Opening 24 Jan 2008
Director Peter Kahane has brought the German classic children’s book of the same title to life, and Zora fans will be delighted with both the production and the heroine, played to perfection by Linn Reusse in her first major film role. The script has been faithfully adapted from Kurt Held’s novel by Christian Zübert, Roland Kruschak and Kahane, and tells the tale of good and evil in a small fishing village on the coast of Croatia in the 1930s.
Zora is the head of a band of five boys, orphans whom she has saved from precarious situations, including Branko (Jacob Knoblauch), whom she manages to rescue from jail. The group, ages around 11 to 15, have made a home for themselves in an abandoned castle on a mountain overlooking the sea. The film was shot in Montenegro, and the scenery is awesome throughout. Branko is a boy with ideals who is appalled at the band’s only means of feeding itself – stealing from the village marketplace. But, very quickly it becomes clear who the bad guys really are: the wealthy fish wholesaler, Karaman (Ben Becker), who has purchased the police and Mayor Ivekovic (Dominique Horwitz) and is attempting to cheat the poor fisherman Gorian (Mario Adorf, in his usual competent performance). Although, in the end, the mayor, good politician that he is, catches the mood of the townspeople and ends up on the right side.
Zora and her band of boys cause Karaman as much trouble as possible, and when the band itself is in trouble, Gorian comes to their rescue. There is rivalry between Duro (an excellent David Berton) ,
who is drawn to Zora though she is oblivious to his attentions, and Branko, who is beguiled by Zlata (Nora Quest), the insipid blonde, violin-playing daughter of the mayor, to Zora’s dismay. Never mind, it all turns out as it should – a thoroughly charming film. (Adele Riepe)