The German intelligentsia in the days before the holocaust is something that now only lives in stories and philosophy books—when Berlin was the cultural and philosophical capital of Europe and one of the most cosmopolitan cirties. Amour Fou takes this world as its setting: a nineteenth century Berlin that feels more like Paris, full of aristocrats, political games, and esoteric upper-class pursuits, all painstakingly portrayed. The film is based on the life (and death) of Heinrich von Kleist and Henriette Vogel, a pair who made a suicide pact to prove that their love and devotion for each other was paramount. “Would you like to put an end to your life with me?” he asks to broach the subject.
Monday, April 13, 7:20pm
Wednesday, April 22, 2:30pm
Director: Jessica Hausner
Producers: André Fetzer, Ole Nicolaisen
Writer: Jessica Hausner Cinematography: Martin Gschlacht
Editing: Karina Ressler
Cast: Christian Friedel, Birte Schnoeink, Stephan Grossmann
Premiere: May 16, 2014 - Cannes Film Festival
But the metaphysical implications on mortality that seem inherent in the plot, delving deep into the nature of those connections between life, love and death, fall disappointingly short. Heinrich is not a tortured soul grappling with the pathos of existence as much as he is an arrogant sociopath eager to push the limits of human relationships to see how much he can manipulate women into doing things for him. The setting is exquisite, carefully detailing a lot about early 1800’s Germany (of particular interest are the political implications of a new tax levied on the aristocracy as well as the peasants) but the central character is so childish it all feels ineffectual. For a city that would produce some of the most sophisticated thought on the subject, in Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud, Amour Fou focuses on love and death as plot points in a costume melodrama rather than as the defining extremes of our cognitive and emotional lives.