George Moorse (West Germany,1970)
One of the first films from “The New German Cinema” to make its mark internationally, Lenz was featured at the “1972 Das Neue Kino” retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the program which first acquainted American filmgoers with the surprising renaissance of quality film production in West Germany. In the “1972 International Film Guide,” critic Ulrich von Thuna noted:
“This is a film version of the accomplished story by Buechner (written in 1835) about the Sturm und Drang poet Lenz’s stay in the Vosges during 1778 when, suffering from schizophrenia and depression, he was desperately looking for peace and quiet. Moorse has managed to capture the concise, cool atmosphere of the novel in brilliant fashion, and to reveal the inner turmoil of the ailing dramatist.
“Moorse has commented that his film emphasises the determining factors of earth and the passage of time in human relationships. Thus the majestic scenery of Northern Bavaria in winter has been integrated most successfully into the spare plot, which makes unusual demands on the audience. Hardly anything happens, as such, in the film. Lenz, whether dwarfed by the vast landscape or constricted by the cramped farm houses, must come to terms with himself. Only occasionally does he rebel. He finds himself at a loss, and tries to commit suicide. In the closing sequences he is led back from the cold and hostile environment of the countryside to the city - this time as an irretrievably sick man.”
• Written and Directed by George Moorse. Adapted from the short story by George Buechner. Photographed by Gerard Vandenberg. With Michael Konig, Louis Waldon, Sigurd Bischof, Klaus Lea. (1970, 129 mins, 35mm, color, English titles, Print Courtesy of The Goethe Institute)