Written by: Johan Fundin on December 12th, 2006
Approximate running time: 93mins
Aspect ratio (Video format): Widescreen
Director: Hans-Christian Schmid
Screenplay: Bernd Lange
Cinematography: Bogumil Godfrejów
Cast: Sandra Hüller, Burghart Klaußner, Imogen Kogge, Anna Blomeier, Nicholas Reinke, Jens Harzer, Walther Schmidinger
A new take on the ‘Exorcist genre’ from German director Hans-Christian Schmid. Winner of the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for Best Actress in a leading role. Watch this amazing film and you’ll understand why young actress Sandra Hüller won the prestigious award.
21-year old Michaela Klingler (Sandra Hüller) has been brought up in a very strict and religious family. She has been mentally ill for some time and is taking medicine continuously, but the doctors never seem to find out what her problems are. Her occasional attacks resemble those of epilepsy, but the pills she is taking have no permanent effect on her recovery.
One day Michaela tells her parents that she has been accepted at a University in another town and intends to go. The Klinglers are not overenthusiastic and that saddens her deeply. The parents refer to “the thing” she has and that she needs constant care; therefore it would be unwise to leave for the Uni. The father though is the more caring and concerned while the mother is just downright ice cold. Anyway, Michaela goes ahead with her student plans and new life away from home, and her father is kind enough to drive her to the new town. He even gives her his old mechanical typewriter.
At the University, Michaela meets Hanna, an old acquaintance from high school with a taste for partying all night. The contrast between the two girls is like day and night but the lonely Michaela needs friends so she joins the wild parties. At one of the night-outs she is introduced to Peter who very soon becomes her first ever boyfriend. Life is suddenly exciting. Michaela’s new liberal lifestyle away from her parents’ despotic control seems to have a positive and maturing effect on her at first, but it is only a matter of time before her past, and her demons, catch up with her.
Michaela, who has believed in God all her life, is increasingly suffering from voices in her head and discovers that an inner force disallows her to say prayers any longer. Crucifixes and well as churches drive her insane. She sees the local priest, Father Landauer, in order to find the answers her shrink doctors are unable to find. Father Landauer is frightened out of his mind by Michaela’s sheer appearance; he becomes angry with her and shouts references in her face about medical reasons for her increasingly frequent psychosis. But deep down in his terrified soul, the priest understands that the young girl is possessed by evil spirits. There is a major task ahead for Father Landauer and his colleague, a young vicar: To drive the Devil himself out of Michaela’s body…
Forget the violence and gore choreographed exorcist movies by William Friedkin (The Exorcist) and Alberto de Martino (The Antichrist). Hans-Christian Schmid avoids all the easy clichés and brings the story down to a painfully emotional level. Throughout the film the ‘shaky-cam’ is used, often in combination with close-up framing. In action films (from Hollywood these days in particular) it is often disturbing when this camera technique is used too frequently, but in a powerful drama like Requiem the effect becomes an enhancement of intimacy. The ‘shaky-cam’ works perfectly. And at last but not least, the acting is absolutely superb overall, especially by Sandra Hüller as the possessed girl. If you want to experience an exorcist movie with a difference, then buy a ticket for Requiem tonight.