Das finstere Tal [The Dark Valley] (2014)

Das finstere Tal
Director: Andreas Prochaska
Writer: Martin Ambrosch, Andreas Prochaska
Based on: Thomas Willmann‘s novel
Cast: Sam Riley, Paula Beer, Tobias Moretti, Thomas Schubert, Carmen Gratl, Clemens Schick, Helmuth Häusler, Martin Leutgeb, Johannes Nikolussi, Florian Brückner, Gerhard Liebmann, Erwin Steinhauer, Hans-Michael Rehberg
Seen on: 22.8.2016

A stranger (Sam Riley) arrives in a small village in the mountains. The villagers are suspicious. They don’t know anything about him, they don’t want him or his new-fangled photographic apparatus there. But the stranger who calls himself Greider is not to be dissuaded. He wants to stay over winter. After the six sons of the wealthiest farmer in the village give their okay, Greider is allowed to stay with Luzi (Paula Beer) and her mother (Carmen Gratl). Luzi is about to marry Lukas (Thomas Schubert), but something isn’t quite right there. And it is obvious that Greider has his own motives as well.

The Dark Valley was really successful and got some great reviews, but honestly, I don’t get it. It was boring, confusing where it wasn’t obvious and took some seriously misguided steps in the soundtrack department. Disappointing.

dasfinsteretal[Vague SPOILERS]

Setting a Western in the mountains in winter is kind of a novel move and certainly one of the film’s selling points. I’m not much of a Western fan, though there are a few films in that genre that I enjoy, so I don’t get that much out of the film’s transposition from the (US)American deserts to the European alps. In theory I like it, but practically I don’t care one way or the other.

Apart from that change of scenery, the film doesn’t have that much to offer that isn’t completely clichéd. The silent hero on a quest who saves everybody and then leaves, almost as mysterious as before. The weird lonely village with strange customs. And then of course that pretty much the entire film makes do without women – they are really just there to be (threatened with) rape, so that Greider isn’t just out for revenge but his surprisingly violent actions get a noble touch. Bleargh.

dasfinsteretal1And then there is the scene that is set to the Steaming Satellites’ Witches. I love that band. I love that song. But I have rarely ever seen a scene that is so much at odds with the music it is set to. It threw any remaining tension (and admittedly that wasn’t much) out the window for me.

It is pretty obvious that this film was neither made for me as a woman (the film is too preoccupied with pitting two kinds of hypermasculinities against each other at the cost of everybody else, especially the women that serve as either well-treated or maltreated objects), nor as a Western non-lover. If it had been, I might have liked it – the moody images and the good cast are strong points in its favor. But apparently it wasn’t to be.

dasfinsteretal2Summarizing: I couldn’t love it.


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