DVD Michael Kohlhaas

DVD Michael Kohlhaas
DVD Michael Kohlhaas
Run time: 122 min
Rating: 6.2
Genres: Drama | History
Director: Arnaud des Pallières
Writers: Christelle Berthevas, Arnaud des Pallières
Stars: Mads Mikkelsen, Mélusine Mayance, Delphine Chuillot
In the 16th century in the Cévennes, a horse dealer by the name of Michael Kohlhaas leads a happy family life. When a lord treats him unjustly, he raises an army and puts the country to fire and sword in order to have his rights restored.
Plot Keywords: army, horse, 16th century, male frontal nudity, death
Country: Germany, France
Release Date: 3 January 2014 (UK)


  1. I do agree with one of the reviewers that this movie is not meant for a general audience. It avoids all the blockbuster clichés in order to focus on the essential – the story. It seems in fact to follow the style of Kleist's original novel – dry, understated. I find this approach very modern, it makes you think and feel instead of giving you pre-chewed material. And feel you do. I think the use of contrast between the action that is shown and how this action is performed is exceptional. When Kohlhaas's household goes on its first revenge campaign to the baron's house the killings take place in an absolutely silent, matter-of-fact manner, as if they did this every day (similar to the hangman at the end, except he DID do this every day, so to speak). And so it is with most of the movie. I think this also reflects the atmosphere of the middle ages – life was rougher, death, especially violent death, was more present. Children watched animals being slaughtered (well, there is only a mare giving birth in the movie). Life (and death) was more direct, more present. And although there is a lot of violence, it is off-screen. It is hinted at. The worst you will see is blood on hands and on a sword, that's all. I think this was a very judicious choice, if you think that violence has become commonplace in movies, almost banal. Mads Mikkelsen does speak with an accent, but it is an exaggeration to say that one doesn't understand a word. French is by far not my first language, but I did understand the dialogues. And then the director covered himself for this – Kohlhaas speaks with Jeremie in German, which shows that he is not French (so does his name). When the Princess comes to his house, she didn't come to apologize to the little girl. Rather, she came to see with her own eyes who this daring man was (she did come accompanied by a small army, so it wasn't a courtesy visit), and perhaps also to warn him that he might not be over it yet. This is quite clear if you listen carefully to her monologue, where she explains that a person of power (i.e. her) cannot afford to be either too forgiving or too cruel, so as not to come across to her subjects as either mellow or tyrannical. And then she materializes this philosophy of hers at the end: she renders justice to Kohlhaas in all respects – gives him money for the wrongs suffered, imprisons the baron for the wrongs done, shows the horses in question healed, and punishes the rebel, i.e. Kohlhaas. He does cry at the end. I think this is a quite realistic performance, even from such an emotionless character as Kohlhaas, because, I think, no matter how tough you are, I don't see how one can remain calm knowing that one will be decapitated in the following minutes. And although the film does not show emotions in characters, it builds emotion in the viewer – just think of the long preparation before the beheading. This scene made my blood freeze. So, this is not an action movie, but it works your adrenaline up by letting you interpret the understatements. It is not a bildungsroman either, so don't expect much character development. It simply describes a situation. You would say it is almost a story from the New Yorker. A quick hint for the end – if you liked Kubrick's Barry Lindon, you will adore Micheal Kohlhaas. I think the two films display the same sort of sensibility.

  2. It is on more than one occasion that German writer Heinrich Von Kleist (1777-1811) has turned out to be useful for French cinema. Firstly, it was Eric Rohmer who chose to make a film based on his work "Marquise d'O". After Rohmer, it is French director Arnaud De Pallières who chose to make a film based on one of Kleist most famous novellas "Michael Kohlhaas" with striking differences as instead of choosing a German style, he opted for a French setting in order to furnish Gallic touches to his film. The resulting film can be viewed from two angles which highlight the notions of equal rights and justice for all. From one angle, it is an ethical story which closely examines the concepts of good, bad, just, unjust, fair and unfair. It can also be viewed by many as a tale of revenge. The real Michael Kohlhass rose against noblemen of his times when his horses were taken and his wife murdered. There are not many critics who have commented upon this film's erotic elements as it has some passionate love making scenes. The role which religion played in all matters related to people and nobles is explained through the intervention of Martin Luther. His decision to support Michael Kohlhass suggests the say which religion had in legal matters. It is not only due to an ensemble star cast made up of French actors that Arnaud De Pallières' film "Michael Kohlhaas" gets a French look and feel but also due to its setting from which Cévennes region was chosen to film most scenes. For this reason, Arnaud De Pallières would be remembered for a long time to come as he has faithfully recreated old Prussia in Cévennes,France. Lastly, it needs to be stated that as a film "Michael Kohlhass" is 122 minutes of delightful, high quality cinematographic experience for which director Arnaud De Pallières had three great directors as inspiration : Werner Herzog (Aguirre), Akira Kurosawa (The Seven Samurai) and Andrei Tarkovsky (Andrei Rublev)

  3. This film is certainly not destined to large audiences. I don't think it will remain long on the big screens. It reminds me some french features such as LE FRERE DU GUERRIER, starring Vincent Lindon, or some other french films made since ten years. Films that are slow, rough, sometimes tepid, but very interesting and unusual, if you compare them to Hollywood blockbusters. This movie is dark and depressing at the most, but not as violent as you might expect. It's not IRONCLAD, FLESH AND BLOOD or BLACK DEATH. It's not a fairy tale either. So, don't misunderstand me, if you are not used to this kind of films.

    I love the ending. I find it exquisite. But that's my own taste.

    The gruesome actor Madds Mikaelsen who speaks in french in this film actually DID NOT UNDERSTAND ONE WORD of what he said. This is an information I got from a french website.

  4. French screenwriter, film editor and director Arnaud des Pallières' fourth feature film which he co-wrote with screenwriter Christelle Berthevas, is an adaptation of a novel from 1810 by German author Heinrich von Kleist. It premiered In competition at the 66th Cannes International Film Festival in 2013, was screened in the Open Zone section at the 24th Stockholm International Film Festival in 2013, was shot on locations in France and is a France-Germany co-production which was produced by producer Serge Lalou. It tells the story about a man named Michael Kohlhaas who lives on a farm in the Cévennes mountains in southern France with his wife named Judith and their children, and who one day whilst on his way to a nearby marked with some of his horses, encounters a local Baron who claims that he doesn't have a legitimate travel card.

    Distinctly and subtly directed by French filmmaker Arnaud des Pallières, this quietly paced and somewhat fictional tale which is narrated from multiple viewpoints though mostly from the protagonist's point of view, draws an increasingly introspective portrayal of a French husband whom after having given away his two horses to pay for a thought up fee and learning that they along with his long-time servant named César has been mistreated, contacts an attorney to claim compensation. While notable for its distinct, atmospheric and naturalistic milieu depictions, reverent cinematography by French cinematographer Jeanne Lapoirie, production design by production designer Yan Arlaud, costume design by costume designer Anina Diener and use of sound, colors and light, this character-driven and narrative-driven story which emphasizes characters rather than history and where the act of crossing a river turns into an act of crossing personal values and ruling powers, depicts a memorable and atoning study of character and contains a great and timely score by composer Martin Wheeler and The Witches.

    This densely biographical and eloquently dramatic reminiscence which is set in provincial France during the reign of King Francis I and the Protestant reformist period in the early 16th century, which reconstructs real events in the life of a German man named Hans Kohlhase and where an afflicted merchant and father of a son and daughter gathers an army and initiates a crucial rebellion which gains him the attention of the French princess named Marguerite d'Angoulême and a theologian who makes him question his methods for achieving justice, is impelled and reinforced by its cogent narrative structure, substantial character development, subtle continuity, good dialog, gracefully understated acting performance by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen and the noteworthy acting performances by French actor Denis Lavant, French actress Delphine Chuillot and French-Austrian actress Roxane Duran. A heartrendingly atmospheric, harmonically cinematographic and existentialistic narrative feature.

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