Apart from what I learned in school, I'm not very familiar with the German classical period (Lessing, Schiller, Goethe, Kleist). I've always preferred stage authors like Büchner, Wedekind or Brecht because they seemed more "modern" to me and all the films that I've seen this year about Schiller and his oeuvre (dubbed the "Schiller year" because it was his two-hundredth death year) did nothing to change this opinion of mine.
Up until yesterday, that is. Then I saw Leander Hausmann's adaptation of "Kabale und Liebe" which showed how fresh and up-to-date a 200 year old play in classical German language can be. Kenneth Branagh did the same for Shakespeare, but I liked "Kabale und Liebe" even better, because the way the plot unfolded, the humor and the acting was more natural. You hardly notice it's a costume drama. I liked everything about this adaptation: The set design and the costumes are great, the cinematography is excellent and all the actors down to the smallest supporting roles are brilliant (August Diehl and Paula Kalenberg are very convincing as lovers, Detlev Buck steals the show, Haussmann regulars Ignaz Kirchner, Katharina Thalbach and Annika Kuhl are in turn hilarious and heart-wrenching and even Götz George is acceptable for once). The music, traditional German folk songs, is unusual but very beautiful.
Hausmann seems to have a special knack for idylls. Not just in "Kabale und Liebe", but also in the contemporary "NVA" the way the protagonists fall in love (and how it is filmed) remind me of shepherd idylls in literature or paintings from the Rokokko, Sturm und Drang or Romantik periods. Typically German in the best sense of the word!
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