Winter Journey

Director: Hans Steinbichler

Germany| 2005. Subtitled. Colour. Anamorphic. Dolby Stereo Sr. 96 min.

Inspired by German Romantic painting and Schubert’s masterful Winterreise song cycle, Winter Journey is a suitably melancholic and majestic story of a man in crisis, shot through with pitch-black humour. Sixty-year-old businessman Franz Brenninger (Josef Bierbichler) is a manic depressive. Cantankerous and offensive, he antagonises everyone he meets. His once successful business is in trouble and disaster strikes when he unwisely allows his bank account to be used as part of a financial scam. Absolutely determined to get his money back, Brenninger heads off for Kenya, where he comes face to face with his own demons. At times resembling an even more blowsy Gerard Depardieu, Bierbichler brings unlimited energy and expansiveness to the role. In his wide-brimmed black hat and overcoat, Franz is the kind of largerthan- life, inflammatory and ultimately tragic character that is an actor’s dream. There’s strong support from Hanna Schygulla as his longsuffering wife, but the film’s highlight is the masterful wide-screen cinematography by Bella Halben, which contrasts the cold, snowreflected light of Germany with the golden warmth of the African sun.

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