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 ...
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Jan Josef Liefers
This movie is about the Estonian War of Independence (1918-1920), specifically the students fighting on the nationalist side, but also shown the conflict between two ideologies (Estonian nationalism and communism).
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 Siering family home is a character in its own right, a hulking, neoclassical manor that hovers on stilts above the sea. Oda arrives there bearing her mother's coffin and a gift requested by her surgeon father: a jarred, two-headed fetus to add to his laboratory of gruesome curiosities. Ebbo von Siering (Edgar Selge) sees himself in his daughter when she calmly and expertly learns to suture the corpse of a cat. What he fails to recognize - and what Oda luckily understands - is that their interest in science is their only similarity. His dedication to experimentation is linked to an appalling obsession with power and destruction, while Oda is genuinely curious about life. Her quick, quiet intelligence complements her humanity and her lucid understanding of right and wrong. When she strays from a family... Written by
Toronto International Film Festival
"Poll" is a co-production between Germany, Austria and Estonia from 2010, so it has its 7th anniversary this year. Fittingly, there are also all kinds of languages spoken in here, so you will most likely needs subtitles, at least for some parts. The writer and director is Chris Kraus and it was his most recent work before the new movie "Die Blumen von Gestern". And just like that one, this one here also has a historic component, actually a really big one. The movie is set around the time when World War I started and the film's main character is played by the really young Paula Beer, who recently had a bit of an international breakthrough as well in the movie "Frantz". Anyway, back to this one we have here. I am not too surprised that there has not been another review on IMDb so far as it was not too great of a watch and I found the 7.0 rating (by 846 voters as of 29/01/2017) really too high. German film biffs will find more familiar cast members perhaps like Selge, Müller, Trebs, Steinhauer or Ritter, even if none of them are very big names. The movie was pretty successful at several awards bodies like the German Film Awards back then, where Richy Müller received the biggest honor of his career and the film also scored in several categories. These, however, were all wins that could justify this film being called a piece of style over substance and I think it is true. I did not find it a rewarding watch at any point, but thanks to the weak script it dragged on several occasions. The period of World War I has always been one that interests me less than World War II, but still the problem is not the bleakness, the problem is the overall uninteresting depiction of and elaboration on characters and scenarios that does not do justice at all to the tumultuous times over a century ago. Beer's talent is sometimes visible and there are moments when she elevates the material and script, but it is far from enough, especially taking into account that this one runs for over 2 hours actually. I cannot share the praise that some people have for it and I give it a thumbs-down. Not recommended.
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