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Photo sources (above): montazsmagazin.hu and kino.de

In 2008, an Austro-German co-production of a TV film version of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s famous 1956 play Der Besuch der alten Dame (‘The Visit of the Old Lady’) shifted the setting from Switzerland to Austria, where the filming took place in Styria. Most importantly they picked a very good Claire Zachanassian in Christiane Hörbiger, niece of the porter in The Third Man and aunt of Falco’s manager in Verdammt wir leben noch.

At the climax in the original play, though, the richest woman in the world does not waver an instant from her initial goal, which is to return and exact deadly vengeance on the man and the town that ruined her life.

Otherwise, given that Alfred Ill is still killed by the townspeople for the fortune she has promised them, it remains a good version of the classic play that Hollywood castrated in The Visit (Ingrid Bergman, Anthony Quinn, 1964). Watching it is also an excellent way for students to improve their German.

I don’t know why the old critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki dismissed the second half (“wird immer schlechter”). The acting is consistently good, as he conceded. The music by Matthias Weber is suitably sinister. It is a horror film after all, as in the judgement and death sentence confirmed by Claire to Ill before the end, in both play and film.

Ich liebte dich. Du hast mich verraten (‘I loved you. You betrayed me’).

 

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