San Francisco International Film Festival 2012: “The Dreileben Trilogy” Reviews and Clips

Though made for German television, The Dreileben Trilogy, or as I like to call it, “Six Degrees Of Nature Boy”, is definitely a cinematic event.  Three directors, each with their own visual voice, take turns guiding their narratives across the picturesque Forest of Dreileben.  All three films are set during the same time period, and all three films deal with a different protagonist who in some way is connected to Molesch, a local escaped convict.

What impressed me most about these three films was the multilevel depth to which each of these scripts reach.  There’s Christian Petzold‘s Beats Being Dead, a turbulent coming-of-age romantic tragedy, Dominik Graf‘s Don’t Follow Me Around; a chatty character study of a young couple, their detective friend/houseguest and the complex relationship between the three of them, and Christoph Hochhäusler‘s One Minute of Darkness, which I like to think of as the German version of the Coen BrothersNo Country For Old Men (in story alone, not visual style)where, when we’re not following the survival skills of coo-coo for co-co puffs killer, we’re following an old deaf dog of a detective.

Because each film follows the same time line, those who decide to see all three will be treated to seeing events take place from other character’s perspectives.  So, while it is not necessary, or even essential to watch these movies in succession, those who do will be glad they did, and not just because they have given into their completest tendencies.

Part 1: Beats Being Dead

This first entry was my favorite of the trilogy.  Often in romantic dramas, or any genre for that matter, when it comes to portraying mutual attraction between two characters, more often than not I’m not sold.  This was not the case in Christian Petzold‘s Beats Being Dead.

The film has all the characteristics of a masterfully crafted coming-of-age tale, yet were it not for the many background distractions of police helicopters, and ambulances whizzing by I would have thought this just some exceptional coming-of-age story and left it at that.  Yet, once I took into account the film’s haunting musical score, the small town nestled within the forest setting, the tragically satisfying ending, and the police backdrops, I couldn’t help but feel I was watching something more sinister than just another well put together coming-of-age drama – something a little more David Lynchian perhaps.

I think this movie will always be remembered by me as the German Coming-of-age Twin Peeks episode, without all those WTF moments the show is known for.

Part 2: Don’t Follow Me Around

If part one was the coming-of-age portion, than part 2 is the 30-somethings in crisis portion of the trilogy.  Dominik Graf‘s Don’t Follow Me Around is a chatty character study of a young couple, their detective friend/house guest and the complex relationship between all three of them.  Each of these people have their own secrets and half the fun of this film is seeing who will reveal what when, and to whom.

Like I mentioned at the top of this post, all 3 movies can be enjoyed as stand alone entities, yet I think it should be known that this one, though my least favorite of the three, was the most intellectually stimulating.  In large part this was due to the fantastically verbose and well-written script, in where most of the drama and action take place during the many late night wine induced conversations, including a brief butt naked backyard romp.

In short, Don’t Follow Me Around is a fine intelligent drama; one I recommend.

Part 3: One Minute of Darkness

Although it is inconsequential to know the reasons as to why a certain action occurred at the end of the part one, those reasons are revealed in Christoph Hochhäusler entry into the Dreileben trilogy.  Just thought you ought to know.

Anyway, as a stand alone piece of cinema One Minute of Darkness is fantastic.  The movie is primarily a character study of a mentally unstable fugitive and the survival skills he applies while being hunted in the Dreileben woods.  Having already seen a Hochhäusler film at least year’s festival, The City Below, I was looking forward to once again seeing his standoutish use of framing.  Needless to say, I was not disappointed.  Fans of thrillers, tragedies, and character studies will probably not want to miss this one, while fans of just good all around filmmaking should see this as well.


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  1. Christian Petzold’s Brabara Review and Trailer | Filmbalaya.com - March 5, 2013

    […] – Petzold’s second film of the year (his first being the exceptional entry into The Dreileben Trilogy, Beats Being Dead) was a joy to watch, and with the exception of the 2006 film, The Lives of Others, was a nice […]

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