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Der Hund begraben
Germany 2016

Opening 23 Mar 2017

Directed by: Sebastian Stern
Writing credits: Sebastian Stern
Principal actors: Justus von Dohnanyi, Juliane Köhler, Georg Friedrich, Ricarda Zimmerer, Ben Cervilla Fischer

A Finnish conglomerate buys up Hans Waldmann’s (von Dohnányi) company and he is no longer needed. He receives some severance pay, which is not the same as having a job, as he learns while sitting around at home, while his wife and two teenaged children go their separate ways. Nobody needs him. Then a stray dog adopts them and moves in. The situation gets worse instead of better, as his wife Yvonne (Köhler) literally falls in love with the dog and names him Kurt (like Kurt Cobain) – the new center of her life. Hans takes his severance pay and buys a convertible (without telling Yvonne) and uses it to help make the dog disappear. This does not improve his feeling of uselessness, because Yvonne spends even more time looking for her pet, and he only receives praise when he accompanies her and pretends to search also. Through several turns in the story, he brings home a stranger named Mike (Friedrich), who easily slips into the center of attention, formerly occupied by Kurt.

Director Stern said that here the dog is a substitute for the husband and then the stranger is a substitute for the dog. He considers this film to be about non-communication and inability to solve problems. Da ist der Hund begraben (see title) is a German saying, which literally is: “The dog is buried there” but figuratively means “That is the heart of the problem.” This is a chance to see some successful German actors, especially Justus von Dohnányi. He was born in northern Germany (Lübeck) and studied acting in Hamburg. He often played at the Hamburg Thalia Theater before taking off to success in film, both as an actor and, then, as director. This film is being described as a “black comedy” but I suggest that it is a fairy tale, with a moral to the story, and you can decide what the moral is. (Becky Tan)

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