Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5
Original title: Der Rosenkonig
West Germany/Portugal/France/The Netherlands, 1986. Werner Schroeter Filmproduktion, Juliane Lorenz Filmproduktion, Futra Film. Screenplay by Magdalena Montezuma, Werner Schroeter. Cinematography by Elfi Mikesch, Wolfgang Pilgrim. Produced by Paulo Branco, Udo Heiland. Production Design by Caritas de Witt. Film Editing by Juliane Lorenz.
Compile every standard of pretentious arthouse film iconography and this ripe melodrama by Werner Schroeter will probably hit a perfect score on all counts. It would be worthless crap in the hands of a lesser artist, but a visionary with this strong a belief in the importance of his images can only be accused of impenetrability at worst. It stars Magdalena Montezuma, who was dying during filming and to whom the picture is dedicated, as a melancholy woman who languishes about her farmhouse; outside in the barn, her son has tied up a handsome young man and is finding ways to enjoy his captivity. That pretty much covers the action, with lots of impeccably framed and posed shots indulging in the ripest and trashiest of melodramatic archetypes: roses dripping with water, crystalline tears on a woman’s face, homoerotic imagery and some nasty animal cruelty all conspire to make for a listless, though not forgettable, evening at the movies. Don’t bother unless you’re feeling very much up for the adventure.