Steppenwolf 1974 R

(22) IMDb 6.3/10
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Max von Sydow (The Exorcist, The Seventh Seal, Pelle the Conqueror) and Dominique Sanda (The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, The Conformist) star in this ambitious adaptation of Nobel Prize-winning Herman Hesse's classic novel about the dual nature (the spiritual vs. the physical) of man and his eternal internal struggle to find peace within himself. This exciting version employs animation, special effects, camera trickery, color synthesizers, superimpositions, and fast and slow motion to convey the complex inner life of the aging tortured writer (von Sydow) who encounters the beautiful muse and alter-ego (Sanda) on his journey of self.

Max von Sydow, Dominique Sanda
1 hour, 48 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama
Director Fred Haines
Starring Max von Sydow, Dominique Sanda
Supporting actors Pierre Clémenti, Carla Romanelli, Roy Bosier, Alfred Baillou, Niels-Peter Rudolph, Helmut Förnbacher, Charles Regnier, Eduard Linkers, Silvia Reize, Helen Hesse, Sunnyi Melles
Studio Egami
MPAA rating R (Restricted)
Rental rights 7-day viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

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Customer Reviews

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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Brian Whistler VINE VOICE on August 11, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The Film

I always thought Steppenwolf to be an unfilmable book. Steeped in Jungian psychology and written in an entirely subjective tone, it is immensely complex and thought provoking and one of Hesse's darker books. Although a generation of flower children identified with it, Hesse claimed that a person had to be approaching 50 to fully understand it, as it really is a novel about midlife crisis. It is about finding salvation in self forgiveness and inner tranquility in a world ever spiraling towards madness. As such, it is as relevant today as its setting in prewar (WWII) Germany. The madmen are still out there, set on destruction, and there are still those brave souls who feel compelled to rage against it.

But this is really a novel about the inner journey, the journey of the soul. It needed a visionary director to bring it to the screen and found one in director Fred Haines, who took up this difficult book and against all odds, delivered a flawed masterpiece-flawed because of the overuse of dated video effects and the preponderance of blaring analog synthesizers during the hallucinatory third act. This has been the most criticized segment of the film and it does present some problems to modern viewers. But as representations of psychedelic trips on the silver screen go, it's at least a cut above some of the other often embarassing attempts of the 70's. Still, it is the weakest part of the film and unfortunately, the climax.

Yet standing back, there are many more things to like than dislike about this unique and ambitious film.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Breyel on September 7, 2006
Format: DVD
The 4 star rating is for the film, not the novel Steppenwolf: A Novel. The book itself merits 5 stars. The DVD looks like a pan and scan version of a VHS master, although with a menu of chapters, subtitles and the original trailer. In the German issue of this DVD you get an order form and write up on Hermann Hesse's collected works.

Max von Sydow (Harry Haller), Dominique Sanda (Hermine), Pierre Clementi (Pablo) and Carla Romanelli (Maria) deliver credible performances, faithful to their respective characters. Storyline is true to Herman Hesse's novel as well. The editing is hurried and choppy in the first half of the film, making it difficult to connect emotionally with the Steppenwolf's plight, whereas the surrealistic scenes in The Magic Theatre are superbly executed (pardon the pun). The illustrations used to depict the Steppenwolf's metamorphosis are reminiscent of the German Expressionist film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Restored Authorized Edition), and I suppose would be appropriate considering the story dovetails with the Expressionist period in Weimar Germany. Nevertheless, it's a film not to be overlooked if you love this amazing book by one of the 20th century's great writers.

"Steppenwolf" is in part an autobiographical story exploring the mid-life crisis of Hermann Hesse. Viewers should be aware that German nationalists up to this point had criticised Hesse for his pacifist writings and activities during WWI.
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Format: DVD
I'm awarding this flawed film 5 stars despite all the things that trendy, critical people trash it for -- it's datedness, the franco-italian-british coproduction problems of dialogue and accents. ANY film gets dated to younger eyes, and there are few, well except for "La Dolce Vita", that manage to always look timeless.

Why 5 stars? Well, I don't think I would have had a sensible map for my strange life had I not seen this film way back when. Harry's encounters with Pablo and Hermine mirror my own journey -- not just inner symbols -- but inner symbols that came to life in my outer world. It perplexes me that people suggest that the third act is a hallucincation. The whole point of the film is that your entire so-called existence is a hallucination, pal: a trick of Maya, a deft Matrix, so to speak, that has been foisted upon us for... ever since a body appeared on consciousness and mouthed "I AM".

Of course, some will say that's a romantic notion, or some existential nonsense. I leave viewers to suffer their own life-concepts and belief systems and make them real as they want to. I found a lovely truth and a great youth and early adulthood in STEPPENWOLF that continues to shape my journey.

Does this film have flaws. Why, yes. Some of the dialog is arch, especially some of Pablo's pronouncements. One wishes Fred Haines had enjoyed access to current technology to reshoot and reimagine the so-called "Magic Theater" sequence. I personally have no problem with Gruntz' score -- other than it has never been pressed for consumption. It's a lovely mix of waltzes, 30s jazz, and mid-70s synth-jazz. I still hum a lot of its memorable tunes. There's a great sax solo in the Black Eagle when Harry Haller and his alter-ego Hermine dance the foxtrot.
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