Stefan Ruzowitzky actually comes from hard genre cinema. His choice as director for the Hermann Hesse classic DAFFODIUS AND GOLDMUND But it only seems unusual at first glance and proves to be an absolutely obvious choice over the course of the almost two-hour medieval drama. We reveal why in our review.
Goldmund (Jannis Niewöhner) and Lene (Henriette Confurius) enjoy their fresh happiness. Still…
The plot summary
After being deported to a monastery by his violent father, young Goldmund (Jannis Niewöhner) devotes himself entirely to faith. Narcissus (Sabin Tambrea), who is the same age, takes care of the young student behind the walls of Mariabronn. The hard years of apprenticeship and the regular beatings from the teachers bond the two boys closely together. This friendship will continue even when Goldmund decides to leave the monastery walls and discover the world. While Narcissus continues to believe in God, Goldmund goes in search of his mother and gets to know women, love and his passion for the fine arts in the big wide world. But fate keeps driving the two men into each other’s arms…
Movie meaning of ending
Stefan Ruzowitzky became known throughout Germany through his psychological thriller “Anatomy,” which was so successful in this country that a second part even followed a short time later. To this day, the first part is one of the highest-grossing national genre films. The filmmaker then moved abroad, where he directed the snow western “Cold Blood” as well as the zombie horror “Patient Zero”. Even his children’s book adaptation “Lilli the Witch: The Dragon and the Magic Book” hinted at Ruzowitzky’s roots as a genre filmmaker. Entrusting him with the work on Hermann Hesse’s drama classic “Narcissus and Goldmund” seems unconventional to courageous at first glance, but in detail it makes perfect sense. Although the story focuses on the loving friendship between two men, hardly anyone could stage the environment marked by plague, violence and death in which this friendship develops into intimate love better than Ruzowitzky, who is familiar with the subject.
Behind the monastery walls, Narcissus (Sabin Tambrea) finds a listener in Anselm (Kida Khodr Ramadan).
At the beginning of “Narcissus and Goldmund,” Ruzowitzky, who was also responsible for the script, quickly describes the childhood years of the two main characters of the title. Even in these few minutes he doesn’t hold back about the violence that prevails behind the monastery walls. Lack of obedience is punished with beatings until the young boys’ backs and legs are covered in streaks of blood. This is sometimes very hard to see for a German literary film adaptation. And Ruzowitzky continues on this course, which is sometimes almost unbearable, for the next two hours, so we wouldn’t be surprised if the film ultimately receives an FSK rating for ages 16 and up. We see corpses covered in plague blisters, torture carried out on the victim in detail and bare skin in between. The backdrops always appear anything but tidy, but rather dirty and busy. And that is anything but self-evident, especially for a German literary film adaptation, in which everything tends to look a little like theater. Here and there you even have the feeling that you can smell the stench of the streets and their people in the cinema. It is thanks to Ruzowitzky’s precise direction that despite so much violence and dirt, the intimacy of the friendship between Narcissus and Goldmund never falls by the wayside.
As detailed and sometimes difficult to digest as the scenery in “Narcissus and Goldmund” seems, those responsible manage to never lose sight of what is important. Over the 110-minute running time, we primarily follow Goldmund on his journey from young to mature man, which he explains to Narcissus in detailed flashbacks. Goldmund’s love affairs in particular play a not unimportant role. But above all it is the question of the meaning of life that concerns the men. After all, the friends started their lives in the same way before they both drifted apart. The finished film only touches on the philosophical dimensions of the story, but after watching “Narcissus and Goldmund” you still come to the realization that there is no optimal path in life for everyone, but that happiness is individual and different for everyone. The young people who are allowed to watch this film adaptation of the material used in school lessons are definitely very lucky.
Conclusion: In this feature film interpretation of Hermann Hesse’s “Narcissus and Goldmund,” a warm-hearted male friendship collides with a dirty, unadorned environment. It is precisely this staging contrast that makes Stefan Ruzowitzky’s work so appealing.
“Narcissus and Goldmund” can be seen in USA cinemas from March 12th.