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Schultze Gets the Blues

1 rating: 4.0
A movie

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Genre: Drama
Release Date: February 18, 2005
MPAA Rating: PG
1 review about Schultze Gets the Blues

A fine movie for those who like small, quirky films, unusual lead characters and gumbo

  • Aug 31, 2011
Rating:
+4
If you like sweet-natured movies with unlikely lead characters, particularly when they find themselves breaking out of old habits, you might like the German film Schultze Gets the Blues. It's the first film from director Michael Schorr and he brings it off with style.
 
Herr Schultze (Horst Krause) is a heavy-set man, probably in his late fifties, who with two friends has been eased into retirement at the commercial salt mine he has worked at for years. Calling Schultze portly would do poor justice to his sizable belly. He's not flabby; he's earned those inches through hard work and plenty of beer. He lives alone and has never thought much about fancy ideas like life. He takes afternoon naps, drinks beer with his two friends, washes his garden trolls and plays his accordion at polka parties. He's a slow moving, slow talking, deliberate man. Life is just there, nothing is happening in it, and Schultze is slowly being bored to death without realizing it.
 
Then one night he turns the radio dial at home and suddenly hears a fast, strange style of accordion playing he's never heard before. He's come across a broadcast of Louisiana zydeco music. He listens, puzzled. He turns the radio off and starts to go back to bed, then turns and switches the music on again. He listens some more. He tries to figure out the music he's listening to. He turns the radio off again, heads back to bed, but then stops and puts on his accordion. He picks out the tune, then plays it faster and faster, trying to match the zydeco beat. Herr Schultze doesn't know it yet but he has just changed his life.
 
Before long Schultze is playing his zydeco song before puzzled polka audiences. He finds a recipe for jambalaya and cooks it for his two best friends, who've never had such a spicy dish before. Schultze smiles approvingly as they keep eating and drink more beer. He gets part time jobs to earn money for a trip to bayou country in the States. And he wins a contest which will give him enough money to go to his town's sister city in America, New Braunfels, Texas, to compete in a music festival. Schultze gets there, listens to the others and realizes he's out of his league. Instead of going home to spend more time polishing the garden gnomes and taking naps in the afternoon, he buys a small blue boat with an enclosed cabin and sets out from coastal Texas into Louisiana bayou territory. Schultze can speak probably no more than a dozen words of English. He also is one of the most sincere, innocent and non-threatening people you'll ever meet. Schultze meets people he never thought of meeting yet somehow always wanted to. Old men playing dominos in a friendly bar in Moulton, Texas. A Czech band made up of cheerful Americans on the Texas gulf coast. Middle-aged cajuns dancing to a zydeco beat in a bayou bar. A woman and her daughter on a boat who give him a glass of water and invite him to stay for a creole lunch of crab and shrimp. The postcards and pictures he sends back to his friends bemuse them. Schultze also finds a contentment that we share with him.
 
The movie takes its time. There is no flashy cutting. The director isn't afraid of setting up his camera and simply letting a scene unfold. The first half of the movie when Schultze is at his home can sometimes seem as slow-moving as Schultze himself, but stay with it. Once you get into the rhythm of the movie, it works. There is little dialogue, especially when Schultze gets to Texas, just the efforts of a well-meaning man to be understood, and of the efforts of well-meaning Texans, Creoles and Cajuns to understand him.
 
Schultze Gets the Blues has a dead-pan sense of humor about it at times. It can be poignant but it's not sad. Even the ending is not too sentimental. The movie is well photographed, especially the long, gray days in Schultze's home town and the lush, bayou landscapes that make up the last half of the film.
A fine movie for those who like small, quirky films, unusual lead characters and gumbo A fine movie for those who like small, quirky films, unusual lead characters and gumbo A fine movie for those who like small, quirky films, unusual lead characters and gumbo A fine movie for those who like small, quirky films, unusual lead characters and gumbo

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