A graduation movie!
28 April 2010
The movie starts out with a lot of historical information given through subtitles rather than through dialog. This feels like an economical way to save screen time since this is a short film and it had to be one because of monetary reasons(at least so I heard). Then we are introduced to our two protagonists, Jakob Feister (Benjamin Kramme) and Carl Sand (Christian Nähte). And from there the movie moves on on a very high pace and it almost feels rushed. As if writer director Andreas Jaschke wanted to cram a feature of two hours in a short film of fifty minutes. And not only that; More characters are introduced constantly, the girlfriend of Jacob Feister, the plot's target August von Kotzebue, the ambitious policeman who tries to foil the conspiracy, his superior, the father of Jakob Feister, who is not pleased about his son's theological studies and his plans to marry an improper girl, and at last the leader of the Unbedingten. We have every character that we would find in a feature and and it feels a bit much. It would have been a lot better to only focus on one character, only one point of view and instead we have three or four. Furthermore, we have every scene that we would find in a feature, for example an establishing scene that shows the mood among the students towards the Unbedingten, a scene to establish the lovers, one to establish the plot, one to establish the conflict between Jakob Feister and his father, the subsequent decision of Jakob Feister to join his friend Sand to Mannheim to kill Kotzebue. The official synopsis says, that Jakob is frustrated about his father's denial to marry Luise and thus decides to join Karl. But this is not conveyed by the movie, at least I did not get that this is what triggered him to go to Mannheim. At the end of act two we even have a love scene, which I think is handled very well. The lovers have fun in bed, it is not just a montage of beautiful images. She even wants a second time, maybe to make him stay awake long enough so that he would eventually oversleep the next day. And in the fact that Luise does that lies a little problem, only a liittle one. If one reads a synopsis of the plot it always says: Die Unbedingten is about radical students Carl Sand and Jakob Feister and their plot to kill writer August von Kotzebue. Having just watched the film my synopsis would be: Die Unbedingten is about Luise, a stout-hearted girl, who embarks on trip through Germany to prevent her boyfriend from doing something stupid and ruining his life. But hey, there is nothing wrong about that, Anne Kanis as Luise does a wonderful job, her character is totally believable. She steals every scene she is in, even though the camera does not treat her as the main character, since she was not intended to be the main character (I guess). Nevertheless, the Luise character carries the plot, very refreshing, not at all stereotypical but that goes for the rest of the characters, too, for example Feister's father helping Luise and Sand calmly accepting Feister's refusal to come along instead of flipping out. (Which surprised me personally, because Christian Nähte has a tendency to over(re)act in his roles. He even went mad during the film's shooting, because some extras were a little too eager to throw him out of the lecture hall. Maybe this was good direction) Maybe the whole story should have been told mainly from her point of view. Das Wunder von Bern was not mainly about the soccer worldcup but about a father and his boy. So it might have worked here, too. But i think a a student of film one has to show his teachers that one can handle multible storyarcs, multible characters, multible motivations that eventually merge into one. I wonder if this was criticized by the film school's teachers or if they liked it.

Certainly they like the editing, for example the dinner scene in father Feister's house. First a closeup of young Feister looking at his girl friend, a closeup of her, a closeup of the father, and the wide shot saved to the last. I also like Sand's walk to Kotzebues front door, his point of view shot, the music, the staging of the killing, Sand talking very shyly. All scenes are staged well, you follow the characters, you want to know more about them, but again, the story feels all rushed. Maybe there is too much plot for 54 minutes. They should have given him the money for a feature, to flesh out the characters, some plot points and this part of German history. It would have been interesting to learn more about Germany in the 1820s because normally only the 1000 years between 1933-45 are depicted in movies.

The camera work, although I like it (the establishing shots of the cities are pretty cool), feels a little anachronistic and too modern, but I think the DP wanted to show what he can do, since the movie was his graduation, too. I think a simpler camera work ala Sachrang would have better suited the movie, its direction, and the story.

Anyhow, i like the movie and I would really like to know what grade the director got for his work.
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