Opening 13 Apr 2023
Writing credits: Adrian Goiginger
Principal actors: Simon Morzé, Karl Markovics, Adriane Gradziel, Joseph Stoisits, Marko Kerezovic
The Fox is a true, bittersweet story about Franz Streitberger’s journey into manhood. In 1927, the large Streitberger family eke out a living farming in Austria’s mountainous Pinzgau Region. The youngest, Franz (Maximilian Reinwald), and Mutti (Karola Maria Niederhuber), worn out from childbearing and meagerness, share the last bits of supper nightly. Franz falls ill pressuring his father’s (Karl Markovics) decision to reduce the strain on the family. The distraught six-year-old’s last glimpse of home, carried by the rich neighbor (Alex Stein), is of Mutti firmly closing the door.
Ten years later, with Austria’s annexation, the Austrian Army motorcycle courier, Franz (Simon Morzé), is drafted into the German Wehrmacht. Quiet and withdrawn, Franz hovers outside the soldiers’ natural comradery until his embarrassing, nugatory attempt to join-in sends the quick-tempered Franz dashing into the woods. There he finds an orphaned kit fox; feeling a kindred spirit, he takes it under protection. Because of his unobtrusiveness and work, the kit is concealable. There is an analogy between its natural growth and their relationship. When his battalion enters France, few are aware of Franz’s adoptee; the French Marie (Adriane Gradziel) marvels at their bond. Prior to a major offensive the reality of Franz’s past come to bear on the present dilemma, opening a window into his suppressed anger, and the possibility for healing.
Austrian writer-director Adrian Goiginger serendipitously taped his nonagenarian great-grandfather’s stories, then arduously whittled down the 200 plus page screenplay to create Der Fuchs. Told in the first person, Goiginger cast Morzé who “amazingly” committed to the two-years needed for learning the now obsolete Salzburg dialect and wean four wild foxes from birth. Goiginger laughingly says, “Never again!” He attributes the kit fox to mentally saving his great-grandfather and keeping him safe. The “crazy, horrible time” of World War II, and someone’s personal revival is personified by Yoshi Heimrath’s cinematography, Simon Blasi’s realistic editing, and the sound department’s omnipresence inconspicuous soundscape accompanied by Arash Safaian’s music. More important than the destruction and vulgarities of war is the humanity and salvation of these two creatures’ salvation. (Marinell Haegelin)