In fact, this movie won the Swiss film prize in 1998. A non Swiss might wonder why, but we know: There was nothing better around to give the prize to. Das Schweigen der Männer (The Silence of the Men) is, mind you, a technically accomplished movie made by a true craftsman, with professionally set up scenes and a beautiful images. Unfortunately, however, it is only partly watchable, but still not entirely without merits. It conveys some true insight into the Swiss (men's) psyche (but who on earth cares for that?)
The key word here is Cervelat. It is a popular cheap Swiss sausage (not unlike Lions Sausage) for summer salads, a barbecue or for taking along on a hiking trip. In the last case you cut a deep cross into each end of the sausage with a Swiss army knife, sharpen an improvised spit with said knife and roast the sausage on it over the open fire until the divided ends of the Cervelat start to curve (a classic family outing experience for almost every Swiss kid - process can be seen in this movie). So Cervelats are part of our cultural heritage. And actors, singers TV people etc. whose fame are constricted to tiny Switzerland are known as the Cervelat Jet Set.
The two main characters in this movie go on a hiking trip, one of them is a professional actor, the other is the Godfather of all Swiss dialect rock stars and a full fleshed member of the Cervelat Jet Set. They both play themselves as hikers, and the movie is therefore more like a documentary than a plot oriented affair. The first part is a short movie about a Swiss hiking paradise (Gemmi) which was made a few years earlier. Added to it are later episodes in Southern Italy (Apulia) and Egypt (Cairo, the Nile and Luxor, I believe). Interspersed are a few moments of the Rock Star's open air life concerts (during a power failure).
It is quite daring to improvise a movie consisting of disjointed events and episodes and without a coherent script, like it seems to have been the case here. It has to rely heavily on the wit and skills of the actors. In the case of the professional actor this works quite well, in my opinion. He is quite capable of shooting off impromptu remarks about Switzerland, women, sex, places with the best sausage salads and life in general. It occasionally made me laugh pretty hard. The rock star is not an actor and shows plainly that you should prepare for your part, even if you play yourself. The chemistry between the two, they seem to be old friends in real life, is not bad, though.
Part of the movie is in English, as the actor meets two women who are also hiking. He thinks they are Swedish. The exchanges in a language which is foreign to all concerned comes off quite well and is at times funny. But sometimes I just hoped that the movie would be truer to its title and that the men would simply shut up.
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