Hunter's Bride traces the romantic rivalry between two veterans of the Napoleonic Wars who each vie for the heart of the same woman.

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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Franz Grundheber ...
Ottokar
Benno Schollum ...
Kuno
Juliane Banse ...
Agathe
Regula Mühlemann ...
Ännchen
Michael Volle ...
Kaspar
Michael König ...
Max
René Pape ...
Eremit
Olaf Bär ...
Kilian
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Hunter's Bride traces the romantic rivalry between two veterans of the Napoleonic Wars who each vie for the heart of the same woman.

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opera movie | See All (1) »

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23 December 2010 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Der Freischütz  »

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2.35 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Interesting film version of Weber's Der Freischütz
12 August 2015 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Der Freischütz is a lovely opera, the story is silly but still compelling, with the Wolf's Glen Scene being the highlight, while the music from the popular overture to the numerous memorable arias (Agathe and Ännchen's especially) is wonderful.

While the best version on DVD of Der Freischütz is still the 1968 Hamburg production with Edith Mathis and Gottlib Frick, Hunter's Bride is an interesting filmed version and one of the better versions (with the musically excellent but visually bewildering 2004 Zurich production being the weakest), even with its faults.

For me a better job could have been done with the hunting choruses, they are very well played (with terrific-sounding horns) and performed but treated as incidental to the story when they should ideally be part of, and the heart of, the drama. The chorus sound great, but were recorded in a venue that was indoors and echoey, which jars sometimes with the outdoor setting, and this is including in the hunting choruses. As admirable as the attempts at hyper-realism were, the film decides to keep characters like Max unkempt and unclean throughout which did seem a bit overdone, as if they'd never had baths in their lives and the skinning and hacking of animals didn't really fit the music and with the hunting choruses being reduced to background those moments felt unneeded. There is also a good deal of background noise, while it is in keeping with the realism Hunter's Bride is trying to show it tends to suffocate the music, so that it's not given as much presence as it could do, the Overture being one of the worst cases.

However, the film does look great. The period detail is handsome and evocative, it's well-lit (very atmospheric in the Wolf's Glen Scene), beautifully shot and the scenery is often breath-taking and as if you've been transported back in time to where the film and opera is set. The staging, with a mix of cinematic and how it would look like on stage, is mostly very effective, the drama is never dull and has emotional impact at the end. The film in particular comes to life in the Act 2 scenes between Agathe and Annchen, which have so much perky charm (Ännchen's Kommt ein Schlanker even has some funny moments) and in the goose bump-inducing Wolf's Glen Scene. Musically, it's of a very high standard. The orchestra provide some powerful, stylish and nuanced playing and always sound involved in the drama (a big shout out has to go to the terrific horn playing in the hunting choruses), while the chorus sing with an engaged and well-balanced sound. Daniel Harding's conducting is impressive, he accommodates the singers well (even in the very intense second half of Max's Durch die Wälder) while always giving the drama energy and intensity.

The performances in Hunter's Bride are also on the money. Julianne Banse really stood out as a beautifully sung (especially in Leise, Leise) and sympathetically acted Agathe, as did Michael Volle as a resonant and authoritative in voice and thrillingly demonic Kaspar. Michael König sings with a ringing tenor voice (Durch die Wälder is a heavy sing, but König didn't sound taxed by it at all with little hints of strain), and is suitably anguished as Max, being particularly moving at the end. Regula Mühlemann is the most age appropriate to her role of the principals and has a lovely appearance, but what was more important was how good a job she did with Ännchen and how she held up against the rest of the better-known cast, the good news is that she holds up just fine, her voice is bright and flexible without being shrill and she acts with lots of perky charm which was incidental to the success of her scenes with Banse. Rene Pape sounds wonderful as always and while he is not my favourite Hermit, or the most subtle one, he does a nice job with the role, while Franz Grundheber is a distinguished Prince Ottokar.

All in all, an interesting film that has some major flaws but does more right than wrong. 7/10 Bethany Cox


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