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"Frau Holle" is one of the more known fairy tales by the legendary Brothers Grimm and it has been turned into film on several occasions, at least here in Germany. In the last 10 years, several German television stations took some of the Grimms' most known and turned them into small screen movies. This is one of them. Actually, it is possibly the best of them. Like most of the others it runs for roughly an hour and features also some faces that German film buffs will immediately recognize. The screenplay writer here is Marlies Ewald and I liked her work, but looking at how she is mostly known for her work on the terrible Pilcher novels maybe it's just that the Grimms' material is so good. I still applaud her on this script though. The director is Bodo Fürneisen and he worked on other of these fairy tales as well, so is pretty experienced.
It's tough to say what I liked the most about this hour. Maybe it was lead actress Lea Eisleb. I thought she had amazing screen presence and was a perfect fit for the character. She was 15 or 16 when this film came out and it makes me sad to see she has not acted since 2011 as I'd love to see her in new upcoming projects. Physically she reminded me a bit of Wolke Hegenbarth. Then there is Herbert Feuerstein and I have been a fan of him for a long time. I liked how they included him as a minor character and have him tell us the story. There is one scene near the end that I really enjoyed when we see him and the lazy girl and hear the message that it all comes back to you, the good as well as the bad. I also liked Frau Holle's "world" and with this I am not necessarily referring to the landscapes, but to the characters like the oven, the raven or the apple tree. It all worked well, especially looking at the parallels between the good girl and the bad girl and how they encountered all these characters. There was one scene I liked in particular that felt very telling, namely when Pechlouise asks the butterfly if this is Frau Holle's house and he just flies away quietly.
Marianne Sägebrecht ("Out of Rosenheim") is of course the most famous cast member here and she is a perfect fit for the character of Frau Holle. Roles of very kind women with determination though are what suits her the best. Back to the earthly scenes, I also appreciated the overall looks of the film in terms of costumes and sets etc. It all had a medieval touch to it and this village felt like something where I would like to live too as I felt we were watching a community. There are characters that may have flaws (like the woman laughing at Pechlouise), but they aren't mean. They did not all start laughing all of a sudden. You can maybe make an argument that the film has little shades and that the characters are all good or bad, but honestly this isn't even true which you will see if you analyze the protagonist's mother for example. And even if it was, I think in fairy tales it is really fine. It's fantasy and we should not expect too much realism there. The ending may not be for everybody with the quick change in mind of Pechlouise, but again, fairy tales want to close on a happy ending and deliver a message and from that perspective, it was working. It's also a feel-good ending after all and again I liked the parallel reference here. I will tell you what I mean by that: The parallels in Frau Holle's world were all bad for Louise, but this one was good as she receives the brooch because Marie wants her to have it. At night, earlier in the film, Marie just wanted to be left alone and she did not care for her sister to have it, that's why she left it to her. Finally, a quick note on the side-plot with the bread baker. This one was also nice and a nice little diversion from the main plot at times. The hungry geese were fun and all the other farm animals (and the dog) were nice to watch too for animals lovers. The one thing I did not really like were the two boys. They added almost nothing to the film besides the "it all comes back" reference at the dance scene eventually. I would not have missed them if the film had been without them. Buteven there, it is something positive as the film has zero focus on love relationships and cheesy romance as fairy tale films often have. And if it did, it was all just suggested and nothing concrete like the mother dancing with the baker. You can think for yourself how thing will change and turn out for everybody.
Overall, I was very impressed by this film. For me, it is exactly what a fairy tale movie should look like. It has a message, it has lots of heart and soul (I loved the scene when Marie is homesick and paints her home while being in Frau Holle's house), it has fun moments and there is a certain innocence to it that I really enjoyed. This was the second time I watched this one and I know I really liked it the first time too and it was just as good on a re-watch. It is not a problem at all if you know the story. You will still be entertained very well and I highly recommend checking it out. A must see for those who love fairy tale adaptations.
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