"There are eight girls in the house where I am living, and practically all of them are good looking. You can realize that I am kept busy" (Franz Schubert)
Viennese Theatre, where sublime music bursts out, is the center of our attention in the opening sequence (something that strikingly recalls the opening of Clarence Brown's SONG OF LOVE). The audience are drowned in the majestic tunes. Among the captivated listeners, there is one person who is clearly not very keen on the music. Unlike many others, he finds the concert 'disheartening.' He is surely not the one who does not understand much of music (as some listeners remark) but a young, vibrant composer whose songs warm the hearts of many Viennese ladies, Franz Schubert.
The title, which does not recall much of the protagonist's biography, highlights the house of three girls situated near the Viennese university at Moelker bastion. It is believed that the composer visited it and could as well fall in love with some of the girls who lived there. But what interests us, above all, today about this movie is the portrayal of Schubert. Does his depiction correspond to historical composer or does it rather stand in opposition with the aforementioned quotation of his?
Although the life of Franz Schubert had been brought to screen by Willi Forst in 1933, this film relies on other sources, in particular, the romantic and comic operetta by Heinrich Berte and the 1916 libretto by Alfred Maria Willner and Heinz Reichert - a fictionalized account of Schubert's romantic life adapted from the 1912 novel SCHWAMMERL by Rudolf Hans Bartsch. As the theme may occur fertile for both mysterious, penetrating direction styles and sweet products of post war Ufa studio, the approach of this movie seems to fully evoke the medium of the 1950s. The popular Ernst Marischka (good reputation after SISSI Trilogy) makes this film in a similar manner as many 'Heimatfilme' so widespread in 1958. And now a question may arise: what do viewers actually expect from this movie? Will they mind the innumerable liberties taken within an interpretation rather than biopic?
It is a pleasant, colorful, peaceful, idealized, idyllic motion picture which appears to be sweeter than chocolate and rely to supply a viewer with good mood, blissful feelings, and a general aura of something that some may label as 'kitsch.' That is, above all, clear in the uncomplicated nature of the plot and the atmospheric use of Schubert's music. Incorporated to the storyline, the songs aid the atmosphere. We can drown in the mood of such songs as folk 'Am Brunnen Vor Dem Tore,' sweet 'Es Soll Der Fruehling Mir Kuenden,' tear jerking 'Herzen Bezwingende Lieder Aus Wien,' pious 'Ave Maria,' and melancholic 'Leise Flehen Meine Lieder.' And the performances?
Karlheinz Boehm, a skillful actor known to many as Franz Josef in SISSI, proves to portray a specific musical personality with ease. As he could play the piano, it was easier for him to play certain scenes, particularly the ones where he composes music. But he is a sympathetic character but just adequate, not outstanding. Forget about psychology being put to his character in order to make him appealing, controversial and thought provoking! With the spirit of idealization, unlike historical Schubert, he is a principled character of moral thoughts and choices. That is purely the product of time when 'psychoanalyzing' characters was far ahead of its time. Yet, we can accept his depiction of feelings and torments. Furthermore, young Schubert is contrasted with the master Ludwig Van Beethoven portrayed by Ewald Balser.
In some of his considerably short scenes, he highlights the neurotic features of a genius and his ghostly fear of oblivion. The deafening Beethoven is showed walking the streets of Vienna near the Pasqualatihaus with the music in his mind. The mention of German opera FIDELIO is a nice little historical contribution to the story.
Other performances include some best Ufa actors of the time. A pure musical genius cinematically personified is an outstanding German tenor Rudolf Schock as Baron Schober. He sings as hardly anyone else in motion pictures and deserves great degree of attention. Johanna Matz, as one of the three girls, the doll-like Hannerl, highlights innocent but naive approach of a girl in love with both Schubert's songs and Schober's voice. She is given some 'good-looking' moments, particularly the fist visit at Schubert's and the note of music with feelings. The pairing of Magda Schneider and Gustav Knuth once again recall SISSI. They give fine performances as Tschoell parents who, from time to time, utter something hilarious. One of their best scenes is Christian (Gustav Knuth) rejecting the doubts about Hannerl's piano lessons saying 'I trust my daughter!' Some additional humor is supplied by Lotte Lang, Richard Romanowsky, Else Rambausek.
Among the ostentatious sets, the idyllic shots of nature, views of Vienna, there is an aristocratic element with the concert at the Hungarian Count Eszterhazy.
Before DAS DREIMAEDERLHAUS gets covered by the dust of time and its legendary bliss faded, the film is worth seeing as one which, perhaps, does not offer any intellectual study of a character nor attempts at some professional insight into classical music, but constitutes pleasant 97 minutes filled with music and feelings. Isn't that, sometimes, a better approach than hard efforts within psychology that may still fail to correspond to just parallels and, consequently, vainly examine a composer within his torments? With this in mind, this movie concludes well since "nobody understands another's sorrow and nobody another's joy" (Franz Schubert).
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