7 May 2002 | Mort-31
Twenty years before "Jedermann"
Only a few hours before I saw Fritz Lehner's newest work, the epic and impressive `Jedermanns Fest', the Austrian television showed an earlier Lehner film, `Schöne Tage' on the occasion of Franz Innerhofer's suicide. Innerhofer, the author of the book this movie is based upon, had just killed himself at the age of 58.
I had read the book and I knew it was highly autobiographical, so I was not too surprised about a man like him committing suicide. The story of a young boy being treated badly at a 1950s farm, was extremely shattering. Unfortunately (though understandably), Innerhofer told it in such an aggressive way that I got aggressive too when I read it and thought, he had better told it to his psychotherapist rather than to me. However, I was surprised by the movie, which was much, much better than the book. It is long (two and a half hours) and it takes its time to describe rural life in Southern Austria at the respective time. Characters are given a chance to develop, the movie doesn't show any unnecessary cruelty, still it doesn't play down the book's shocking topic. All the actors are amateurs, or more precisely: regionals of the area where the film is set (I think it is Carinthia).
I also had the chance to compare this film to `Jedermanns Fest'. Lehner seems to like working with an amateur cast and he doesn't seem to care a lot about the audience realizing this. The lack of talent in the models in `Jedermanns Fest' is rather annoying, but here, where reticent farmers are portrayed, it doesn't matter at all. A major difference between the movies is, that although `Schöne Tage' is set in the picturesque Southern Austrian landscape, Lehner is much less anxious to capture the landscape than in `Jedermanns Fest', where one might not expect images of this kind.
This is one of a handful of cases, where the film version surpasses the original book by far.