© Prokino/Studiocanal

Austria 2022

Opening 25 Aug 2022

Directed by: Adrian Goiginger
Writing credits: Adrian Goiginger, Felix Mitterer
Principal actors: Verena Altenberger, Johannes Krisch, Harald Windisch, Gerti Drassl, Jakob Mader

Märzengrund is an agricultural area in a valley surrounded by high mountains in Tirol, Austria. It’s 1968 and 18-year-old Elias (Jakob Mader) lives here with his mother (Gerti Drasi), father (Harald Windisch) and sister Rosi (Iris Unterberger). His father, a farmer who also has cows, is planning for Elias to take over as the next in line. However, Elias seems to be headed in a different direction: good at school and having no interest in either farming or cows. His illiterate mother secretly brings him books (such as Robinson Crusoe), saying, “I don’t want your father to catch you reading.” Due to pressure and opposing expectations concerning his future, he suffers from depression, lying in bed long term. His father sends him to a family house high up in the mountains for six months, where he should recover and then return. However, he climbs even higher, and builds his own small cabin out of rocks and trees. He has found his freedom, his real life: isolation at the top of the world.

We learn many details about Elias in flashbacks. As a young man, he has a car and a girlfriend named Moid. He drives his school friends to a party. He enjoys sketching portraits. Forty years later, as an old man with a beard and suffering from health problems, he is still on top of the mountain. During his long absence, he receives rare visits from a friend.

Haven’t we all sometimes wondered, “where do I belong in this world”? We, too, seek answers and a place, although our solutions are usually not as dramatic as a long absence in the midst of snow and avalanches. Märzengrund is based on a true story which also inspired the play of the same name by Felix Mitterer, from 2016. Experiencing young actor Jakob Mader in his first leading film role, is definitely worth your time and interest. Also excellent is Gerti Drassi as a difficult and controlling mother, who still loves her son. Filmed in Switzerland, partly in Zillertal. (Becky Tan)

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