"Buddenbrooks" and the low standards of sophisticated cinema in germany
It is by no means the case, as forest and meadow moths like to believe, that there are no capable forces for good films in germany. "They can’t do it anyway."We just don’t have the actors in germany," etc., etc., etc."Et cetera. There are many good people in all departments – costume, script, set, acting, book; people who know their craft, work carefully and are sometimes inspired. And they certainly existed in the production of "buddenbrooks," the 16-million-euro thomas mann adaptation. Nevertheless: "the ingredients were certainly all very good." was not to be taken as special praise in any restaurant.
All images: warner
When german producers want to make crude cinema, they like to succumb to a mania for completeness. In "downfall" the entire nazi leadership must appear, preferably with the complete german acting celebrities. In "baader-meinhof-komplex", the entire history of the raf is being hyped, also with a star-studded cast, whether it fits or not. And the 800 or so pages of thomas mann’s "buddenbrooks" have now been packed into a single film under all circumstances. Instead of stories, the focus is on themes, brands, names and, increasingly, on the use of all available means. The result – usually with the cooperation of bernd eichinger – is blobby, expensive cinema, preferably for the international market. From "the neverending story" to "krabat," from homeless productions such as "the haunted house" to "buddenbrooks. No one was ever allowed to remember any of these films with serenity.
To stay with the example: it is understandable that motifs had to be deleted in order to at least somewhat manage the mann novel. But if the plot is dabbled in as if it were a lappish tv series concept, then in the end it’s just a matter of somehow getting it done. The goal is only apparent completeness, the details are promised for the longer television catch. The second title "verfall einer familie" (decay of a family) is deleted so as not to overwhelm the viewers, the family saga is reduced to the bare essentials and the life of a 19th century lubeck patrician is spiced up wherever possible. Century where it is possible to do so. Because jessica schwarz, a modern, young woman, was cast as anthonie buddenbrook, this naive, tragicomic character in the novel is transformed into a brave, smart, languorous woman with a bit of destiny. Meanwhile, the bashful kiss on the beach turns into a passion with a virtual stormy roar. The pure milking.
Director heinrich breloer, according to reinhard jellen something like "the guido knopp of german studies", was probably considered predestined for the filming after his documentary "the manns". He could not have expected the prere he was under with the high budget, maybe he overestimated his acting skills. The production loved to build a very luxurious house for buddenbrook’s taste and to tailor very flowery costumes, and it was probably also considered a help to provide breloer with the actionist cameraman gernot roll. And that was the end of all subtlety.
It is hardly possible for the viewer to immerse himself in this saga. Everything is – in the belief that one can approach scorsese’s level through movement alone – panned, blended, mangled. The camera constantly indulges in the most absurd movements; when senator buddenbrook wavers, it wavers with him, and the noble staircase is insistently planted in the center of the picture (now we’ve built it, the people should see it too)!). Moreover, it is a fatal mistake to use close-ups in a plot that spans decades and should therefore show certain signs of aging of the characters, thus marking the eternal youth of the actors. One comes as little closer to the characters with this as with a few added explanatory sentences, with which august diehl as christian buddenbrock recites his feelings to the dead brother.
Renowned german cinema has the same effect as a "faust" production in a small-town theater. No one is in the mood for it, neither artists nor spectators. But it is just once again fallig, on the one hand for the numbers of spectators, on the other hand as educational burgeoning obligation. And when the tv stations involved now advertise their rough project, the contributors give serious interviews and perplexed german teachers send their students to the cinema, then everyone, probably even the producers, will again believe that they are dealing with sophisticated cinema. Then rather "madagascar 2.