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

In 2008 an Austrian-German co-production of a TV film version of Dürrenmatt’s Der Besuch der alten Dame shifted the setting from Switzerland to Austria. 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 from her initial goal: to return and exact deadly vengeance on the man and the town that ruined her life. Otherwise, given that Ill is still killed, it’s a good version of the classic play that Hollywood castrated in The Visit (Ingrid Bergman, Anthony Quinn, 1964) and watching it is 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. Ich liebte dich. Du hast mich verraten (‘I loved you. You betrayed me’).

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