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The Legend of the Holy Drinker              
                               Page #1

"Where a homeless mind turns to matter"

"There is so much that could be said about this movie, and I will barely scratch the surface. Why do I love it so? Because so much is communicated with so few words. Because you can’t help but fall in love with Andreas as he is, in a strange way perhaps, complete. There is a sense of ‘acceptance’ about him. A sense of him being in the moment. Of living the life that happens. And when things change, he quietly follows where they lead. I love his joy in the small moments. One of my absolute favourite scenes is his first trip to the café, and sidling down into his seat he catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror – a little worse for wear – but that humorous scene as he leans sideways to take a look at what is himself just flips my heart over and makes me smile. There are too many other moments to mention really – but they include the wrapping of china and glass, the pleasure in a hotel room and a fresh made bed. Feeling unable to dance with his old paramour.
The film is not so much about redemption as epiphany. I wrote a poem about that too (see below). The film seems to say that there is always more than one chance, and that somehow not succeeding completely is OK, so long as you don’t turn away from trying.
Although the story is primarily about Andreas, it tumbles with other wonderful characters: the fleeting meetings with the Stranger (the superb Anthony Quayle), the young prostitute (a ‘tag’ almost an insult to this woman simply earning a living). The wonderful scenes and imaginings with his parents. The two main women in his life. His drunken friend, and the gentle boxer – somehow he seems gentle. If I were only allowed to keep half a dozen films this would be one of them. I’d hate not to have a copy of this movie. I’m sure I will come back to this thread because as soon as I have posted it I will remember some other thought or image it inspired!
EPIPHANIES: Like Andreas whose Legend is Holy,
my ceaseless reaching for certain goals is like that drinker who,
in trying to repay a debt to an eccentric angel,
grasps and slides back; makes new friends,
sees himself in a new light, sees himself in an old
mirror or through a glass filled with the blood of burgundy, sanguine. And hence views the black hole of time
where there, reclining, a happier yet darker reality.
Things captured, things lost, striding always to reach
a purpose, always out of range by a lucky whisker.
For what he finds on his journey is a happiness he had forgotten, a last chance to dance and spar, an old love, a brief flirtation.
If only I am so lucky in failure I will be content! (CJM)
Inspired by the movie THE LEGEND OF THE HOLY DRINKER based on a novel by Joseph Roth." Caroline

"Such beautyful writing !:) I love that movie to;but couldn't express my emotions better. You said it all!...." Maria

"Dear Caroline, dear Rutger, I felt the want to answer on this treath, also when it seems like caroline said it all. in moments like this i feel so helpless, because i know in this language i cant express exactly enough what i really want to say...but i am sure you will understand and rutger too(and he is able to ask me in language to be more exact - legend of a holy drinker is in my eyes the best film rutger ever made. surely together with the shorty, the room, in one row.
i am not sure about the message in this film, or if theres one at all. yes, as you said, caroline...its ok to fail if you never stop trying. but also when you stop trying or never try...its also ok, because its a humans decision. The sadness about whats happend with one in his/her life is the main feeling(means much more to me than a message)this film gives me. . surely with all this little sunshine phases a life can have. and the beauty of the simple and the little things. I love how the director implements all the figures andreas meets or met in his life. i dearly love the figure of the tailor who gives him this removaljob. the rarely moves towards this two men. the "pictures" the camera chose are so discret, without any unnessesary. its seems shy. as if the camera is shy, tried not to be intrusive. not to go too much in the life of the films figures. Sometimes it feels for me like one said to me, be careful! dont come too close, as if you can hurt the filmfigures if you come too close. but nevertheless, you got the feeling, you can see everything. to identify the persons, their innermost, their feelings. them. no one of them seems/feels weird for me. I dearly love this film and surely its under the first of my top100. together with fellinis clowns, la strada or sauras carmen, I also love mucho. Ihope its true and you come up with lots more of your thoughts about legend of a holy drinker. love your thoughts. ciao..." Nax

''This is why I like the threads about Rutgers movies.
I have seen a lot of his works but then I come across something like this, a thought about a movie of Rutger's I haven't seen and it inspires me to go get it and watch it.
Thanks for the inspiration" Diz

"DizzyBabe you MUST see this one, its a gem and a half!" Minty

"Hi! Yeah me too, I have too many favourite scenes… How about improvised barbershop by the river, beside the bridge, the sun on Andreas’s face, the barber holding the looking glass between his teeth…? Or Andreas in the bath tub washing his shirt? I’ve seen it before, and again, and I’ve read the book too - I sure know how it ends - yet I can’t help but hope during those scenes, that everything will turn out good in the end… that’s the viewers mind I guess, can’t stay passive, it's rebelling, while gentle Andreas (accepting his karma, so calm and patient!) drinks himself to death. Rutger I know you don’t like to drink alc (thank God LOL ~ that was scary realistic) I wonder what was really in the glass? Ribena? Would you still remember?" Nataly

"Well, I’m back. Always flirting with the possibility of being a little superficial but it doesn’t really work;)) I’ve something else to add/admit. There is a scene in this film that really gets me. Andreas looking into his passport and there is this stamp on it – no good any more. Gets me so because I know what it’s like to live (live*is maybe too strong a word) with no valid papers. It’s like standing on the edge of abyss and looking in (because you have to) and wondering how come you didn’t fall in yet. What thin strings are still keeping you on? It’s when a push in the back would be almost welcome – as much as dreaded - setting the things in some kind of motion. Falling would be something even, maybe...? but instead, one is there, hanging on, uncomfortably; forced into laziness (or “laziness”) when other ppl the same age are finishing education or working towards their pension… one has time, lots of time but how good is that, in those circumstances, can you imagine?… it’s a parody of freedom, it’s… lots of bad stuff.
This is the role that shows better than any other (I think) Rutger’s great talent, and CAPACITY for understanding... this very complex situation - having no place to go, and what it brings with it, what it does to a human, the inner conflict… one must have compassion, and the ability to think like a person trapped in that situation, on some level, before one can present it and make anyone believe it… and, you know, it’s very believable…" Nataly

"I would like to add some info concerning The Legend of the Holy Drinker. It’s something mentioned in a long video interview included in the relevant DVD recently released here in Italy. Unfortunately, as far as I know, there is no translation or subtitles for this documentary. It’s an interview to Tullio Kezich, who wrote the screenplay together with the director Ermanno Olmi. Kezich, in this documentary, explains extensively on how they decided to translate Roth’s novel into film. He says that after they had started working on the screenplay, soon Ermanno felt that they needed for the main character - contrary to Ermanno's habits - a professional actor. Robert De Niro had heard about this project and badly wanted to work with Ermanno, and even though he had some work commitments for the 3 subsequent years, he was ready to free himself just to be able to work with Olmi. So, Ermanno fixed an appointment with De Niro in Paris, in that very same hotel whose only name is 'Hotel' where also some films scenes are shot. De Niro booked a room there under the name 'Mr Silvera'. Ermanno doesn't speak English, De Niro doesn't speak Italian, but with the help of the producer Cicutto, who was translating, they explained to De Niro what the novel and the film plot were about. While they were explaining it, they saw De Niro face's turning into a very surprised expression. He started asking, very puzzled "What sort of plot is that? What does it all mean?” But nonetheless he was still interested in working on this project with Ermanno. Obviously, Ermanno also had a long talk about The Legend’s meaning and relevant role with Rutger, and they soon got along with each other so well that Ermanno soon asked Rutger to get into Andreas’ role. Kezich also tells about a ‘technical’ episode - they were thinking to cut some useless frames from the scene where Rutger is in the restaurant with his former secret love (he had killed her violent husband etc). Some small ‘silent’ details such as the too many looks exchanges from Rutger to the lady, from her to him, the knife, the fork, the glasses. Well, they started cutting, they watched the new edited scene and.... it didn't mean at all what it previously meant, it had totally lost ’IT’! They had just realized that it was perfect as it had been formerly cut..... Those small details were only apparently useless details... There's so much to be told about this film! I think that the documentary Rutger made during its shooting, entitled 'Prosit Ermanno' would reveal so many unknown, interesting and poetic facts about it." Grazia

Hi Grazia! I’ve enjoyed this read and would certainly like to find out more about the making of, and other connected stories.
I like the movie trivia too… er, Robert De Niro doesn’t speak Italian?
I’m amused; I thought he WAS Italian. Well, American-Italian.Like, his name?...
And then there is of course that misleading “Bangles” song…LOL" Nataly

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