Great Flicks: "Schultze Gets the Blues"

Gee whiz. What should I do? Should I recommend this movie? Yes. I think that I should recommend it. I think that I will recommend it. And I imagine that I will get a lot of flak for doing so; but hell, it's worth the slings and, by golly, it's worth the arrows. There are only ten good movies currently being screened in Toronto, and Schultze Gets the Blues is one of them. So drop the converter, pick up your wallet and head over to Carlton Cinemas immediately, nutty. You have go to see this flick before it leaves theatres in two weeks.

Okay. Maybe I'm a little too excited. Perhaps I have misjudged your character and your appreciation for great art. Yes. Perhaps I have misjudged. You might not like this film. You might actually find it dull, slow and pointless. I guess it depends on what you're looking for in a movie. I enjoy seeing a real person on screen. I enjoy seeing that person doing or not doing. I enjoy seeing that person existing. The beauty contained in this film might be lost on all you Fast and the Furious lovers. Schultze might not score points if your favorite film is Spice World or From Justin to Kelly. If you own more than two Jennifer Love Hewitt flicks, stay away from this one. For the true fans of film, for true celluloid aficionados, I must recommend Schultze Gets the Blues. Yes. I must recommend it.

Schultze (Horst Krause) is a portly man who, after being forced into early retirement, finds he has a lot more time on his hands. More time than he needs. He lumbers around his property without purpose, occasionally cleaning garden gnomes and occasionally napping. The pace of his life has slowed considerably...and he seems discouraged by this--his face, not his words, let us know that he is unsatisfied with this. He taps the keys of his accordion mechanically and without enthusiasm. He seems ready to become another object in the house--another thing that will collect dust.

That soon changes. Schultze hears Louisianan Zydeco music over the radio and immediately falls in love with its unconventional style and hurried tempo. He straps on his accordion and begins to piece together a similar tune...this time Schultze plays with energy, and his spirit seems lifted by excitement and possibility. Unfortunately, Schultze's Cajun-inspired polka is not accepted by members of the community and he reassumes his lumbering nature and saddle-backed posture. In an almost conciliatory gesture, the polka club elects to send Schultze to a German music festival in Texas. This marks the beginning of a journey....

Schultze Gets the Blues is a slow film because it captures life so well. Director Michael Schorr uses long takes, landscape shots, and minimal dialogue to create the essence of boredom. The laborious rhythm of these scenes is meant to contrast with the upbeat tempo of the Zydeco music--the music responsible for snapping Schultze out of his funk. Watching Schultze, I was reminded of Antonioni's L'Avventura. In that film, Antonioni minimized cuts and camera movement in order to illustrate that life is boredom. Schorr uses similar static shots to restate the perpetual existence of nature, the unyielding presence of technology, and Man's subservience to both of these elements.

But Schulze Gets the Blues is really about a man who refuses to let nature and technology slow him down. It's about maintaining that zest for life and that sense of wonderment and possibility that seemed abundant in our youth. Schultze keeps moving forward, toward Louisana, following his heart, and the music, to a better place...a more peaceful place. And everybody around him is left to do the same. And the music keeps playing....

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