Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fairy tales in German Cinema - a Movie Review by Robert Steven Mack

German cinema has always been of interest to me, particularly East German cinema. I have always pondered what the filmmakers were doing behind the Iron Wall. Preparing for an upcoming trip to Germany and hoping to brush up on my not-too terribly suffering German, my mother Diana, and I stopped by the Goethe Institute in Los Angeles. I often go to pick up knowledge on German cinema, or to just get a good German video. I have seen many and have thoroughly enjoyed all that I saw. Even though I don't fully understand all of it, I manage to follow the plot well enough to enjoy the film.

I am sorry I did not write about these films sooner for there are many that I'm sure would have appealed to your interest. This time I got a charming adaptation of “Rotkaeppchen”/ “Little Red Riding Hood,” an entertaining adventure based of the famed Grimm Brothers Fairy Tale. The second movie was “The Devil and the three Golden Hairs”(1977), and a classic children’s film “Die Geschichte vom Muck”/”The Story of Muck.” The latter two were from East Germany.

In “Little Red Riding Hood: or Rotkaeppchen, our naive little heroine has five mischievous little brothers that keep her and their tidy enduring mother on their toes. Little Red Riding Hood has a chance to get away from all the mayhem when her Grandma gets sick and she is to take food and wine to her. But while traveling through the forest, she encounters the Big Bad Wolf. The Big Bad Wolf was nothing more than a puppet, the kind you would see on an old 50's children s puppet show television program. Yet, it was whole-heartedly done without the slightest worry or fear the kids would say: "Wow, like that thing is so unreal, it’s just plain cheesy." Filled with quite imaginative sets and wholesome acting, this is the nicest, most refreshing Red Riding Hood film adaptation I have seen. The new “Red Riding Hood” movie will have to be a real winner before it can compare with this! The next film “The Devil and his three Golden Hairs” based on the Grimm Fairy Tale stars Dieter Franke as the devil. I couldn’t quite make sense of the story in the beginning, but I was soon captivated by the madcap adventure of a clumsy young man Jacob who must travel to hell and get The Devils three golden hairs in order to win his beloveds hand in marriage -or at least that’s what I gathered from it. The movie was released in East German theaters and American theaters in 1977. I enjoyed it and was satisfied with the film in its whole. It is a rude, loud, slapstick adventure that anyone is sure to enjoy! At least I had a good time.

The last film “Die Geschichte vom Muck” is a cantankerous story about a mischievous lad who brings turmoil to the kingdom and its people. You have to follow closely to enjoy this charming classic that portrays East Greman cinema at its best. It’s a masterpiece that certainly is worth the time to go out and get. If you understand German or are studying German cinema - plus English undertitle is available for The Devils Hairs and the Story of Muck (although the VHS I got did not have undertitles available)- I would highly recommend these films with or without dubbing.

Shortly, I will be making a trip to Germany and hopefully have a chance to see more German films.

Copyright 2011 by Robert Steven Mack (all rights reserved!)

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