This tale of a farm being inherited by the peasants who worked it following the death of its owner has its comic moments. These include the reading of the will, and the burial of the little-loved owner. But what first appears as a comedy ends as a tragedy. The world might be turned up side down in the great cities of Europe in the early years of the twentieth century, but not in rural Austria. This is a time of transition in the rural community from a society dominated by the big farmers and the church, but the powers-that-be won't take radical change without a fight.
Originally there are ten peasants who inherit, but quickly this is reduced to seven, and thereafter, one by one, each is bought off or frightened into walking into the sunset. Lukas, one of the leaders says that when he was a peasant life was east: it was work, sleep, eat; but now life is more complicated.
Filmed in the Muhlviertel of upper Austria (that is, north of the Danube - this is hardly, then, an Alpine western, as the blurb announces), this is a morality tale with a tragic ending. The soundtrack consists of the melancholy of Satie's piano pieces or the passion of Caruso's rendition of Verdi's `La Donna e Mobile': alas, it is the former that is heard more often than the latter.
Beautifully shot, finely acted, I first saw this movie on BBC4 and have been searching for it on DVD for a long time. It repays repeated watching.
`Die Siebtelbauern' is set in Austria in the 1930's we have some peasants who work for a miserly and brutal farmer. Then one day he is murdered, the culprit is soon found but so is the farmers will. The surprising thing is he has left the farm to all of the workers. However, only farmers can actually be farmers and so the local farmers' clique set about undermining the efforts of the new collective.
Soon splits appear in the ranks at the new farm but Lukas - who was a foundling- manages to hold things together with the help of feisty Emmy. We also have Severin who is the narrator. So the fight is on to keep the farm, make it work and enjoy themselves - however the mischief and skulduggery that is afoot is never too far away and it is clear from the start that things are going to come to a head.
I really enjoyed this film, it does have a western feel in terms of land ownership, gun fights and traditional good and evil. It is all in German with ok sub titles - I wish they would actually translate what was said - but it did not detract from the film. Well acted, well made a nice sense of right and wrong and even a few laughs along the way - one for real fans of European cinema.