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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Schultze Gets the Blues
Schultze Gets the Blues
Paramount // PG // August 30, 2005
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Svet Atanasov | posted August 31, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
E X T R A S
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A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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The Film:
When Schultze and his friends finally retire from the local mine life suddenly loses the excitement they have enjoyed for years. What is left are lonely walks to the local pub, pointless games of chess, and the occasional polka gigs in front of an over-appreciative crowd which Schultze has been asked to perform on his accordion for years. Late at night, alone in his big and empty house Schultze would drag his weary feet to the fridge, have a piece of cheese, and occasionally listen to his radio. He would then sit on his couch and drift away in a sea of pleasant memories.

One night, after a friendly chat with his fellow beer-connoisseurs Schultze is deeply moved by an Amerikanische Melodie broadcast by the local radio station. He grabs his favorite accordion and the polka which he has been performing for the community year after year is quickly replaced by the most unusual sound a German accordion would produce-Zydeco. At first Schultze is confused, even scared a bit, as he is unsure if it is a healthy sign that a man his age would replace his polka with an Amerikanische Melodie. After a quick visit to the local hospital, however, and a reassuring confirmation that he is not mentally sick Schultze returns home full with excitement. He has just decided that during his next gig at the local pub he will substitute the polka with the Amerikanische Melodie from the radio.

However at the city's pub the local polka-aficionados are barely impressed with the new creative direction Schultze has adopted. Even his closest friends are confused, surprised, and perhaps a tiny bit shocked by Schultze's performance. Heart-broken and misunderstood Schultze places his accordion in the jagged, slightly battered, case and heads back home. For Schultze the town now seems, cold, grey, and most certainly unfriendly.

When Schultze's friends, however, announce that he has been chosen by the local community to represent the city in a music festival in Texas it seems like fate has decided to give the reformed polka-player another chance. Schultze quickly packs his most needed belongings and heads to the Promised Land. But what will an overweight senior German who barely speaks a word of English carrying an old and dingy accordion do in the heart of the American South?

A very simple yet charming film directed by German auteur Michael Schorr Schultze Gets The Blues offers plenty of laughs and food for thought. Superbly photographed the story often takes off in a direction quite different than what one would expect from a standard comedy depicting the life of a group of senior Germans. As a result Schultze Gets the Blues impresses with its honest approach towards our dependence on friendship and the way we struggle to be accepted by the communities we live in.

Superbly performed by Horst Krauze the character of Schultze is a unique reminder that for those willing to live their dreams age can not be an obstacle. The film delivers a very convincing message without glamorizing the old cliché claiming that dreams are worth living for. In fact, I believe that anyone that sees Schutlze Gets The Blues will find a different meaning in this exquisitely crafted film. Some will appreciate it for its simplicity others will possibly find the humor in it most appealing.

Perhaps the most surprising quality that one will discover in Michael Schorr's film however is the deep meditative character of the storyline. And how strange is that when this is supposedly a comedy that is meant to put a smile on our faces? There are long moments in Schultze Gets The Blues where dialog is completely omitted. At times it felt to me as if Gus Van Sant has kindly offered a hand with the camera work while Wim Wenders has assisted with the script. The long camera shots especially the ones from Schultze's trip to Louisiana are sublime.

What an enormously human film, simple yet so effective! I often have a hard time connecting with characters that tend to be so introverted they barely allow anyone inside their own struggle to remain sane. The character of Schultze however completely defies all expectations you might have had just by looking at him and his accordion in the beginning of the film. You will truly feel rejuvenated after the end credits roll. Schultze Gets The Blues carries that special magic that true cinema is meant to convey.

*Schutlze Gets The Blues is the winner of the German Film Critics Award for Best Feature Film Debut (Michael Schorr); the San Marco Special Jury Award at the Venice Film Festival; and was nominated as European Discovery of the Year during the European Film Awards among many others.

How Does the DVD Look? Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and enhanced for widescreen TV's Paramount Pictures have delivered a good and decent print of Schultze Gets The Blues. While occasionally there is some visible grain on the print (that exceeds that typical amount of film grain we associate with stellar prints) and there are a few instances of noticeable edge-enhancement overall the quality of this DVD presentation is acceptable. Colors are natural, flesh-tones decent, and contrast appears largely well-handled. I believe that those that are highly demanding of their DVD's quality will be satisfied. Optional, very light yellow English subtitles are provided for the main feature. On a side note: Not to be overly picky however during one particular scene I noticed very minor suspicious blurring which was detectable on my progressive set. (*Please note that al screen caps in this review are media-shots and are not directly taken from the existing DVD).

How Does the DVD Sound? A German 5.1 mix has been provided for this DVD release and I am fairly happy with the presentation. Music and dialog are well separated and the soundtrack is fairly active through the center and rear speakers. Throughout the film where silence is prevalent balance is handled very delicately.

Extras: There is an excellent commentary with the director Michael Schorr, in German with optional English subtitles, which I encourage you to listen to-quite funny and interesting. In addition, there are three theatrical trailers for the main feature and a reel of other upcoming productions from Paramount Pictures.

Final Thoughts: A warm, touching, and extremely human film that I can not recommend highly enough Schultze Gets the Blues is a pleasure to behold. With an all around stellar cast that knows what they are looking for and how to achieve it this is a film that should clearly make your Top 10 list this year. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!

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