George Orwell wrote of poverty in 'Down and Out in Paris and London' "You thought it would be quite simple; it is extraordinarily complicated." Piel Jutzi, limbering up for his feature debut 'Mutter Krausens Fahrt ins Glück' (1929), attempts here to convey some of this wearying complexity in this dramatized documentary depicting a young unemployed Silesian coal miner's relentless downward slide into destitution. Hero Holmes Zimmermann finds sanctuary with attractive widow Sybille Schloß; but squeezed into her tiny home with her three young daughters any possibility of intimacy between them is promptly quashed (yet another of the hardships suffered by the homeless).
A central paradox of any documentary is that with the passage of time the patina of age renders much of the poverty it depicts picturesque (especially as in this case the action takes place in winter against a majestic backdrop of heavy snow: awful to experience but beautiful to behold); while the need to provide some sort of dramatic structure to the material results in the creation of an extremely melodramatic tragic climax.
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