In the summer of 1914, thirteen-year-old Oda von Siering (Paula Beer) leaves Berlin to join her family and an assortment of German and Russian aristocrats on an estate in Estonia. The von ... See full summary »
In Germany, the elder Frau Traude Krueger gives piano classes in a prison for a few prisoners and the security guard Mütze. When she sees the rebel and aggressive Jenny Von Loeben playing piano, she immediately identifies her potential and offers to teach her for a competition. Frau Krueger finds that Jenny was a prodigy when she was a child; abused when she was a teenager and has been imprisoned for murdering and decapitating a man. Along the period they work together preparing for the exhibition, Frau Krueger discloses secrets about her love in World War II while the self-destructive Jenny has four minutes of glory and recognition of her talent. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When student Jenny is at Frau Krüger's (b. 1926) home, a picture of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) and one of Wilhelm Furtwängler (1886-1954) can be seen on the wall above the piano. Earlier, we see a picture of Furtwängler when the young Krüger is being coerced by a member of the Nazi party to rebuke her friendship with her then student (circa 1944). See more »
In several sequences where we see Jenny playing the piano, the notes we hear do not correspond to the keys she plays. See more »
The triumph of the individual, even if it means self-destruction...
4 Minutes (2006)
This is the German "Four Minutes" and it's an intense look at a woman's prison and a prisoner who has a gift for playing piano. And then about an older woman who had some undisclosed issues in her past (during WWII) and is now steadfastly teaching piano in the prison. Music contests come along, and the inmate fights all the odds to compete.
That's the surface. Deeper and more interesting are the troubled psyches of the two leads, the younger woman vitriolic and intense (and quite believable), the older woman steely and cold and almost cruel. That they come to terms with one another is a given, sort of (that's what movies typically do), but how that turns on a couple of spectacular (and a little sensationalist) twists at the ends is pretty rousing.
There is great music, conflicts with Nazi and racist overtones, lesbianism, and of course, a rough and tumble prison world in contemporary Germany. That's enough for any good film. It makes it moving and the high stakes are somehow justified by the intense acting. It breaks conventions within a larger cliché of the heroine struggling against the odds. It has an odd and disturbing element about innocence, and this leads further into the psychology of the inmate, but it isn't quite resolved.
But it's all really interesting and provocative. You will probably cheer a little by the end, too.
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