Opening 12 Feb 2009
This work depicting 19th century German society has frequently been filmed before; the last version was by Rainer Werner Fassbinder 34 years ago. The film is based on Theodor Fontane’s masterpiece Effi Briest (script by Volker Einrauch). This epic romantic novel dates back to 1894, and it is one of the standard classical works read in German high schools.
Award-winning actress Julia Jentsch (Sophie Scholl, 2005) stars as the free-spirited daughter Effi Briest. Born into an aristocratic family in Northern Germany, the 17-year old girl is pushed by her parents to marry Baron von Instetten (Sebastian Koch) and to live a lonely life in a small town on the Baltic Sea. To make matters worse, her husband, nearly 20 years her senior, is a former admirer of her mother (Juliane Köhler). He often leaves his young wife alone, pursuing his business career in Berlin. It is no small wonder that the bored and inexperienced young woman falls for the charming and good looking Major Crampas (Misel Maticévic). For the first time, she learns what love is. When her husband is promoted to Berlin she leaves the small village – and Major Crampas. At last, Effi comes to terms with her marriage and enjoys her new surroundings. But brutally, the past catches up with her.
Hermine Huntgeburt, the first female director of this remake, offers a fresh and modern look at the historical source, changing the ending of the novel and approaching it with a contemporary perspective. The heroine Effi Briest is not beaten by life – powerfully performed by Julia Jentsch – but deals with the consequences and bravely faces a new beginning towards emancipation. (Birgit Schrumpf)