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Steppenwolf [1974]

Posted by Kemetic1 on March 20, 2014 at 8:30 AM

In the coming days I'd like to share some examples of Spiritual Cinema, which, due to their age, and relative obscurity, you may never have seen before. I encourage you to seek them out. 

As spiritually focused beings, we often feel alone. Sometimes, to all practical purposes, we are alone in what we are feeling or experiencing. In such moments, even our most caring friend may be unable to say the words we need to hear. That's when it may help to sit down by ourselves with an album, a book or a film which can say what we need to hear.

This is one of those films.

STEPPENWOLF [1974] dir. Fred Haines

Cast: Max Von Sydow

Dominque Sanda

Pierre Clementi

Carla Romanelli

Screenplay by Fred Haines, from the novel by Hermann Hesse

 

It's hard to believe this masterpiece was critically slammed upon release in 1974. Sometimes it takes a while for people to realize that they are dealing with something remarkable. A beautiful, intelligent, sensitive film that delicately grapples with some of the most difficult issues a spiritually inclined person is likely to find themselves faced with in life.

The story takes place in the 1920s. It's about a lonely intellectual named Harry, a writer by profession. He is introspective and melancholy, and sometimes wallows in thoughts about suicide. When he was a young man, his best friend at university, also a writer, committed suicide, and this has left a hole in his soul, haunting him. Harry, although outwardly "respectable" is a misfit, who always seems to stick out like a sore thumb, saying the wrong thing and offending others when in "polite" company. He wants to be noble, and this has caused deep conflict in his being, making him feel guilty and ashamed of his animal nature, whom he perceives as a wolf. One night on his lonely wanderings he meets a sensitive and caring prosititute named Hermine in a tavern who reaches out to him, and, together with her friends, shows Harry how to redeem himself, and how to laugh - something which he has completely forgotten how to do.

If you are unfamiliar with the lead actors, you're in for a treat. These are people who will remind you that acting can be Art! My personal favorite in the cast is the great Pierre Clementi, who plays the charming and hedonistic jazz musician Pablo. Max Von Sydow is probably one of the greatest actors who has ever appeared in films. He is the only actor in the cast who has made any films outside of Europe. Dominique Sanda is an incredibly beautiful actress with an amazing gentle quality. Her acting comes straight from her Soul. Look nto her eyes - she makes you feel naked. Not in a bad way, though. Carla Romanelli has a warm vixenish quality, sexy in a friendly, playful way. These actors are all masters of their craft, and they give life to characters who will stay with you. You'll find yourself looking for other films these actors have made once you've seen their work in Steppenwolf.

Steppenwolf is a spiritual odyssey that leads you into the labyrinth of dark and difficult emotions that we are all likely to experience: loss, melancholy, alienation, and even suicide, then back into the Light of renewal, love, hope, and humor. This film is wise and gentle, and it doesn't judge. Obviously not for everyone; but if you have yearnings in your soul, have ever suffered from alienation (and what Spiritual or intelligent being hasn't?), have felt suicidal or lost someone to suicide, this film will almost assuredly speak eloquently and intimately  to you. It also handles Hermine's profession with tact and sensitivity. Dominique Sanda has lines of dialoguie which will make you feel for the plight of women who feel this profession is their only alternative. Indeed, in post WWI Europe, many young women truly did have no other alternative. Pablo is the most modern of the characters. He is frankly bisexual (as are the women), and meaningfully quotes Rolling Stones lyrics! He has a reckless lust for life and is at home in the underworld, getting high and stealing cars - but even so, has a noble, enlightened, tender side to his character. I'm still a little bit in love with him.

Filmed in Basel, Kanton Basel Stadt Switzerland, and Hamburg, Germany. The locations are beautiful and perfect for the story. The ambiance of the 1920's is perfectly captured by the fashions and the music. There is partial nudity, which is tasteful and will only offend those who object to all nudity. Likewise, the violence is extremely minimal and stylized, and should not offend anyone. Ahead of its time, people are a bit more sophisticated now, and beginning to re-discover this gem. It is available on DVD. Dual language: English and German, w/ English subtitles. You can also find it on various torrent trackers, if you're a pirate.

 

Here is the animated sequence: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwDGVP1tMTg

The trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQ8xjVASGX8

The novel by Hermann Hesse is a classic and quite an easy read. Hesse was a popular author in the 1960s and 1970s, and influenced many creative and spiritual people, including me. In his lifetime, Hesse was close friends with the psychologist Carl Gustav Jung. Hesse's writings embrace both Eastern mysticism and Jungian psychology. Steppenwolf is the best introduction to his writing, if you are curious.

 

Just one word of caution: This film is a Magic Theatre, for madmen only. Or so the film itself claims! :lol:

Send me a message if you'd like to see this movie, and need help finding it. I'd love to hear your feedback after viewing it too.

Thanks for letting me share with you. :)

Categories: MOVIE REVIEWS, SPIRITUALITY, WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT

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6 Comments

Reply Kemetic1
6:27 PM on March 24, 2014 
ABB says...
Sounds like a great recommendation and an ever better conversation piece! I will definitely be checking in for this one! Thank you fam!


I'd love to hear your feelings on the film once you've seen it. This is one of these movies I like to share around, and yes, talk with others about! :)
Reply Kemetic1
6:20 PM on March 24, 2014 
ElectricLady says...
For some reason, the title Steppenwolf sounds very familiar to me? Maybe I saw it as a child but didn't realize what I was watching? My mother was and still is a big fan of movies from the 50s. 60s and 70s. Anyway, you have definitely peaked my interest because like you said, anyone whose on this spiritual path can relate to the character you described to one degree or another. Obviously, this movie was ahead of its time but would do well now! I have a relative who has a massive movie collection, I will inquire about this one and if I can't find it, I will reach out to you. Thank you for bringing this to our attention in such a detailed way.


Greetings, ElectricLady - love your name :) This is such a beautiful film, and well.worth making an effort to track down. Occasionally somebody posts it on youtube, but blink and it's gone. The DVD is disappearing as well, so I will be happy to help you (and anyone else) to see it, one way or another, if needed. :)
Reply Merdan Amanov
6:57 AM on March 24, 2014 
Awesome review, gonna have to check it up now!
Thank you :)
Reply AstralBooBaby
12:24 PM on March 23, 2014 
Sounds like a great recommendation and an ever better conversation piece! I will definitely be checking in for this one! Thank you fam!
Reply SheOnAnotherLevel
10:04 AM on March 22, 2014 
Oh yeah, there was someone who created a forum about a couple of weeks ago, talking about the wolf within and feeling alienated or something along those lines. I hope they definitely check out this movie too!
Reply SheOnAnotherLevel
10:02 AM on March 22, 2014 
For some reason, the title Steppenwolf sounds very familiar to me? Maybe I saw it as a child but didn't realize what I was watching? My mother was and still is a big fan of movies from the 50s. 60s and 70s. Anyway, you have definitely peaked my interest because like you said, anyone whose on this spiritual path can relate to the character you described to one degree or another. Obviously, this movie was ahead of its time but would do well now! I have a relative who has a massive movie collection, I will inquire about this one and if I can't find it, I will reach out to you. Thank you for bringing this to our attention in such a detailed way.