Sunday, August 26, 2007

9. Spring Symphony (1983)

SPRING SYMPHONY (1983) is a real odd film in the early career of Nastassja Kinski. It differs from nearly all of the other films she made at the time in that that it isn't controversial, nor unfortunately is it very interesting.
The film very much does seem to be a personal project for Nastassja as she had some involvement in getting it produced but it suffers at nearly every turn with flat direction, a dull supporting cast and poor pacing. SPRING SYMPHONY's biggest flaw though is just how much it under uses Nastassja, who is essentially featured in just a supporting role and the work goes for long, dreadfully dull, stretches without her appearing.
SPRING SYMPHONY was advertised as a look between Robert Schumann and his mistress Clara but the reality is that the film mostly centers on Schumann alone, who is portrayed a dull lifeless bore by German actor and rock musician Herbert Gronemeyer. Gronemeyer's filmography is very small and he is probably best known cinematically for his work on DAS BOOT (1981). The relatively inexperienced actor (who is also credited with the film's score) is asked to carry this film and he simply doesn't have the charisma or acting chops to do it.
Director Peter Schamoni worked consistently throughout his career on a number of documentaries and shorts to some acclaim, but his work here is as lifeless as his leading man. The film suffers majorly from his extremely erratic pacing and his poor script that often just relys on musical performances to pad out its running time.
Cinematographer Gerard Vandenberg had worked mostly in television and it shows here as the film's look is rather flat but thankfully the production design by Alfred Hirschmeier is well done as is some of the costume work.
Nastassja, who barely appears in the first half hour, is okay in her small role. As the part is woefully underwritten there was no chance of it being one of her more accomplished performances. Her piano recital scenes are strong though and it is obvious that she put a lot of work into making the playing look as authentic as possible. She looks lovely at the very least and her very presence gives the film more kick than it has any right to.
It is easy to see what would have attracted Nastassja to the film, as she is a huge music fan and it is a fascinating story. Unfortunately the screenplay by Schamoni feels like a group of disconnected scenes thrown together without much thought and it is regrettable as this film really could have been something special.
SPRING SYMPHONY remarkably one two awards when it was released including one for Nastassja at the German Film Awards and incredibly one for Schamoni at the Bavarian film awards.
This West German production played for a brief time in Europe in 1983 but wouldn't get a Stateside release until 1986. It remains one of the lesser films of the first half of Nastassja's career and is recommended only for hardcore fans. It is available in a bare bones dvd release, which at the very least offers the superior German track as an alternative to the old VHS's English dub.

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