This double DVD holds two unusual films by Richard Blank. In Friedliche Tage, we enter a totalitarian and inhuman society, in which daily life is a series of nightmares and the protagonists search for a utopia of freedom and love. Prinzenbad gives us a microcosm of a society dominated by male power plays, wheeling and dealing, corruption, love, and eroticism. Both films dispense with established dramatic conventions, instead consolidating scenes, episodes, and stories into a grotesque roundelay of the decline of civil society.
Friedliche Tage / Peaceful Days - BRD 1983 - Directed and written by: Richard Blank - Photographed by: Horst Schier - Music by: Loek Dikker - Cast: Katharina Thalbach, Branko Samarowski, Hannelore Schroth, Raphael Klachkin, Eva Mattes, Thomas Brasch, Beppo Brem - Produced by: Infafilm - Premiere: January 18, 1984 (Max-Ophüls-Preis, Saarbrücken)
Prizenbad / Royal Baths - BRD 1993 - Directed and written by: Richard Blank - Photographed by: Horst Schier - Music by: Loek Dikker - Cast: Bernhard Wicki, Ekaterina Strishenova, Elizabeth Schofield, Ulrich Wildgruber, Sándor Szabó, Michael Mrakitsch, Christoph Baumann, Robert Alföldi - Produced by: Granit-Film - Premiere: September 1, 1993
About Friedliche Tage / Peaceful Days
The dramatic arc of Friedliche Tage was developed from images and the people who sustained those images. As long as the film is set in the building where the executions are carried out and the delinquents await their end, the tale is told with "classic" suspense. After Hanna leaves there with Robert, her potential executioner played by Branko Samarowski the traditional, linear narrative form dissolves into individual motifs; images that taken together show that these two, as a couple, can't manage in the "normal" world. And in the end, some viewers are happy that the executioner returns to his old domain. He knows his way around there, he admits to being guilty of leaving. His career is advancing there. Happy ending?
I've never been interested in heroes, their enemies and a sustained, suspenseful story with a happy ending. The prevailing laws of Hollywood movies, to this day, follow the old dramaturgy of classic drama, which hasn't played a role in European theater since the 1920s of last century. Literature about modern theater makes it clear that the principle of figurative imagery, which is much more in keeping with our current multiple realities, has replaced a suspenseful, rationally coherent course of events.
About Prinzenbad / Royal Baths
I shot Prinzenbad in 1993. Five years earlier, my family and I had taken a trip to Budapest. We stayed at the Hotel Gellért, which is famous for its grand baths. Men and women visit separate sections of the baths. The water is heated to as much as 38 degrees Celsius. The men wear nothing but a small loincloth and it takes a while to get used to seeing the almost naked bodies. Once you get over your initial shame, you notice that the men in the baths talk about business, personal things, friendships, enemies, about women, and about which of them will win the lottery next weekend. It's a society of men that might amuse some people, but also frighten others - skin as far as the eye can see, male bodies, monstersin steaming water.
On my first visit, I looked at all that from the edge of the bathing pool and wondered, "What would happen if a woman turned up here?" I wrote a script. It was clear to me from the beginning that no classic narrative could be set in these baths. There was no hero here; instead there were 150-200 protagonists. So I devised and combined various men's stories love and jealousy, criminal doings, business and deceit, boss and underling. One actor - Ulrich Wildgruber - plays an actor holding forth with a monologue, and the pool attendant, played by Bernhard Wicki in his last great role, stands above them all like God the father. The stories alternate. The dramaturgy may be reminiscent of a fugue, and the music that Loek Dikker composed for the film plays with Baroque elements.
DVD features (2-disc DVD)
- Friedliche Tage 1983, 81'
- Booklet with essays by Richard Blank and Helmut Schödel
Edited by: Filmmuseum München and Goethe-Institut Munich
DVD authoring: Tobias Dressel
DVD supervision: Stefan Drössler
First edition May 2014