Movie Tip: A Very Dashing Genius – “GOETHE!”

15 October, 2010 at 11:29 pm 2 comments

Some say I find a  nautical link in everything I write about, and I’m beginning to fear that it’s true. This time, it’s Emma Lady Hamilton, and if I say that she crossed the path of a genius in Italy, you’d probably take Nelson for 500, wouldn’t you?

WRONG!

I’m talking about Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. He was a guest at Lord Hamilton’s house and witnessed one of Emma’s performances:

“The performance is like nothing you have ever seen before. With a few scarves and shawls she expressed a variety of wonderful transformations. One pose after another without a break.”

What Da Vinci was for his time, Goethe was for his. Interested in a million things, brilliant and gifted, he was one of the most important personalities of the 18th century. So I guess you’d be delighted if I’d write a lengthy article now about Weimar Classicism and lawyers, right?

I thought so. Very well, have a movie instead:

“GOETHE!”

The story: Young Goethe is not yet the successful poet and writer that he’d eventually become, and he’s only reluctantly studying to become a lawyer. His father, upset with his son’s attitude, sends him to live in the province and become a civil servant. But life in the country is not that bad, after all, for Goethe meets a young woman – Lotte. He’s falling madly in love with her, especially as she encourages him to follow his dream and become a poet.

What Goethe doesn’t know: Lotte is already engaged to his superior, Kestner, and so the tender love between Goethe and Lotte is doomed.

Yes, we can see the attraction.

It is thought that this episode in his life inspired Goethe to write his novel “The Sorrows of Young Werther”, which was a  huge success and caused “Werther Fever” (today we’d probably call it “fan craze”) and the first known examples of copycat suicides.  It was also responsible for a very early example of fanfiction – author Friedrich Nicolai wrote “The Joys of Young Werther”, “in which Albert, having realized what Werther is up to, had loaded chicken blood into the pistol, thereby foiling Werther’s suicide, and happily concedes Lotte to him.”


“Goethe!” opened yesterday, and I hope I’ll find the time to watch the movie and post a review very soon. I think it’s pretty safe to say that this is not going to be the “100% historically accurate biography of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe”  but rather “18th Century Costume RomComDrama”. Now, I’m all for historical accuracy, but this will probably get more people into the cinemas and maybe interested in Goethe than some dusty biopic. Plus – dashing men in 18th century garb, how could I resist?

Excellent actors have been casted  – Alexander Fehling as Goethe, Moritz Bleibtreu as Albert Kestner, Burghart Klaussner as the father of Goethe’s love interest Lotte Buff (Miriam Stein) and Henry Hübchen as Goethe’s father, so at least in the acting department, I trust that I won’t be disappointed.

The German-speaking readers of this blog will very likely appreciate the following screencap as much as I do – I consider printing a poster…

WATCH THE TRAILER

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Entry filed under: 18th century, art, books, movies. Tags: , , , , .

… and “Garrow’s Law” extras again… Trafalgar – the 13 year-old Veteran

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. esteven  |  8 November, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Can I enthuse some more? I went to see it a second time, and loved it even more. I will definitely get the DVD as soon as it is out.

    Indeed, it is more of an 18th century romcomdram, than high literature put on screen, but if you know a bit of Goethe, there are some charming allusions and plays on word, if only Lotte’s reply to the future Werther publisher when asked “Ist dies denn Wahrheit?”. Her reply “Es ist mehr, es ist Dichtung!”

    Alexander Fehling is charming, irresponsible and as arrogant as only youth can be until he meets Charlotte. Miriam Stein’s Charlotte is self-assured, independant, forward; everything you do not expect from a young woman of that period. Still, she bows to her father’s will.

    Mind, one cannot but like the fathers. Burghart Klaussner and Henry Hübchen turn in solid performances. Yes, Vater Buff has no money and wants his eldest daughter to marry well, so that she and her siblings will be cared for. Yes, Vater Goethe wants his wayward son to become a good lawyer. But they try their best, and you see their love for their children shine through.

    And…you will adore Charlotte’s little brothers and sisters.

    *slinks away again*

    Reply
  • 2. Bob the Chef  |  10 March, 2011 at 10:13 am

    “Da Vinci”? Oh my, how uncouthe! Leonardo is the correct usage. You betray your pretensions, little one.

    Reply

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