24 April 2019 | TheLittleSongbird
Good behaviour for reward
The twenty fourth story from the first volume of Brothers Grimm's 'Kinder- und Hausmärchen', 'Frau Holle' may not be one of my favourite stories or fairy-tales, being one that was introduced to me when quite a bit older rather than being one of those growing-up-with stories. It is however a very interesting story from a thematic standpoint and teaches good and important lessons that are valuable and relevant today still. Do like it very much, especially for the titular character who is very memorable and iconic.
DEFA's 1963 version of 'Frau Holle' is one of a number of a fairy/folk tale adaptations made in East Germany, some better and more popular than others but they are worth the look and better done than most fairy/folk tale adaptations, regardless of their age. 'Frau Holle' is not one of the best of them, do prefer 'Heart of Stone', 'Three Wishes for Cinderella' and 'The Singing Ringing Tree' for examples, but it is still nicely done and follows the original closely and with respect.
It takes time to get going and there are times where it did feel on the stagy side, sometimes feeling more of a filmed stage version.
Although suitably spiteful, Katharina Lind overdoes it a little as Pechmarie.
However, it is a nice-looking, if very simple, adaptation of 'Frau Holle'. The production design is suitably rustic and colourful and didn't look simplistic, while it is beautifully shot in colour that never looked too drab or garishly gaudy. Budget limitations show at times but not in a way that looks amateurish. The music didn't feel at odds with what was going on and fitted while not always enhancing.
Writing doesn't become too cheesy or camp, while being fun enough to stop the treatment of the story from being taken too seriously. When it got going, the story had immense charm and was engaging, it was easy to follow without being too simple and nothing childish or too scary. It is a respectful as an adaptation as is the spirit, even if at times dramatically it could have had a little more kick in spots. Generally it didn't feel too long, with 'Frau Holle' not being as slight as other fairy-tales so there is more story in it, and scenes didn't feel padded out.
'Frau Holle's' characters are immensely engaging. Identified every step of the way with Goldmarie and Frau Holle herself is both benevolent and mysterious. Much of the acting serves the adaptation well, especially Karin Ugwoski as Goldmarie with Mathilde Danegger also the embodiment of Frau Holle. Elfriede Florin is an appropriately nasty step-mother and doesn't overplay too much.
Summing up, a worthwhile watch and a good way to introduce one to the story if one doesn't know it already. 7/10