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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 1956 play Der Besuch der alten Dame (‘The Visit of the Old Lady’) shifted the setting from Switzerland to Austria. There 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 the biopic 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 quest, 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 in the end murdered by the townspeople for the fortune she has promised them when he dies, it remains a good version of the classic play that Hollywood castrated in The Visit (Ingrid Bergman, Anthony Quinn, 1964).

I don’t know why the old critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki dismissed the second half of the show (“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 Alfred 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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