search

Young Goethe in Love

Young Goethe in Love

An unexpected treat, the freewheeling German biopic "Young Goethe in Love" isn't much more interested in adhering to the historical record than was "Amadeus" or "Shakespeare in Love," but ... actually, there is no "but." That's merely a fact. Facts are overrated commodities in the matter of cinematic portraiture.

Poet, dramatist, actor-manager, philosopher and scientist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) spent more than half his life writing and rewriting the great two-part "Faust," which came well after the time frame of director Philipp Stolzl's film. An impudent prologue sets the tone for the picture, written by Christoph Muller, Stolzl and Alexander Dydyna. Played with dash and feeling by Alexander Fehling, young Goethe (not yet in love) is running late, literally running, to his final law school exams. His doctoral defense consists of winging it, improvising, sputtering with a smile. "You should've opened a book now and then," an instructor declares, failing him.

Relocated to a clerking job in a provincial Wetzlar court, Goethe befriends a fellow clerk (Volker Bruch), of similar romantic temperament. At a dance, he meets local resident Lotte Buff (Miriam Stein, a wonderfully natural presence, yet firmly in period) who brings forth the nascent poet in him. They fall together, just before being pulled apart by Lotte's arranged marriage to Goethe's own colleague and mentor, played by Moritz Bleibtreu.

In broad strokes "Young Goethe in Love" explains how and why Goethe came to write "The Sorrows of Young Werther," but you needn't know a thing about Goethe or his works to enjoy the picture. The publication of "Werther," we're told in a delightfully phrased epilogue, set off a run of suicides among the book's more impressionable lovelorn readers. The movie feeds on that sort of youthful ardor, while borrowing an idea or two from "Cyrano de Bergerac." (Unaware they're both smitten by Lotte, Goethe serves as his mentor's unofficial coach in the matter of pitching woo.) Throw in "Amadeus" riffs and some of "Shakespeare in Love's" rollicking energy, and you have a clear set of inspirations.

Yet director Stolzl's film feels all of a piece, and it's far more confident and assured in its technique than Stolzl's previous film, "North Face." Its mixture of lightness and romantic gravity has been cleverly judged. It's not mentioned in the film, but a commonly recycled axiom of Goethe's, relating to the business of assessing creative success or failure, asked the following questions: What was the artist trying to accomplish? How well did he or she accomplish it? And was it worth accomplishing? "Young Goethe in Love" wants only to engage an audience with a capital-R Romantic ideal of Goethe's first love. It does so very well. And it was well worth the effort. Also, the first kiss between Fehling and Stein is exceptionally warm -- the stuff that novels, or poems, are made on.

— Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

Young Goethe in Love

Thu & Fri February 9 & 10, 2012, 7:00 & 9:00, Muenzinger Auditorium

Germany, 100 min, 35mm, 2010, in German, 2.35:1, Color, Not Rated • official site

recommend

Tickets

10 films for $60 with punch card
$9 general admission. $7 w/UCB student ID, $7 for senior citizens
$1 discount to anyone with a bike helmet
Free on your birthday! CU Cinema Studies students get in free.

Parking

Pay lot 360 (now only $1/hour!), across from the buffalo statue and next to the Duane Physics tower, is closest to Muenzinger. Free parking can be found after 5pm at the meters along Colorado Ave east of Folsom stadium and along University Ave west of Macky.

RTD Bus

Park elsewhere and catch the HOP to campus

International Film Series

(Originally called The University Film Commission)
Established 1941 by James Sandoe.

First Person Cinema

(Originally called The Experimental Cinema Group)
Established 1955 by Carla Selby, Gladney Oakley, Bruce Conner and Stan Brakhage.

C.U. Film Program

(AKA The Rocky Mountain Film Center)
First offered degrees in filmmaking and critical studies in 1989 under the guidance of Virgil Grillo.

Celebrating Stan

Created by Suranjan Ganguly in 2003.

C.U. Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Established 2017 by Chair Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz.

Thank you, sponsors!
Boulder International Film Festival
Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Looking for a gift for a friend?
Buy a Frequent Patron Punch Card for $60 at any IFS show. With the punch card you can see ten films (a value of $90).

Cover art for Spring 2 2022
Virtual titles to stream from home

Cox & Kjølseth
: Filmmaker Alex Cox & Pablo Kjølseth discuss film topics from their own unique perspectives.

Z-briefs
: Pablo and Ana share Zoom-based briefs on what's currently playing at IFS

Sprocket Damage
: Sprocket Damage digs deep(ish) into current and classic films and film-related subjects to bring to you insightful, humorous, and enlightening perspectives on the industry.

Search IFS schedules

Index of visiting artists