Abschied von den Eltern [Farewell] (2017)

Abschied von den Eltern
Director: Astrid Ofner
Writer: Astrid Ofner, Hans Hurch
Based on: Peter Weiss‘ autobiographical novel, translated as Leavetaking
Cast: Sven DolinskySelma BindewaldColine CisarAnna ConradiNora ConradiSven HorstPeter NestlerJohanna SchmidtLawrence Tooley
Seen on: 19.8.2017

Peter Weiss (Sven Dolinsky) grew up in the 20s and 30s. The death of his parents inspires him to revisit his childhood and youth, and reflect on his coming-of-age, as a man, as an artist, as a member of a half-jewish family in a Europe with fascism on the rise.

Abschied von den Eltern is an interesting cinematic experiment, both as a film and as an adaptation of a novel, but I was more impressed with the text than with the film.

I stumbled into this film pretty much by accident, but I don’t need a whole information to decide to watch a film by a young Austrian woman, so Abschied von den Eltern got its chance, even though I knew nothing about Weiss or the film.

It didn’t take me long to get into the film, although it is rather unusual in the way it goes about adapting the text to the screen: actor Sven Dolinsky reads the text as we see him trace back the steps and locations Weiss talks about in his text. Ofner also adds photos of Weiss and his family, thoroughly mixing documentary and narrative, much like an autobiographical text is bound to do.

I liked that way of adding film to written text instead of enacting the written text on screen. But I also have to say that I lost interest in the images presented pretty soon and focused completely on the text (and that even though I usually can’t focus on spoken text at all). Dolinsky reads its well, and it is a very strong text that I’m very interested in reading it now.

But it does feel like a bit of a wasted opportunity that the film can’t transform the interesting concept and idea into a film that works on both the text and the visual level. If the text hadn’t been as strong as it is, it probably wouldn’t have worked at all. But at the very least it’s an engaging experiment.

Summarizing: tries a lot and doesn’t achieve it all, but it’s worth giving it a try.

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