This is the kind of film that usually comes from the English or the French… not the Germans. Let’s face it, Germany is not known for a stable of modern intellectual comedies. If you need a beer, or a fine automobile, you go to the Germans. If you need an entertaining art film, you go to France. Still, this is a film that bucks the trend… and will hopefully start a new one.
The Schultze of the title is a retired German miner that finds himself lost in his newfound abundance of free time. Eventually,…he turns to his accordion playing as a release from the banality of everyday life. This pursuit eventually leads him to discover Louisiana Zydeco music, and his world is turned upside-down. If you have seen About Schmitt, then you are on the right track with the tone of this film. Personally, however, I preferred this picture much more than the Jack Nicholson vehicle.
This is a fantastic film that is even better than the word of mouth that it received during its brief stint in American theaters. This should easily have received the same popularity and critical acclaim that was garnered by The Full Monty, and it would have were it not in German. If you are one of those who are turned off by subtitles, I strongly urge you to give this one a shot. Dialog is sparse, so the investment is not too great.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that this disc actually has quite a lot to demonstrate in the audio department. This is one of those films that is not afraid of silence, but has its fair share of loud moments as well. The contrast between the two allows for a surprisingly full range of sounds.
So often, foreign films get a poor audio treatment. Maybe the belief is that if you can’t speak the language, there is no reason for the audio to be dynamic… a belief that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Sound quality is always important, no matter the style of film. It is really refreshing to find in this foreign film a simply amazing audio presentation. Sounds travel around the room, volume levels are produced accurately, and everything is so spectacularly clear! Many American films don’t sound this authentic.
The video quality also exceeds that of most foreign films. Often times, I wonder if all foreign cinematographers attended the Gordon Willis school of cinematography. His work in The Godfather was spectacular and genre-defining, but not every film should come across in those dark, brown sepia-esque tones. This piece breaks the mold as it is filled with brightness and color. This is a piece that tells much of the story through the visuals, making picture quality paramount.
It’s not all beer and pretzels, though, as there are some problems with edge enhancement that may annoy those that watch this film on a large display. In fact, the whole of the image seems to have a slight problem with clarity. Nothing major, of course, but there is a bit of a nagging problem with jagged edges here and there.
After sitting through a short anti-piracy commercial, viewers are treated to a wonderful selection of trailers for films that I have never heard of, but all look simply fantastic. I will gladly seek out films such as Mad Hot Ballroom, Apres Vous and Enduring Love after seeing these trailers.
The only extra that pertains specifically to the film itself, is a commentary track. I am sure that it has happened before, but it’s pretty rare to fins a subtitled commentary track, which is what we have here. Still, though… if the director doesn’t speak English, what can you do?
The most honest and heartfelt review that I can give is simply that this film just makes me smile. When a film can bring about a truly genuine emotion in the viewer, that is really something special. Connecting with the lives of other people, and truly understanding a filmmaker’s vision, is something that is all but lost in many popular films. This is one of the good ones.
Special Features List
- anti-piracy ad
- commentary (in German with English subtitles) by writer/director Michael Schorr