KNOCKIN' ON HEAVEN'S DOOR
DIRECTOR: THOMAS JAHN
COUNTRY: GERMANY 1997
CINEMATOGRAPHY: GERO STEFFEN
MUSIC: FRANZ PLASA & the group SELIG
CAST: Til Schweiger, Jan Josef Liefers, Huub Stapel
SUPER FEATURES: Very enjoyable romp to the end. And don't be silly and miss the credits!
I suppose that this film is a bit like trying to define dark comedy, or black humor as it is often known. The problem is, where does one define the beginning of the tragedy, or sad story, and the end of the comedy.
And one thing, that some French and German films DO have, is a lot of this who cares style of comedy, that invariably is more unfortunate than enjoyable, but it does help us laugh a little. Maybe that's the only point.
In this fine, and very enjoyable film, Martin and Rudi find out that they do not have too long to live. One has an inoperable brain tumor and the other has bone cancer. So they set out to take a trip and enjoy whatever time they have left. And what a trip this is. They begin by stealing a car, and then make their way to the coast, which has to go through Denmark.
And the misadventures along the way, are hilarious, and very enjoyable, although Martin seems to be having seizures every now and then. In the chase, of these two are two hoods, the victims of the stolen car, and later by the police. And towards the end, the film pretty much allows a Deux ex Machina to work, just so that these two can have their quiet end.
Several things make this film enjoyable. All the characters are eccentric nuts, and have their own agendas, and the are always crashing into someone else, which makes for a bunch of odd ball situations, that are hilarious. The whole thing starts with the first time they have to fill up the little car with gasoline. But a bigger hint for tings to come, was shown in the room that they were both assigned, where they met. As soon as they decided that they were going to enjoy their last days on earth, the cross falls off the wall, and the cabinet opens up to find a bottle of
tequila, ready for them. And what seems to start out as a drag of a film, slow, and down trodden, all of a sudden turns up to be one of those that you got to see to enjoy it.
Rudi has never been to the coast, and never seen the sea, and Martin tells him about it. In the end, we discover much more, and this is the main motif in the whole film. Nothing will stop these two from getting there, it seems, specially when the police is bumbling on its own wheels and adventures, and can't get things together. As it turns out, these guys get a break from the news media, which allows them to continue to their destination, where the film ends.
If this film is not well directed, at least the two characters have worked out together really well. And it is their interplay that makes the things so enjoyable. With their bit of luck, they manage to make happen one of their wishes from their list, thus adding a slight fulfillment to their lives, even if it is at the end.
With some excellent music, through out, and a supreme version of Bob Dylan's song at the end, a la German rock super style, this film is actually a very nice one, and one that is worth seeing. It is not a fancy film, in shooting style, or anything major, but its two characters are infectious, and do take us along for a ride.
4 of 5 GIBLOONS
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