Kabale und Liebe [Intrigue and Love] (2005)

Kabale und Liebe is Leander Haußmann‘s adaptation of Friedrich Schiller‘s play, starring August Diehl, Paula Kalenberg, Götz George, Katja Flint, Katharina Thalbach, Ignaz Kirchner, Detlev Buck and Georg Friedrich.

Ferdinand (August Diehl), a young nobleman, and Luise (Paula Kalenberg), a musician’s daughter, are in love. Unfortunately both their fathers are not happy about their relationship. Ferdinand’s father the President (Götz George) wants Ferdinand to marry the local duke’s lover, Lady Milford (Katja Flint), while Luise’s father Miller (Ignaz Kirchner) just worries about her.
When Ferdinand refuses to marry Lady Milford, his father hatches a plan together with his secretary Wurm (Detlev Buck) who would like to marry Luise himself. They will try to separate the lovers by making Ferdinand insanely jealous.

I haven’t read the play (yet), so I can’t really judge this as an adaptation. But it works very well as a film. The story is good, Schiller’s language wonderful and the cast excellent. The soundtrack is very weird, though and the sets and costumes are only ok.

If you got Schiller as your source material and you got a strong cast that’s practically everything you need for a film to succeed. And this movie has both. August Diehl really shines as Ferdinand, Katja Flint was great as Lady Milford and Georg Friedrich gives us a perfectly whimsical Hofmarschall. Only Paula Kalenberg stays a little colorless but that might be more because of her role than anything else.

The strong morale of the story might not be to everyone’s taste (I know it wasn’t to mine) but it’s well-made and effective. I found it really interesting that in this play, it’s Luise’s belief in Ferdinand that ultimately dooms her [and his insane jealousy, of course] whereas it’s usually the mistrust in the person they love that dooms the lovers in such plays.

Anyway, since more than half the battle was already done, Haußmann had it rather easy. But he does a good job setting everything in scene and paces the story excellently. Despite the rather classical set-up, he gives the whole production a rather modern feel. There’s also surprisingly much humor in this film.

Unfortunately the soundtrack is a bad mistake, featuring songs that are rather grating and that won’t fit with the rest of the film. The sets don’t work too well either, seeming too spare and actually fake. But these are small things – the film remains enjoyable.

Summarising: Very watchable.

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