The Frozen Heart | Chicago Reader

The Frozen Heart

Swiss filmmaker Xavier Koller (Journey of Hope) wrote and directed this 1979 satire about the greed, nastiness, and insularity of villagers in the northern Alps, a part of Switzerland that seems untouched by modernity. Two tramps--an umbrella mender and a basket weaver--meet by chance in a forest between two villages and become friends; when one freezes to death, the other vows to give him a Christian burial, but neither village will cooperate. Adapted from a short story by Meinrad Inglin, a chronicler of provincial behavior, this is rather heavy-handed in its treatment of the villagers, and its authentic dialects and references to rival subcultures are probably best appreciated by the Swiss, who made the film a success in its initial release. Still, the snowy woods and cramped village cabins heighten the feeling of isolation and despair. In German with subtitles. 108 min.

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