20 November 2008

You Know You're a Film Buff When…

you spend the evening watching the subtitled 'making of' documentary included on the DVD of a foreign film.

A friend loaned us Vitus, a Swiss film about a musical prodigy and his struggle to fit in.  It's charming and delightful, even better the second time around (as all good films are).

Vitus is a little boy with a giant IQ and a gift for playing the piano.  As he grows, we watch his developing relationships with his mother, his father, his grandfather, and others as he struggles to find his way in a world that has no place for him.

Although European films have a reputation for darkness, Vitus is bright and colorful and the characters are well-written and well-portrayed.  The relationships among the main characters engage and drawn you in.  Vitus's grandfather reminds me a bit of my own.  His mother is torn between protecting her little boy and her growing ambitions for him.  And his father, while he wants to be there for his wife and son, is simply doing his best to get by.

Twelve-year old Vitus is played by pianist Teo Gheorghiu.  Swiss actor, Bruno Ganz, plays the grandfather.  You may remember him as Johann von Staupitz in Luther.  The other actors, while mostly unknown to American audiences, were drawn from the Swiss stage and do a great job.  Writer/director Fredi Murer has been making films since 1965, and I think I'd like to look into some of his others.  He's a real artist.

In addition to the beautiful cinematography and appealing characters, the script is a gem.  I can't comment on the dialog this time as I don't speak German, but the bits in English sounded right.

Vitus is also available from Netflix.



  1. Thanks for this review Lynne. This looks like a film my family would like and one I would much prefer to August Rush--maybe I shouldn't even make the comparison.

  2. We just watched *Il Postino* last night, so I'm right in there with you on the foreign film thing. :-) I, too, appreciate the recommendation!

  3. I haven't seen either August Rush or Il Postino, but I loved Life is Beautiful and want to add it to our collection. Even though it's been a few years, our kids still greet their sisters and me with 'Buon-giorno, principessa!'

  4. Ahhhh, Lynne,

    I just finished watching Vitus on Instant Watch. It was excellent. I'm thinking of all my musician friends who would enjoy this one.

    If I had the disc, I know I would watch the documentary of it being made.

    This ranks up there with Mostly Martha as a favorite foreign film. And who recommended that one (who put it on my radar since I had never heard of it before?)? You, my friend!