson, David Lynch or Lars Von Trier can I stress the incredible treasure that has been created.
I hope that many more of you have the chance to see this film.
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