Thursday, August 11, 2016

Die Krone von Arkus

Written and directed by Franziska Pohlmann. Starring Lukas Jantzen (Jono), Anna-Lena Sender (Saraja), and Tom Barcal (Gurungur).

Bottom line: For a German family movie with no English audio or subtitles, I had a solidly ok time watching Die Krone von Arkus.

Before we get to the review of Die Krone von Arkus, allow me to give some context. My wife and I are flying from Krakow to Chicago by way of Munich and Toronto: the Munich to Toronto portion was about 7 hours on Lufthansa. Several movies were watched on the long flights but, while my wife napped, I watched the film currently in question, Die Krone von Arkus.
Die Krone von Arkus is a very German family fantasy movie. It’s so German it didn’t have English subtitles or audio. It’s so German, I couldn’t stream it on Amazon, heck, I couldn’t order it on Amazon! I had to reside in Germany to rent it. I couldn’t even find a torrent to pirate the thing.
Oh, and I suppose I should mention that I don’t speak German….
Other than that though, let me tell you what I thought so far...because, well, as it was on a flight, I didn’t actually finish the film but I saw almost all of it.
So in this little German town, there is a witch who is looking for a magical diamond ring. She rules over the town with an iron fist. She kidnaps children who live in the town to try and find the ring. I suspect, because, children and their purity are the secret to getting the ring. We cut over to our hero, the leader of a group of ragamuffin kids. He’s kinda like the Artful Dodger from Oliver Twist. He meets a pretty lady ragamuffin who teaches him that he doesn’t have to steal. Long story short, they have to try and save their friends and the town from the evil witch.
If you’ve read my other reviews, you might know that I’m not a fan of musicals. More often than not, the songs long overstay their welcome. Maybe it’s because Die Krone von Arkus is a fantasy movie and a kids movie but even though there are a bunch of songs, they are all very short. I actually felt like I would’ve liked to hear more of them. Conveniently, even though I couldn’t find the movie, the soundtrack is on YouTube.
So, because I couldn’t really understand what they were saying, and I probably missed cultural queues, I can’t speak too too much to the dialog. That said, it sounds pretty cool.
The art direction is pretty solid too. Die Krone von Arkus feels like a big budget movie. Would I recommend this movie? Sure, but especially if you are flying Lufthansa. In the future, if I do wind up watching the rest of this with subtitles, I’ll return to this and do a follow up; let’s hope it doesn’t turn out to be awful writing with a cliché story.
This movie kinda reminds me of the first time I saw Jacques Tati’s masterpiece, Playtime. I was a freshman in college. A small group of us made a pilgrimage to an obscure movie rental place to pick out some zany foreign films. I chose Playtime because it looked cool. We hike back to our dorms and pop in the movies. We sit through about an hour of Playtime before the group vetoed my pick. It was a French art movie so I didn’t really get it on a number of levels but there was something alluring about it. I couldn’t quite tell what it was but I knew there was something.

So years later, I crossed paths with Playtime again and I gave it another go and, the rest is history. Now, I don’t know if Die Krone von Arkus will be as life changing but, this is to say, I’d recommend giving it a shot even if you don’t speak German. Maybe by breaking from the dialog, it will cause you to look at it (and film in general) in a new way.