Affairs of Dr. Holl (1951)

Approved   |    |  Drama



7.1/10
22

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3 wins.

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30 June 2013 | marcin_kukuczka
8
| Simultanous In Style and Emotion
This rather unknown and production by Rolf Hansen stands out as a unique and far from stereotypical example of German post war cinema. Seemingly influenced by dramatic moods and intense musicality, it seems to heavily rely on great sources and timeless parallels evoking transparent styles simultaneously. One of such sources is, undeniably, the 'link' between death and sleep. Nowhere does it depict a stronger resemblance than in the peculiar, almost alienated, emotionally pious character of angelic Angelika Alberti.

Played by young Maria Schell, she is the incarnation of simultaneous emotions that blend 'heaven on earth' with romantic bliss, sorrow with joy, hurt with reconciliation. Maria Schell gives a tremendous performance being almost 'knitted' to the cinematography and musicality of the movie. Although the opening sequence may draw viewers to rather negative assumptions about her health, with the image of Christ, such intensely meditative images like candles and cross, supply the backdrop with certain hope. Yet, the most captivating moments come when her physical suffering turns into mental. A patient deeply in love with her doctor: yes, the title Dr Holl.

Portrayed by Dieter Borsche, he is a very intriguing protagonist of the entire movie. His legacy of heart appears to be torn apart, bleeding within the work of sacrifice and love. From the moment he makes an important and an almost miraculous discovery as a young doctor, there are two women in his life: Helga (Heidemarie Hatheyer) and Angelika. Can he make the right choice? Can his candle fade away? Can he manifest his inner self? How can he behave when the real bitterness comes?

Among the supporting performers, a mention should be made of Carl Werie as Alberti, Angelika's father. Being partly shadowed by the aforementioned characters, he has his unforgettable moments in the second half of the movie that really touch the duality of his situation. Tonio and Anna, a couple more carefree, more genuine, more youthful are also memorably played by Marianne Koch and Adrian Hoven (both names played a great role in the cinema of the times).

Apart from performances, I would like to make a brief note about little details that, in a way, heavily influence the holistic perception of the film. First, it is the symbol of the candle that I have already mentioned and which, interestingly, parallels to the characters and the storyline itself. The candle here stands as giving oneself away, as sacrifice, as passing time and seizing the moment of genuine love, here and now for this bliss of the moment might not return in future. At the same time, it is the lovely reference to Christ's sentence "The girl is not dead, she sleeps" - where the candle keeps this flame of love alive...and yet, the flame is shadowed by certain circumstances. Speaking in more cinematic terms, there are hardly any other objects which play so well on the screen than the burning candle.

Some scenes rely on world cinema, referring even to the years of silent era. In one scene, Maria Schell embraces a bunch of flowers in more or less the same fashion as Garbo did in Clarence Brown's A WOMAN OF AFFAIRS; in another moment, rough sea and waves echo Sjostrom's 1921 masterpiece THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE; the railway station sequence where Helga sits upset makes us think of Tolstoy. The musicality of characters echoes many great classics of Hollywood. Everything, however, is provided with an optimistic touch along with the jubilant conclusion at the reconciling end.

An important film to see, surely worth your search.

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