Buddenbrooks – another Movie

Went to the cinema last night. “Buddenbrooks”, based on Thomas Mann‘s novel, and the third or fourth time someone tried to put it into pictures – directed by Heinrich Breloer this time.

It’s a big book squeezed into some 160 minutes or so. To my surprise, it seemed to work. I’d think so, anyway. The movie rushed through the whole chronology pretty fast, but not too fast. The script dumped the oldest generation described in the novel, one little sister, a legacy-hunting pastor and many other hightlights. Originally homeric events are screened in a nutshell, but just the more augmentatively. And in contrast to both the novel and an eleven-hours tv play of 1979, it reduces the Buddenbrooks to just another provincial patrician family which no longer comes across as larger than life, but still as a showcase of an era, and as a spectacle of economic and social change (and fear of it). The 1848 Revolutions, basically just an element of comedy in the novel, is taken much more seriously by Breloer, too. So are societal constraints.

The movie is a robust re-interpretation of the old classic novel (published in 1901), and that’s always a daring enterprise in this conservative country. The movie has already drawn criticism, even from one of its main performers, Jessica Schwarz. Maybe she didn’t have a good time making it, but I had a good time watching it.

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