November 20, 2011

lush history: Goethe!

"It is love that holds the world together from the inside."  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

What Shakespeare is to the national pride of the English, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is to the Germans. The only difference is the whole world knows about Shakespeare while not so many beyond German-speaking countries are familiar with Goethe although I suppose his break-out beyond German speakers work was "The Sorrows of the Young Werther", kind of a pre-extentialistism oeuvre in the Romantic period, inducing young men everywhere (those who could read of course) to moan, weep and be generally melancholy about love and life. This film deals with the period in Goethe's life when he wasn't too lucky in love. (It didn't stop him from moving on to become an all-around universal talent - a German Leonardo Da Vinci of sorts - more than enough adventures for a sequel.)

"Young Goethe in Love" is the let-everybody-know-what-this-movie-is-about English translation of the originally titled "Goethe!" film. Directed by Philip Stoelzl, the film's tapestry is dense and merrily chaotic, immersing us in 1772 with lots of lovely little details spread thickly across the canvas.  The actors are all pleasing to the eye and romp through the 18th century with gusto. If one uses a fashion analogy - it's kind of like a merger between Christian Lacroix and Jill Sander - opulent and classically streamlined at the same time. Somewhat reserved in spirit in parts, the physicality of living in the 18th is best described using Proust (he was describing a madelaine): "an exquisite pleasure invaded my senses." Absolutely. I will go with that.

The director comes from theater and opera doing costume and production design, later broadening his scope to music videos (Garbage "The World is not enough", Madonna "American Pie" the bigger names he worked with) He is a very intense guy -  he was one of the close contenders for an ad I was producing a few years ago. Very well prepared and extensive technical knowledge of special effects.  I always liked his work and champion his efforts.

Worth a Saturday or Sunday afternoon on a cold autumn day. Playing at theaters in German with English subtitles in New York and Los Angeles.

movie trailer of "Young Goethe in Love"

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