Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Thomas Mann Collection |
Buddenbrooks / Doktor Faustus / The Magic Mountain
Actors: Carl Raddatz, Katharina Brauren, Martin Benrath, Ruth Leuwerik, Armin Pianka
Directors: Franz Seitz, Hans W. Geissendörfer
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1929, Thomas Mann was honored for a body of work that began with his first novel, Buddenbrooks, and whose other milestones included The Magic Mountain and Doktor Faustus . These t... more »
The only DVD release that contains the complete Magic Mounta
Adam | Chicago, IL | 06/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This review is mainly about The Magic Mountain mini-series (2 DVDs) starring Christoph Eichhorn as Hans Castorp, Marie-France Pisier, Rod Steiger, etc. It's ironic that the complete series was finally released on a Region 1 DVD in North-America. This is the only way (apart from occasional rebroadcasts on German tv stations) where you can watch the entire mini-series in three parts as originally intended. There exists a Region 2 German release which contains a drastically edited film version of just 146 minutes as opposed to the more than 5 hour duration of the 3 parts originally. You can imagine how much had to be cut away and how it didn't do justice to the novel or the original film adaptation. The only positive thing about the Region 2 release is a bonus documentary.
Back to this Region 1 release, I only watched The Magic Mountain in its entirety and the picture quality is excellent, the English subtitles are there (optional), and the packaging is done nicely (separate for all three films). I wouldn't have picked those menu stills that the studio did (not sure if they read the novel before) but it's the content that matters.
I have yet to watch the Buddenbrooks (11 part mini-series) and Doktor Faustus. This DVD is highly recommended to students of German Studies and is an excellent addition to any library collection."
Yes, it's worth it!
Julie M. Vognar | Berkeley, California United States | 09/19/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Buddenbrooks (10 ½ hours); Dr. Faustus (177 minutes); The Magic Mountain (over 5 hours): the color is excellent throughout, and the sound crystal clear. The subtitles are all legible, and the few mistakes made won't ruin your experience.
"The Magic Mountain," my least favorite of the three novels---is a great. great film. The casting is perfect (especially Castorp, Behrens, Peeperkorn, Clavdia, Settembrini)--but everyone, to the smallest bit player, so inhabits the sanitorium spirit and his or her part, that one forgets to compare the film to the novel. Castorp's first day (the film begins right in the middle of it), Carnival (!), the x-rays, the banging door, Castorp's walk in the blizzard, Ziemsen's death, the duel between Naptha and Settembrini--all great. The setting is magnificent, too.
"Buddenbrooks," the longest serial, is excellent. Most, but not all, of the acting is top-notch; the costumes and the buildings (my God! The buildings!) are perfect, and you will enjoy comparing the film to the novel, and noticing little differences (feeling SO superior!). The leitmotif of the nurse, walking the narrow alleyway of houses to the broad street where Buddenbrooks live--it happens three times--to sit at a deathbed: Mann would have loved it. The older men, Thomas, both Hannos and Kais are particularly good. The use of Plattdeutch is faultless. (LATER: Having seen the 1959 "Die Buddenbrooks," and read an extensive review of the 2008 "Buddenbrooks" by Breloer--I'm sure this is the best one that will ever be available, anywhere...in another 20 or 30 years, there will not be enough interest to make a fourth--and I also feel my cavelling criticsms of this one were were undeserved. It's just as good as "The Magic Mountain.")
"Dr. Faustus,"the shortest (Mann's most complex novel!), seemed a bit rushed to me occasionally. But many things are there (the film is called "Pictures from the life...." not "The Life, etc."). Kretchmar, Schleppfuss, the devil (in a great stroke of casting, the devil and Schleppfuss are played by the same actor), Schwerdtfeger (my, such a familiar face) are especially good. A motive is seriously misplaced for a time (but how many notice it in the book?); there is one addition...Mann would never have quoted that, then! The film does not do the book justice, of course--but then--how could it? If you buy this collection, it should be mainly for "The Magic Mountain" and "Buuddenbrooks," but "Doktor Faustus" is a good introduction to the book, at least.
BUY IT! If you can afford it. "Ist das noetige Geld vorhanden/ ist das Ende meistens gut"...
(I must apologize for this review. Seeing that four others had reviewed the 18 1/2 hours of film, I assumed my review would appear at the bottom, not the top. It is not very helpful as a first (actually last!) review for someone condsidering purchasing the collection....but I ain't gonna do it again!)"
Great Set of Thomas Mann's work and of German Cinema
Walter O. Koenig | San Diego, California, USA | 08/10/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD set contains films of three Thomas Mann Novels:
"Buddenbrooks" (1984) directed by Franz Peter Wirth 11 hours long, in 11 parts - 4 DVD's
"The Magic Mountain" (1982) directed by Hans W. Geissendoerfer 5 1/2 hours long in 3 parts - 2 DVD's
"Dr. Faustus" (1982) directed by Franz Seitz 2 hours long in 2 parts - 1 DVD
All three were serialized and made for German television in the 1980's, a time of re-discovery of Thomas Mann's work. They are all top quality, especially the first two.
"Buddenbrooks", follows the fortunes of a wealthy and politically powerful Merchant family in the Baltic city of Luebeck from about 1830 to 1880. The film captures the details of the 1800's very well and is true to the novel in narrative, action and dialog. It is a beautiful production and was a very successful mini-series in Germany. The sets and locations are beautiful and great care was taken to reproduce the clothing
"The Magic Mountain" was more difficult to film due to the nature of the novel. Is is not a straightforward narrative like "Buddenbrooks". It is the story of young Engineer's visit to a Sanatorium in Davos, Switzerland in 1907 that was supposed to be three weeks long and which stretches to seven years. Of the three films it is my favorite. The Director, Geissendoerfer also wrote the screenplay that quotes directly from the novel about half of the time. The other half of the dialog is skillfully adapted. The film skillfully conveys the senses of isolation and time. Many of the characters are cast almost perfectly such as the lead, Engineer Castorp, Madame Chauchat, Settembrini, and the director of the Sanatorium, Dr. Behrens. Rod Steiger is a great surprise as Mynheer Pepperkorn, a character based on the german writer Gerhart Hauptmann. Steiger even looks like Hauptmann.
My least favorite in this set is "Dr. Faustus", the story of a man obsessed with music and of the results of his obsessions. I think it is flat and over-dramatized. Also the acting is not as good as in the first two films and the budget was much less. I doubt anyone would buy this seven DVD set for this film alone. Part of my opinion may be that it is also my least favorite of the three Thomas Mann novels, but then in all fairness "Buddenbrooks" and "The Magic Mountain" are difficult acts to follow.
The set does have some problems. The transfer to the DVD's is not sharp and is often murky for all three films. The color also seems faded. The sound could be clearer as well. Luckily I do not need to use the subtitles, but these are at times terrible either because they do not convey part of the dialog or because they do so incorrectly. For example at one point in the "Magic Mountain" Hans Castorp makes reference to Madame Chauchat's wedding ring, "Ehering" in German, but this translated as earring. This error does make a difference in understanding the story. It is because of these faults the set gets four instead of the deserved five stars.
If you enjoy Thomas Mann's work I can certainly recommend this set, especially so if you have read the novels. It made me read "The Magic Mountain" again.
Review by Walter O. Koenig"
The bliss of the (un)commonplace
Doug Anderson | Miami Beach, Florida United States | 08/28/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
At 324 minutes, this transliteration of Thomas Mann's psycho-sexual-socio-politico odyssey, The Magic Mountain, is a mesmerizing experience. Magic Mountain tells the fin de siecle coming-of-age story of Hans Castorp--a young engineer fresh out of school who has yet to gain a sense of himself or of the world around him. Possessing neither genius nor ambition, Hans has nonetheless succeeded well enough in school and is destined to succeed well enough as a shipbuilder. But before he begins a professional career that he chose only because it seemed practical enough, he decides to visit an ailing cousin, Joachim, and spend a few weeks with him at the world famous Berghof Sanatorium that is tucked away in the Swiss Alps, high above the ordinary world that he quite willingly leaves behind. When we join Hans he is traveling by train through the mountains and fondly dreaming about a past attraction. Since Hans has no definitite sense of himself or what he values or desires he is highly susceptible to outer influences and the suggestions of others. This impressionability and penchant for daydreaming/fantasy will play a key part in his odyssey.
Once he arrives at the sanatorium, Hans immediately feels the undeniable allure of the location, the exquisite architecture, the eccentric clientele, and the indolent carefree way of life (patients spend their days lounging on deck chairs that overlook a pristine mountain range lined with majestic firs). The sanatorium is really more like an exotic spa. Some of the clientele are truly sick (evidenced by the almost daily removal of coffins), but others seem to be there for less specific reasons. What unites them all is that none of them seem to know what they want from life and this quality makes them each unfit for the goal-oriented drudgery of middle class existence. The sanatorium provides all of these unfinished types with a sanctuary, but a sanctuary that is also a kind of finishing school for the unfinished. Each character may be seen to be engaged in their own private odyssey and this makes the sanatorium not only a sanctuary but a hothouse of philosophic and sexual experimentation, speculation and intrigue.
Although Hans is only supposed to stay a few weeks, the world of the sanatorium -- which is a world that seems to exist outside of time (and much is made of the way we experience time differently when subjected to new routines) -- is a perfect fit for him and so he finds it simply too alluring to leave. So when Dr.'s Behrens and Krokowski (the former a physician, the latter a psychoanalyst) who are not only trained doctors but also expert at keeping their holistic health care facility at full capacity, diagnose Hans with tuberculosis, these physic and psychic "experts" give 24 year old Hans the excuse that he needs to retire from the world before he has even begun to live in it. In the culture of the spa, illness is not equated with failure, rather it is equated with sublimated desire and unfulfilled wishes (an equation fostered by Dr. Krokowski who lectures on the subject). The day one is diagnosed with an illness is the day one is freed from bourgeois responsibility and routine and the day one becomes a member of an effete social elite (this sense of exclusivity, of false nobility, is fostered by Krokowski but also by the patients themselves). Philosophically, Hans is drawn to (though does not always know whether he agrees with) the ramblings of the outlandish humanist Settembrini who preaches a liberal doctrine of enlightement, free will, and progress and whose meditations on the difference between the irrational indolent east and the rational industrious west seem particularly ripe in this location where everyone has surrendered their free will and deferred judgement to a couple of questionable experts and where indolence and irresponsibiity is the rule. Although Settembrini might distrust irrational things like music and love and anything that excites and awakens the irrational impulses and emotions, Settembrini himself does not always seem to practice his doctrine of pure reason and progress. Like the others, he has chosen to remove himself from the world and live in the safety of the sanctuary instead of acting on his oft-professed beliefs.
Adding to the overall allure of the Berghof Sanatorium is the presence of the magnificently beautiful Clavdia Chauchat. At first sight Hans is smitten by her and thereafter his every waking and sleeping hour is haunted by her. Hans hears rumors that she feigns a recurring illness so that she can spend her time flirting in various sanatoriums and shirk the responsibilities of adult life. This both repulses and attracts the always uncertain Hans. Hans nonetheless lives for their chance encounters...
This is an incredibly rich viewing experience. The locations alone cast a spell that cannot be resisted. And the narrative itself unfolds as if it were a slow luxurious dream, tenuous and delicate. You will view this gilded and delerious world as Hans does, and, like Hans, you will feel that this is a world that you do not want to leave.
The last 100 minutes are much more accelerated and much more fragmented than the elegantly paced first 224, and are thematically dominated by the ever increasing threat of war. Clavdia's new "traveling companion" Mr. Peperkorn (Rod Steiger), Krokowski's theatrical seances, and Settembrini and Naphta's (Charles Aznavour) escalating philosophical debates all reflect growing discontent with current realities and growing desperation to find new ways to cope with those realities and/or new ways to distract oneself from them. The crass and ill-mannered egomanical charlatan/visionary Peperkorn arrives on the scene espousing earthy life embracing-and-affirming notions one minute and prophecies of impotence and doom the next. Despite their ability to keep up a grandiose and elegant front, Hans begins to see that Peperkorn and Cladvia are simply bound by a mutual fear of inner loneliness. Krokowski continues to exploit the fears and desires of others with his extravagantly staged seances in which he evokes the spirits of the dead. And, finally, Naphta challenges Settembrini's liberal values (which he sees as grossly tainted by capitalist imperatives) and believes anarchy is the only way for man to find out what he truly believes. When the two philosophers fight a duel it would seem that an entire age is at odds with itself and bent on self-destruction. Once Germany begins fighting Russia, the clients of the sanatorium must leave and the days of gilded delerium vanish in the chaos of World War I. The narrator gives us no definitive ending, but suggests that the outlook is not good for Hans Castorp."