Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas | Chicago Reader
Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas

Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas

Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas

Previously filmed by Volker Schlondorff in 1969, Heinrich von Kleist's historical novel Michael Kohlhaas dramatizes the affair of Hans Kohlhase, a 16th-century merchant who responded to injustice in the court system by leading a terror campaign through Saxony. For this 2013 adaptation, director Arnaud des Pallières grounds the historical spectacle in a hard materiality, presenting the living conditions in vivid (and often quite unattractive) detail. The film is almost monotonously somber, though not in a bad way—when it erupts into violence or settles briefly into moments of intimacy, the shift in tone can be surprising, even invigorating. Mads Mikkelsen is typically fine in the title role, though Denis Levant steals the show with a spectacular cameo as Martin Luther. With Bruno Ganz and Jacques Nolot. In French and German with subtitles.

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