Saturday, November 11, 2006


REQUIEM (2006, Germany, Hans-Christian Schmid, Bernd Lange)

A restrained and understated treatment of the same events that inspired THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE, dramatizing the tragic exorcism in 1976 of a young German university student whose "demonic" manifestations may have been supernatural in origin, or may have been some form of epilepsy. The fascination of the Derrickson film lay in the interaction between the director's Christian convictions about the reality of evil and genre expectations raised by fictionalizing the story in the guise of a commercial horror pic. Though also fictionalized, REQUIEM sticks much closer to the historical events, employing a matter-of-fact cinematic style that elicits more sorrow than terror, resulting in a sympathetic psychological study that refuses to come down on either side of the natural / supernatural debate, leaving the viewer with the same agonized perplexity one might experience in the face of such events in real life. Both films are anchored by stage actresses in breakout turns: Jennifer Carpenter delivers a body-blow physical performance in the title role of Emily Rose, while Sandra Hueller's tightly contained uber-naturalism as Michaela Klingler won her the Berlin Festival’s Silver Bear. A rigorous, heart-breaking film: if not exactly faith-affirming, still highly recommended.


VIFF 2006. Oct 20 2006: Limited release


Morefield said...

I'm curious as to your assertion that this film stays much closer to the historical events. Is this claim based on research of the historical events? The beginning of Requiem says "inspired by" rather than "based on."

Just curious.


Ron Reed said...

Good point, Ken. I ought to dig back through my notes and flesh that out a bit. Certainly both films "fictionalize" the original story. The sense that I had in reading about the two treatments is that Derrickson and his co-writer allowed themselves more latitude to create a new story as it suited genre, thematic concerns, etc. Shifting the story's setting to present day North America would be the most obvious example of their looser treatment of the materials. But I'll see if I can turn up some specifics.

(By the way, Ken, it's curious to find your posting here today immediately after posting my USHPIZIN write-up, which links to your review. It's a MAGNOLIA world, my friend!)