Synopsis: Germany 1772 – the young and tumultuous Johann Goethe (Alexander Fehling) aspires to be a poet; but after failing his law exams, he is sent by his father (Henry Huebchen) to a sleepy provincial court to mend his ways. Unsure of his talent and eager to prove himself, Goethe soon wins the praise and friendship of his superior Kestner (Moritz Bleibtreu). But then Lotte (Miriam Stein) enters his life and nothing is the same as before. However, the young lovers are unaware that her father has already promised Lotte’s hand to another man.
Release Date: November 4, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Drama, Romance
Before Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Alexander Fehling) became a renowned writer of such works as Faust and The Sorrows of Young Werther he was a young man studying medicine. Johann’s true love was for the page, writing poems in the attempt to be published. After failing his doctoral exams, being rejected by a publisher, and shaming his father in the process, he was sent to the small town of Wetzler to work as a law clerk in the courthouse for Albert Kestner (Moritz Bleibtreu). The free-spirited Goethe was not the most well-received man, and he struck up an unlikely friendship with Wilhelm Jerusalem (Volker Bruch), a fellow clerk who was the victim of many a cruel joke by his peers. It is in this small town that Goethe discovers the woman who will be his inspiration for the novel The Sorrows of Young Werther, a novel that would spark mass suicides across Germany upon its publication. Johann Goethe, the famed poet and philosopher of Germany, needed to experience life in order to achieve art. Director Philipp Stolzl’s Young Goethe In Love tells the never before told story about the young Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and how he found his art in life through a woman, Lotte Buff (Miriam Stein).
At the tender age of 23 Goethe is far from the philosopher and proclaimed genius he would become later in life. Goethe is a free-spirit who enjoys a drink a little too much, as well as a party. He comes from a prominent family yet behaves as he will, without regard for station or with respect for the courtesies of public life. A jaunty, comical, and very upbeat musical score accompanies young Goethe in the film. Even as he fails his exams, gets kicked out of the city for the country life, and is chastised by his boss Kestner the music never fails to offer a glimmer of hope, and of fun for the young Goethe’s attitude. His excitability towards life takes a romantic turn when he meets the beautiful Lotte Buff. An instant attraction exists the between the two and over a very short amount of time they find themselves in love, and his desire to be with her is evident. As this film is based on true events, and we know from history Goethe did not marry Lotte Buff, it is a tragic love story that follows. Tragic as it may be, it is incredibly romantic and steals your heart the only way a period drama can and will. Money problems for Lotte’s family, a sense of family duty, and the wide-eyed naivete of Goethe play together on screen creating a whirlwind of emotion. Lotte has been promised to another man, a man close to Goethe as it would be naturally, and the drama of their love being discovered unfolds in great waves of emotion, hitting each high and low perfectly. Young Goethe In Love is a bittersweet romantic film; and one that finally shows the connection Goethe and Lotte held that would foretell the future of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s career, and life.
Set in the lush landscape of the German countryside the visual possibilities in Young Goethe In Love are endless. It is troublesome to admit that the cinematography of Kolja Brandt actually ruins a great many of the shots. The deep focus used in most of the wide shots produces a blur effect that makes one wonder if the print of the film is bad or if indeed it is the camera work. Important moments fall victim to being out of focus, leaving the viewer’s eye to wander away from the action occurring in order to try and manage looking at the screen itself without difficulty. The interiors are shot well, and the lighting is always used to accentuate the characters on screen, but one is hard-pressed to fully engage with the time period, and all the sets have to offer when the focus is off on so many occasions. Even in moments of great dramatic influence between Goethe and Lotte their faces are blurred, the focus moves in and out, and suddenly the dramatic effect is lessoned. A saving moment is the mid-climax love scene between Goethe and Lotte. Shot in what could be imagined as a fairy-tale like forest setting the colors are sumptuous and the angles used by the camera emanate eroticism between the two. The combination of the well-shot and the poorly executed make Young Goethe In Love a striking film to watch, as well as a large disappointment.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Philipp Stolzl
- Producer(s): Alexander DydynaChristoph MullerPhilipp Stolzl
- Screenwriter(s): Alexander Fehling (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)Miriam Stein (Lotte Buff)
- Story: Moritz Bleibtreu (Albert Kestner)
- Cast: Volker Bruch (Wilhelm Jerusalem) Kolja BrandtUdo Kramer
- Cinematographer: Ingo L. Frenzel
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: Germany