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