Sven Taddicken • Director
Therapy with metaphors
by Johannes Bonke – German Films Quarterly
What would you do if you only had a half a year left to live? Would you do good things for others or thumb your nose at the rest of the world and stay alone? With these existential questions, German director Sven Taddicken confronts the viewers in his new film, Emma’s Bliss [+see also:
film profile]. With poetic metaphors and archaic story structures, he tells of dying and the lust for life, of love in the face of death, and the search for and finding of happiness in the darkest hour of existence. "When I plan a film, there are two levels for me, entertainment and the therapeutic effect," says the director. "If my crazy love story about death compels people to open up to the theme, I have reached my goal. I would like to set references, incite, formulate yearnings."
Critics call this form of narration "superelevation" (Ueberhoehung), but Taddicken prefers to call it abstraction or reduction to the concrete. "People are longing for a film that grabs them and shakes them," explains the 32-year-old filmmaker regarding the philosophy behind his works. "Metaphors seem more appropriate to me for this than real events. To convey a central message, I can’t do that at all, I am too undecided for that. But to raise a question and to awaken themes with it that are sleeping within me – that is my intention."
Taddicken does this in that he tells of people who are otherwise standing in the shadows, speaks about themes that others pretend don’t exist. In 2001, when he told the story about a mentally handicapped person and his sexual inclinations, the moralists screamed – and the trade press celebrated. “I especially want to push open doors,” admits Taddicken, and at the same time, makes it clear that his materials should not be played outside of the mainstream.
The numbers prove that Taddicken is on the right track: if his debut was completely ignored by the German moviegoers despite his 18 festival awards, with Emma’s Bliss, he succeeded in becoming a critic’s and public’s darling. The expectations for awards were exceeded, and soon the film will start with 60 prints in Spain, in addition to Austria, Switzerland, France, Denmark, and Brazil. "With the numbers, you can see in black and white that my first film was much more successful abroad than it was in Germany. Here at home, people only saw the student film debut. In foreign countries, people simply had more confidence in the film."
The interest in Taddicken’s materials is for a good reason, as his films are the figurehead of a new generation of filmmakers who want to bring a fresh breath of air to Germany’s dusty film scene with another, more courageous and sovereign film language. "The German film, that was, until now – if you boil it down radically – either comedies or films that dealt with German history," summarizes Taddicken. "This – and people who know the branch agree – will change radically in the future."
The question remains whether Taddicken will continue to write his screenplays himself. "In my heart, I am probably actually a type of writer-filmmaker, because my material always affects people. But I have learned that other authors simply write better than I do. Furthermore, I enjoy the luxury of standing on the set and having a screenplay in which I haven’t turned every sentence around 3000 times. We have material – and together we all look at what we can get out of it."
So that he doesn’t bore himself or his viewers, his next film will be set in the late middle ages on the rainy North Sea. "Germany simply needs a bizarre pirate film", laughs Taddicken. Filming will begin in Fall of 2007.
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