Following on from the success of The Lives of Others and The Counterfeiters, the award winning “Four Minutes” sees wrongfully imprisoned piano prodigy Jenny, a Molotov cocktail of suppressed emotions and uncontrollable rage, locked in a constant battle with those around her. Together with Traude, a professional musician who wants to expose Jenny’s talents at a national competition, the pair develop a volatile teacher-pupil relationship. As the duo plan their intent to make it to the finals, it soon becomes apparent that, once there, Jenny will have only four minutes to prove herself, and no guarantee of freedom afterwards. Starring multiple award winner Hannah Herzsprung (“The Reader”, “The Baader-Meinhof Complex”), “Four Minutes” is a cinema tour de force that combines music, gritty prison drama and powerful performances to winning effect.
2006 – Certificate: 15 – German Film – Rating Details: Strong violence and very strong language. 10 out of 10.
To do most things that people consider important in life, you have to study and then possibly pass some sort of test, exam or interview. In other cases you need to read the instructions or practice, but in the end you’re required to be able to demonstrate a degree of competency before you’re trusted by anyone to do it ‘for real’. Yet for some reason, with one of the most important and challenging things, we expect everyone to just get on with it without demonstrating the slightest level of ability. That’s so stupid. Where’s the logic in that? It’s enough to make Mr. Spock freak out. I’ve mentioned it before, but my journey to work involves walking almost past an infant school, at least close enough for me to run into lots of parents taking their kids there. I don’t expect young kids to ever do anything remotely sensible; in fact it’s in their job description. They live in a world that isn’t quite in phase with grow-ups. However, if fate has put you in change of a young person, you really ought to be trained how to do this important job, as most people clearly don’t have a clue. In fact those that do know are generally too old to have any, which in my opinion is a really bad design error. I’m generally a very tolerant person; yes, really. But one thing that’s been testing me to my limits recently is the almost total inability of parents to wait at traffic lights and not block the entire pavement with hyperactive kids, bags, pushchairs, dogs and other non-essential stuff. Hell, it’s only a short walk to the local school, not a manned mission to Mars. Somehow, they think having control of a young person entitles them to inconvenience the rest of the universe, as if this is some sort of reward for proving their immense virility or fertility. Seriously dudes, we’ve managed to reproduce adequately enough to keep ourselves going since life first evolved on Earth; it’s really not that difficult and it doesn’t reflect on anyone’s worth. What does take skill and deserves admiration is dealing with the consequences, which many clearly fail at on an epic scale. I’m a Pavement Warrior and denying me my right of access is a direct challenge to my entire belief structure. I’m not keen on making kids orphans, but sometimes, someone needs to make a stand. Just today I narrowly avoided a serious incident on an especially narrow bit of pavement, when two young boys came flying out of a terrace house; the sort that has a front garden about 1m deep. A guy coming down ‘The Mountain’ (as I call this particularly steep section of my route to work) had to take evasive action to avoid running into them and nearly swerved into me as a result. Seriously, I was lucky to get out of that in one piece. Then again, what do I know? It was only very recently that I found out that you can’t just take the batteries out of them at night when you go to bed. And now something a whole lot better…
This is a totally awesome movie. One of the best 50 films ever made. It’s German, so unsurprisingly it’s not a comedy. (I guess saying that makes me a racist, unlike Nigel Farage because he’s got a German wife.) However, it is a kick-ass drama and totally absorbing. Slow, dark and smouldering, it just blew me away. I have a soft spot for movies about mavericks, rebels and people who don’t play the game properly. In particular the ones that do it for no other reason than to piss the world off and who’re willing to take themselves down along with everyone else rather than change. (I like to think that I’m a bit like that, except in reality I’m probably the world’s biggest ‘yes man’ and enjoy nothing better than asking “how high?” when someone tells me to jump.) Cutting off your whole head to spite your face. Our hero Jenny isn’t quite as nihilistic as that, but she comes close. The Four Minutes of the title refers to a scene near the end of the movie. One of the best bits of cinema ever; you could never play it loud enough. It’s not a perfect film for a range of minor but noticeable reasons, but I’m willing to overlook it small faults and consider the bigger picture. An essential watch.
This is a movie about someone who plays the piano and as such without a suitable soundtrack to support the story, it would fail miserably. Fortunately it’s a great mixture of original and (mainly) classical, (mainly) German composed music. There’s an interesting article on the official website about how hard it was to find a composer for the original music used.
I think this trailer lightens the mood of the film slightly and misrepresents the relationship between the two main characters, so it’s a bit disappointing. It really doesn’t portray the power or mood of the film well.
Movie Weather Forecast. Cloudy and cool. Stay indoors is my advice.
Recommended for pianists, lesbians, nurses, prison wardens, Nazis, abusive parents and rebels.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? The four minutes that give this film its title are as badass as it comes. The closest you can get to sticking two fingers up to the world without saying a word; a great bit of punk and not a guitar in sight.
I wrote about this film here in 2010. This is what I had to say then.
Watched Four Minutes on DVD last night. This is a 2006 German film (so that means subtitles for the Euro illiterate like me) about a young woman who’s in prison and also a great pianist. It’s the best film I’ve seen for months (and I watch a lot of films). It looks good, it sounds great, the story mixes up a lot of different subjects that you don’t normally get together really well and it has two actresses in it playing the main characters that’re totally awesome. It manages to include prisons, guns, punch-ups, decapitation, Nazis, lesbians, incest, pianos, really intense arguments and a psycho pianist! And it’s nothing like how I’ve just made it sound. It also has a great final scene (the four minutes of the title). It’s not a comedy and it’s actually quite a slow and serious film most of the time. You need to go and watch it. It’s certainly a new entry into the Top 50 Films of All Time in Cactus World. Penny hated it though, so not a great film to watch when you’ve got all the neighbourhood cats around.
Right now I’m listening to “Pathways” by the Frank and Walters.