Opening 20 Feb 2020
Writing credits: Jane Ainscough, Eric Knight
Principal actors: Sebastian Bezzel, Anna Maria Mühe, Nico Marischka, Bella Bading, Matthias Habich
Eric Knight wrote a short story about Lassie the collie dog in 1938. His book Lassie Come Home was published in 1940 and the first film appeared in 1943. Since then Lassie has become a permanent part of our culture starring in over 20 films and tv series. Now we have a new Lassie Come Home, which closely follows the original script of 1943. Florian (Nico Marischka) and his parents Andreas and Sandra have moved to a new apartment where dogs are forbidden, according to their annoying neighbor, Mrs. Müller. Florian’s parents already have enough problems: job loss, unfamiliar neighborhood, and a new baby on the way. Boarding out Lassie to Count von Sprengel (Matthias Habich) in his lordly manor near the German North Sea, seems to be the perfect solution, especially since von Sprengel’s granddaughter Priscilla (Bella Bading) is eager to care for a dog. Priscilla has much to learn about dogs, and, also about her grandfather: he is selling his manor due to bankruptcy; her father Sebastian is on business in Singapore; her mother died in an accident. To quote the film: “Dogs are always a comfort during difficult times.” As expected, Lassie escapes. While the two families, are involved in intensive searches, we follow Lassie’s adventures on his way to Florian in southern Bavaria, as he runs through the beautiful landscape, meeting up with various animals and humans, some helpful, some dangerous.
This is an excellent opportunity to let Lassie into your life. It takes a while to sort out the various characters and their relationships to each other, but the actors are wonderful, especially Nico Marischka as Florian and Justus von Dohnányi in a small role as the “chewing gum stuck on the sole of the shoe,” i.e., Gerhardt, the faithful butler of Count von Sprengel. Perhaps there are no real surprises; we know that he will make it across the full length of Germany. Personally, Lassie has always been a permanent part of MY life. I grew up with the original book, as well as several collie dogs all named—you guessed it: Lassie. More recently, my friend’s dog, Rügen, escaped from an unfamiliar neighborhood in Hamburg-Niendorf to turn up 16 hours later at his own front door. Dogs are amazing, including the dogs who played the role of Lassie in this family film for anyone six years and older. (Becky Tan)