Dieter Berner’s biopic of one of Austria’s most famous expressionists, “Egon Schiele: Tod und Mädchen” [Eng. Title: Egon Schiele: Death and the Maiden] gives a different take on the great artist’s relationship with his sister Gertrude (Gerti), long-term lover and muse Walburga (Wally), and wife till their early death Edith.
The film begins during the last days of Egon Schiele (Noah Saavedra) – when his sister Gerti (Maresi Riegner) visits his apartment with rations. She sees him slumped on a chair facing a pregnant and dying Edith (Marie Jung) in bed – both had been struck by the Spanish Flu epidemic. He was drawing Edith even then, before passing out due to fatigue.
Egon’s backstory is recollected through Gerti as she attends to her dying brother amidst the chaos and shortages during the final stages of the First World War. She recounts the days when she became Egon’s first nude model at the age of sixteen, and also the unconventional surroundings in which the orphaned siblings grew into adulthood.
Through his bohemian friends, Egon is introduced to cabaret artist Moa (Larissa Breidbach), his first professional model who will also initiate him to sex. Gerti was part of the same circle of friends, and much to the chagrin of her brother who’s also her legal guardian, falls in love with one of the boys in the group. The siblings fall out briefly, but strong bonds reunite them time and again.
When Egon’s mentor and fellow artist Gustav Klimt (Cornelius Obonya) introduces him to model Wally (Valerie Pachner), they soon end up living together, and it is during this phase that Egon also gets into trouble with law following an allegation of abduction of an underage girl. While he’s acquitted of that charge, the judge brands his art pornographic, and imprisons him for making his works accessible to children. Wally stays by his side during the entire ordeal, but leaves him heartbroken when Egon decides to marry a neighbour from across the street…
Berner’s meticulously crafted film gives a sympathetic take on Egon Schiele’s life and exonerates him from allegations of incest and paedophilia. The famous artwork from which the film’s title is taken also makes an appearance in a moving scene, when it is first exhibited by Schiele in Vienna. The cinematography, while ambitious at times, is pleasing nevertheless and the overall production is of a high quality. The performance of Valerie Pachner as Wally is particularly memorable. Recommended Viewing..!
The Nudity: Maresi Riegner, Larissa Breidbach, Valerie Pachner, Noah Saavedra, and others
The film features several instances of posed artistic nudity from Maresi Reigner and Larissa Breidbach. There are also two brief sex scenes featuring them separately. Valerie Pachner and Noah Saavedra appear nude together in one scene, and there are some extras who also appear nude during assorted cabaret scenes.