Written by: Pieter Boven on September 26th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Germany, 1988
Director: Robert Sigl
Writer: Robert Sigl
Cast: Dóra Szinetár, Brigitte Karner, Károly Eperjes, Hédi Temessy, Barnabás Tóth, Katalin Sir, Zoltán Gera
DVD released: January 26, 2001
Running time: 80m10s
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 non-anamorphic widescreen
Sound: German, English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono / German Dolby Digital 5.1
DVD Release: e-m-s
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (Germany)
Retail Price: 5-7 EUR
The Film :
Laurin, a little girl, lives with her parents and grandmother in a quiet harbor village at the turn of the 20th century. When Laurin’s mother witnesses the murder of a young boy, she is killed herself. From then on Laurin is plagued by visions about her mother, a man dressed in black, an ancient castle ruin and a black dog. When her best friend Stefan also disappears, Laurin decides to investigate. Will she find Stefan and discover her mother’s death was not an accident? And what is the role of the town priest and his son, the new teacher?
The movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 but the original ratio is probably 1.85:1 as can be seen in the trailer and also reported by IMDb. The transfer is not anamorphic and interlaced so ghosting and shimmering is present. Colours are muted, detail is mostly absent and the image has a noisy, dirty look. On the positive side there are virtually no blemishes except some reel marks. According to the DVD label this was the best source element available. Very disappointing.
Besides another one of those pointless 5.1 remixes in German, there’s a German and English dub in dolby digital 2.0 mono present. The movie was shot in English but dubbed over later since most of the actors didn’t speak English and phonetically mimicked their lines. The English track is slightly better but none of them are very good. There are optional German subtitles, normal and hearing impaired ones. Both have several colours to represent different speakers, which is kind of annoying.
We get a decent looking animated menu with a scene selection consisting of 20 chapters. Quite a few extras are present, but unfortunately all of them are in German only. First of all, there’s a theatrical trailer (2m19s) which looks much better than the actual movie. Next we have an interesting interview with the director (16m26s), several deleted scenes (19m01s) in horrible quality, the director receiving the 1988 Bavarian Film Award (2m39s), an old making of (9m36s) seemingly produced for TV, 2 photo galleries with pictures taken on the set and the entire isolated soundtrack. The latter consists of 16 tracks in dolby digital 2.0 mono, which are separately accessible but there’s also a play all option. Also available are several cast and crew text biographies which are also read out loud by a voice over. Finally there are 8 old press reviews and trailers for 2 other unrelated movies. Another nice inclusion is the prompt view menu, which lets you access everything on the DVD from 1 menu screen. Please note the DVD was re-released in a normal keepcase with the cover you can see here. The first version came in a jewel case and that cover is shown in most online stores.
A gothic horror fairytale is probably the best description for this German movie, although it doesn’t really belong in either of those categories. Also don’t expect any gory violence or nudity. What the film does have is style, atmosphere and a fairly unusual soundtrack. It’s maybe reminiscent of Lemora and Valerie’s Week of Wonders due to its supernatural theme and a young girl in the main lead, but more accessible than Valerie and a lot better than the overrated Lemora.
Although this German DVD is a major let down in the audio and video department, its current low price and ample amount of extras, provided you speak German, make it an easy recommendation. A much more expensive DVD is available in the UK but I didn’t find any reviews.