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SIFF 2009, Day 21

June 11, 2009

The Conversation
(1974) Dir. Francis Ford Coppola

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My mother is just a little movie obsessed and as soon as VCRs became widely available, we had one. It wasn't long my mother was quickly amassing a huge library of movies. And in the late 1970s, much of that collection were blackmarket copies with Arabic subtitles or atrocious quality, simply because the movies were not yet available commercially. Central to her collection was anything and everything that Harrison Ford is in. Thus The Conversation is a movie that I've seen many times, although, I had always been far too young to really appreciate the film. So I was very excited to see that SIFF included a screening of this classic, which was probably selected because this year, Coppola has another film that played at SIFF, Tetro. One of my favorite things about The Conversation is that it is one of those movies that stands up well to repeated viewings. Everytime I watch it, the ending means something completely different.

But there's no way I'd attempt to write here about The Conversation, when plenty of other, better writers have done so.

Krabat (2008) Dir. Marco Kreuzpainter

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And after The Conversation, we attending a screening of probably the biggest German production of 2008, Krabat. It was based on a book of the same name by Otfried Pressleur (English translation title: The Satanic Mill) which I have heard described as the German Harry Potter. It has been a very popular book in Germany, that many people read as a child and while Krabat is definitely a fairly tale, it is a very dark one.

Krabat is set in Europe just after the Thirty-year's War and the beginnings of the Plague. Krabat (David Kross) is an orphan due to the plague and is begging with a small band of children when he begins to have strange dreams. These dreams, along with a flock of crows, lead Krabat to a mill where the Master (Christian Redl) is waiting with a meal, a bed, and an apprenticeship. As Krabat does his work at the mill, he learns that he and the other 11 boys that work there are there to learn more than just how to opperate the mill. They are also apprentices in black magic.

Krabat is befriended by Tonda (Daniel Bruhl), and it is from Tonda, that Krabat begins to learn of the sacrifices that are made for being a part of the mill. The Master does not allow the boys contact with anything outside the mill and they will be killed if they are fall in love with any of the village girls. But this isn't the only sacrifice. The Master is also prolonging his own life by sacrificing one of the boys each year.

Krabat is an absolutely mesmorizing film. It looks like a big budget, Hollywood movie. The cinematography, music, and production are amazing and not at all typical of the films seen at the Seattle Independent Film Festival. The special effects are well done and are also not over used or too flashy like in too many American movies. Krabat is simply a very good, albeit, very dark adventure story that I found to be wonderful. I am now very curious about the book, which has been translated into English, but is out of print.


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