Saturday, June 4, 2016

Coup de Grâce (1976)

Serious Movie time! And you can't get anymore serious than a black and white German movie from the seventies, directed by Volker Schlöndorff (The Tin Drum) and staring his then-wife and fellow director Margarethe von Trotta (Marianne and Juliane).

This film is stark and dark tale set in eastern Europe right after World War One, as German troops battle Soviet Guerrillas during the Russian Civil. This being a Serious Movie, there are suppressed and expressed passions, stuff breaking, people dying, gorgeous visuals and snow.

It's also a rare time to see a woman smoke a pipe. Pipes are like cigars; one's so used to seeing men use the phallic things that it's an utter shock when a woman does it. An old Roma woman in The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) smoked one, but other than that, my mind is drawing a blank when it comes to other examples of cinematic women using this handy signifier of wisdom.

But back to Coup de Grâce: it's very dreary, but very rewarding, in the way good Serious Movies are: compelling, nice on the eyes, and stimulating to the brain.

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