Saturday, October 31, 2009

Comedian Harmonists

Comedian Harmonists; Drama, Germany/ Austria/ USA, 1997; D: Joseph Vilsmaier, S: Ulrich Noethen, Ben Becker, Meret Becker, Heino Ferch

Berlin, '27. Jew Harry lives in a shabby apartment and decides to organize a singing group based on the American role-model "The Revellers". He gets 5 members, among them Collin and Cycowsky, creating the "Comedian Harmonists". Despite difficulties and failure, the six of them manages to appear on stage and attract attention. Soon, their career becomes really successful, until the rise of the rise of the Nazi regime since three of them are Jews. They even go to New York while Harry admits his love to Anna. In '35, the group falls apart when the Jewish members have to leave.

Biographical drama "Comedian Harmonists" is a good, but too standard film. From the opening, in which the curtains are raised and reveal the group on stage, director Joseph Vilsmaier takes a distant approach towards the characters, since the 3 out of 6 members of the group are pure extras. The character of Harry ended up becoming the most developed ones, mostly because of his ironic attitude towards the fact that he is a Jew in Germany during the 30s ("You know what race the Jews are? Semites. And Germans? Antisemites."), whereas the story crafts a few predictable solutions for such a genre, among them the moment where a Nazi officer asks for his autograph. Sadly, the events and situations are too mild while the surprises are too few, which is why the film, as a whole, is solid, but routine piece of cinema.


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