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Saturday, 5 October 2013

DVD Of The Week: Die Farbe (2010)


The cosmic horror stories of HP Lovecraft are notoriously difficult to translate to live-action because so many of them deal with the "indescribable" but low-budget, independent German film Die Farbe (The Colour) makes a sterling effort to embrace these inherent difficulties.

Filmed in black-and-white, Die Farbe is a retelling of Lovecraft's 1927 tale The Colour Out Of Space (I recently reviewed the HP Lovecraft Historical Society's full-cast audio adaptation), but relocating the action to the edge of Germany's Swabian-Franconian Forest.

Opening in the 1970's, American Jonathan Davis (Ingo Heise), of Arkham, travels to Germany in search of his errant father who was a medic stationed in the Swabian-Franconian Forest region after the Second World War.

Davis meets an old farmer Armin Pierske (Michael Kausch; Marco Leibnitz in the story-within-a-story) who had met his father after the war and Pierske begins to regale him with an account of a meteor that fell in the valley before the war and proceeded to infect the lands owned by his neighbour, Nahum Gärtener (Erik Rastetter) and gradually drive the entire family insane.

As I said in my review of the audio adaptation, this is not one of Lovecraft's most action-packed stories and Die Farbe lets the unearthly elements spread at their own pace.

Honestly, this is really a film primarily for die-hard Lovecraft fans who are already invested in the creeping horror, but those willing to surrender to the slow pace are rewarded when we get to finally see "the colour" in the last third of the film (a fantastic justification for shooting the movie in black and white, on top of the simple fact that it adds a certain authenticity to the atmosphere).

It's a shame we didn't see more of the alien "colour", especially in the last scene, and it's never really made clear why Davis puts up with Pierske's rambling monologue which, on the surface, has little to do with his efforts to track down his father.

The truly horrific moments of the piece are a combination of suggestion and fleeting glimpses, which is often the best approach when dealing with scenes that are beyond the ability of man to reproduce - especially when on a tight budget.

Towards the end I still had a few questions about the story, but the script - by director Huan Vu - managed to slip in an unexpected twist that tied most things up (although I remained unconvinced by Davis Senior's exact motivation, as an old man, for running away to Germany - except that it kickstarted the plot).

The Colour Out Of Space
, Lovecraft's favourite of his stories, has previously been adapted to film as Die, Monster, Die! in 1965, The Curse in 1987 (featuring Wil Wheaton) and Colour From The Dark in 2008.

Look out for reviews of these titles in the near(-ish) future...

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