Here’s something about Herbert Vesely’s 1981 biopic “Egon Schiele – Exzess und Bestrafung” [Eng. Title: Egon Schiele: Excess and Punishment]…
It’s about the later years of one the most important expressionists of the twentieth century – Egon Schiele, the great man is way high up in my list of finest illustrators ever – his style has influenced so many artists that followed, and I could just as well spend all day simply admiring his works. Here’s a few examples of his work for those who don’t already know him…
I’b been searching for this film for a long time, and promptly ordered the DVD when I located a vendor – alas, it was of terrible quality – a VHS-Rip with Greek hard-subtitles. I located another version later, only this time, it was an Italian version, with a logo displayed throughout the duration of the film – obviously another VHS-Rip, sold as a DVD..! I finally located a very good quality version online, with the original German audio – for FREE – ironic isn’t it..! Anyway, bless the soul who posted it – one could finally see the film in ‘almost all’ its glory – almost all because some explicit nude scenes had been deleted from this version – which actually doesn’t matter at all because the narrative is a lot more coherent than the Italian version I bought earlier.
My Review: As a film production, it scores on many levels – in terms of beautiful cinematography, excellent score, fine acting, and satisfactory albeit unconventional direction – the narrative is non-linear and it requires attention to grasp what’s the present and what’s the flashback. I was however particulaly impressed by the casting – Mathieu Carrière and Jane Birkin appear to be born for their respective roles – and Ms Birkin especially delivers all the emotions demanded of her character triumphantly (and what a babe she is too..!).
Most of the nudity involved in the film are imagined sequences, either by the protagonists, or the Magistrate prosecuting Egon Schiele for alleged pornography and perversion. He had been accused of displaying explicit images where minors could see it, having sexual liaisons with a fifteen year old girl, and creating perverse art. More than half the film happens while he awaits trial in prison, while his girlfriend/model Vally desperately seeks legal help to get him released. After his acquittal, the film focuses on his marriage to Edith, a beautiful neighbor in Vienna that he falls in love with. This film definitely needs to be made more accessible, not only for good cinema, but also a piece of art-decor history…
Twenty year old Karina Fallenstein [credited as Nina Fallenstein] plays a fifteen year old teenager Tatjana – the inital scenes involve a rain-drenched Tatjana knocking on Egon’s door and asking to be let in – she had run away from home, and wants to stay for the night before setting off to Vienna to live with her grandmother. Jane Birkin, playing Vally – Egon Schiele’s lover and former model, objects but later relents. The later scenes are imagined sequences, either by the Egon Schiele character, or the magistrate prosecuting him…
According to the film, Egon Schiele was a close friend of Gustav Klimt, also his mentor, who introduces his special model Vally – Jane Birkin – to Egon. Rest of the scenes in the clip involve Egon reminiscing his lover while in prison.
Another imagined scene where the prosecuting magistrate imagines Lini through one of Egon Schiele’s illuatrations, posing for the artist – played by the gorgeous Martina Schmatelka.
Some scenes involving Christine Kaufmann, who plays Edith, Egon Schiele’s wife, first on their wedding night, and later after he returns from war duty.