15 April 2012 | TAEMO
This does not work because...
...the actor portraying Meister Eder (Hans Clarin) and the voice actor lending his voice to Pumuckl (Kai Taschner) do not go together very well. To make one thing clear, this is not the fault of Hans Clarin, his acting is solid, subtle and understated and it was there before any part of the Pumuckl-animation was done and before they dubbed in the gnomes voice. Therefore, the problem is the animation of Pumuckl and his voice actor. Another, although minor problem is the cinematography.
Firstly, the animation; ever since the last movie "Pumuckl und der blaue Klabauter" Pumuckl's animation lost its edge, which was that the gnome looked a little impish and mischievous without looking mean or evil, a little rascal so to speak. Starting with the last film, Pumuckl's appearance changed from this look to a friendly looking baby face without any hint in his facial expressions that there is a thinking brain and a mind behind his eyes that can on occasion be angry, mean and devious. Looking at Pumuckl in this film, you would assume he is just a monotone, dull and boring being without any wheels turning inside him. Though not only the appearance is not working, also Pumuckl's positioning within the frame is wrong most of the time. You never really get the feeling that someone is touching him, interacting with him properly or looking at him. That might be the reason that most of the scenes between Pumuckl and Meister Eder are played out in two different shots (action and reaction) rather than using two shots. The eye lines in the two shots almost never match. That is of course mainly the fault of the animation department, and partly that of the actor. In the 1980 TV show the interaction of Pumuckl and Meister Eder (Gustl Bayerhammer) is so convincing, they should have given tapes of the show to George Lucas to show his actors and animators how to act convincingly against thin air. Not only the eye line has to match correctly but also the focal point of the eye has to be right. This manifests itself in how wide an eye is open or closed. If we look into the distance, our eyes are open wide, if we focus on something right in front of our eyes, the eyes are much more closed, the pupils are a little closer together. The difference is only subtle but it makes all the difference in the world. The cinematography is very dark. If we are in rooms we can barely see the surroundings, just the faces of actors. Everything lies in shadows. This gives the movie a rather eerie quality something which could not have been intentional for a kid's movie. Maybe it was to hide something?
Secondly, the voice actor; Hans Clarin had voiced Pumuckl beginning with the audio dramas in the early sixties, the television show from 1982 to 88 up to the last movie in 1993 and the subsequent TV show. Because of problems with his vocal cords, he did not do the voice of Pumuckl in this movie and was hired to play Meister Eder. (Gustl Bayerhammer, the last Meister Eder, had died 1993 even before the last film was finished and so had to be dubbed over himself.) There is a rumor however that there is a version of the trailer for this movie featuring Clarin as the voice of Pumuckl and I would love to see it and, most of all, to hear it. By 1982 Clarin had nailed the voice. If you listen to the audio dramas the pitch of his voice is a little deeper. Hearing it, you would guess Pumuckl is about half a meter to a meter in size. When doing the TV show and Pumuckl's size was about 30 cm (one foot) Clarin lowered his pitch. Now in this film, the problem is not so much the voice of actor Kai Taschner, which if done right, would have worked as well. It is more his acting abilities, maybe the sound mixing. He always screams his lines; there is no subtlety to it. No lowering his tone in emotional scenes, it has always the same volume. This, combined with Clarin's subtle acting as Meister Eder simply does not match. You never get the feeling of true interaction, rather that of two performances done separately. Maybe it was the sound department's fault as well. You never really think that the two voices were recorded in the same environment, Pumuckl's is always louder. Then again, in the end, the director should have realized the problems and dealt with it.
To sum everything up, the actors are great; Ernie Singerl, Hans Clarin, Christine Neubauer and the boy actor, they all deliver. The story might be a problem, last Pumuckl outings always had a bad guy. The TV show never had a bad guy; it was always Pumuckl discovering the world. The biggest problem, and my comment covered that in great detail, is that of Pumuckl and his interactions with the world. This is the integral part of the movie. Imagine, if the interaction of Luke Skywalker and Yoda had not been convincing or that of Gollum and Frodo and Sam, the movies would probably have failed. This movie did fail, because it could not make Pumuckl a convincing part of the world.