for August 3rd
And The Warrior
Reviewed by Dennis
In the opening minutes
of "The Princess And The Warrior" a young woman plucks an ice cube from
a bowl and holds it against her neck. Her free arm rests on the forearm
of the young man sitting beside her. "Do you feel it" she asks, as his
free hand reads the flesh on her arm, as if the goose bumps printed there
were braille. Indeed, before the scene is over, we learn that the young
man, Otto, is blind. It's a quiet and remarkable moment in a very remarkable
Direstor Tom Tykwer
is best known for "Run Lola Run", a high octane meditation on the role
of chance in our lives. I admired Tykwer's narrative skills in "Lola",
and it wasn't the frenetic pacing of its three short acts that bothered
me. It was that "Lola" seemed to diminish the consequences of 'character'
in our lives. As I read it, Tykver seemed to be saying that, as often as
not, random collisions of small events determine the outcome of life-sized
situations. That notion, however cleverly articulated, leaves me cold.
But if "Lola" makes
an artful case for chance, Tykwer's new film makes an even more artful
case for the role of destiny in the unfolding of our lives. And destiny,
surely, is at the far end of any continuum on which we might place such
notions as chance and randomness, fate and destiny. "The Princess And The
Warrior" features Franka Potente, of "Lola" fame, in the role of Sissi,
a nurse in a psychiatric hospital. We learn early in the movie that the
men in her ward are very attracted to her. And that she can be counted
upon to stretch the limits of duty when ministering to their needs. Sissi
leads a sheltered existence at the asylum, but one day, a stroll to the
bank to do a favor for a friend changes her life forever. Fate, in the
form of a large red truck, literally knocks her off her feet.
Enter Bodo, a brooding
fellow played by Benno Furmann. Bodo, unwittingly the cause of the 'accident',
and unaware that there is a victim, crawls under the truck seeking refuge
from pursuers. There he encounters Sissi, in the throes of asphyxiation.
Without hesitation he proceeds to rescue her. In a scene that many of the
critics are marveling at, Bodo temporarily transubstantiates into a beneficent
dracula. And, having restored to Sissi the breath he inadvertantly took
away, Bodo vanishes into the light.
This happens early
in the film, so I'm not spoiling much for you. The rest of the intricate
plot involves Sissi's dogged pursuit of her saviour. Count the number of
times Sissi gets decked in the course of her mission.
Note who plays a
great old Brenda Lee song early in the film, and the name of the song.
Listen for the sound wet grass makes as it becomes a pillow for a star
gazing Sissi. There are so many extraordinary cinema moments in "The Princess
And The Warrior" that to give a few away probably wouldn't hurt, but I
won't. If you love surprises at the movies as much as I do, don't miss
Tom Tykwer's latest exploration of big ideas. At 36, he's already a master
story-teller. Dare we anticipate anything this fine from him again. I'll
tempt the fates and say - probably.
Happy to be sitting
in for The Film Gang, this is Dennis Morton.
Copyright Dennis Morton 2001