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Schultze Gets the Blues

3.9 out of 5 stars 93 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Anyone who enjoys cinematic fare that's off the beaten path will happily follow a zydeco-loving salt miner on a rejuvenating musical odyssey from Germany to Louisiana. Film festival award-winner Horst Krause stars as the taciturn, barrel-shaped Schultze,

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Anyone who enjoys cinematic fare that's off the beaten path will happily follow a zydeco-loving salt miner on a rejuvenating musical odyssey from Germany to Louisiana. Film festival award-winner Horst Krause stars as the taciturn, barrel-shaped Schultze, who is settling uneasily into retirement. He spends his drabby days in his small town polishing his garden gnomes, drinking with friends, visiting his mother in a nursing home, and playing traditional polkas on his accordion. At the 30-minute mark, Schultze, and the film, come to life when he hears zydeco on the radio and becomes enthralled in the music and the culture, going so far as to introduce his friends to such delicacies as jambalaya. .He performs zydeco at a music festival, scandalizing some of the locals. But his music club selects him to represent them in Texas at a sister city celebration, and Schultze's life takes unexpected detours. Fans of Jim Jarmusch and Aki Kaurismaki may find director Michael Schorr a kindred minimalist spirit with his long takes and deadpan sensibility. But Schultze Gets the Blues dances to its own quirky rhythms. While Schultze's journey comes to a downbeat conclusion, the film manages to end on a lovely grace note. --Donald Liebenson

Special Features

  • In German with English subtitles
  • Audio Commentary (in German with English subtitles) by Writer/Director Michael Schorr

Product Details

  • Actors: Horst Krause, Harald Warmbrunn, Karl-Fred Müller, Ursula Schucht, Hannelore Schubert
  • Directors: Michael Schorr
  • Writers: Michael Schorr
  • Producers: Claudia Tronnier, Jens Körner, Oliver Niemeier, Thomas Riedel
  • Format: Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: German (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: August 30, 2005
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009W5IQ0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,148 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Schultze Gets the Blues" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. Karasik on April 23, 2005
This story of a retired German miner who becomes inspired to play zydeco music (instead of the traditional polka) on his accordion unfolds as delicately as a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis. If you're the type of viewer who becomes impatient with subtle, real-time narrative, you might find it tedious. But this film is beautifully done, and even the very slow scenes are enhanced by droll sight gags and persuasive glimpses of emotion. Schultze's dreary northern German town, with its cast of mostly benign denizens, becomes utterly endearing, as are the characters Schultze encounters on his odyssey in search of zydeco. The film's great success is that we come to totally identify with the seeming "lumpenproletariat" of a protagonist as his gentle and poetic soul is revealed. While it is brilliantly grounded in minute details, the film works beautifully as an exploration of the individual's quest for self-realization and artistic expression. And indeed, though it keeps its focus modest and does not overtly address the "big questions," the film offers a more sophisticated meditation on spirituality than many others that try a lot harder.
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One simply can't dismiss as philistines all the reviewers here who wail about the boredom and slowness of this film. The film's pace is slow. The camera lingers on beautifully composed scenes, as if in love with itself for finding such a lovely frame. Such criticism is legitimate and points out a fault. Yet the story of the German accordian player Schultz, freshly put out to pasture with his buddies from their mining jobs, is unique and touching. Schultz himself is a big lump of a man, and a lump of a presence. When he finally has his moment of awakening to zydeco music and starts to play it, almost obsessively, I wanted to hear more. Unfortunately, there isn't a whole lot more, even when Schultz finds himself smack in the middle of zydeco country. I really wanted him to find some band mates and go at it in earnest. That was my hope, but it was in vain. Nonetheless, Schultz's transformation from a polka-playing traditional kind of guy to an adventurous traveler finally enjoying his life to the very end makes for an interesting story, even with the frustrations that are built into it.
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Michael Schorr's "Schultze Gets the Blues" is a quiet, droll and unexpectedly poignant film that--like its protagonist--takes its own sweet time getting to its destination, but both the journey and the destination are hard to forget. Schultze (Horst Krause) is a bored, phlegmatic retiree and polka accordionist in an ugly, dull German mining town. One day, however, he hears a snatch of zydeco music over the radio, and from then on zydeco and the land of its birth--the Louisiana bayou country--become his twin obsessions. An invitation to a polka festival in Texas gives him the excuse he dreams of, and soon he's playing hooky from the festival, puttering into the bayous in a rented shrimp boat. "Schultze Gets the Blues" is reminiscent of "Stroszek," Werner Herzog's story of Germans lost in the vast strangeness of America, only much more benign. It is odd and asymmetrical (except for the matching shots at the beginning and end), never taking us precisely where we expect to go--kind of like life. Schorr makes Schultze a courtly, portly, lovable Everyman, and what begins as comedy ends as a moving tribute to the philosophy of Carpe Diem. "Schultze Gets the Blues," with its Teutonically deliberate pacing and schnapps-dry wit, is not for every taste. But those who are willing to follow Schultze and Schorr wherever they lead will be rewarded in the end.
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This movie is never boring, superficial or pretentious. If you want boring, supeficial and pretentious just go see any of the Matrix sequels.

This film has also been described as a character study, but I think it is very much more than that. It the story of the quest, common to most people, to find something authentic within the all to often pointless conditions of modern life. The key images are the huge mountain of coal slag behind Shultze's garden and house and the repeated image of the silent, relentless windmill. The mountain of slag is the coal waste which Shultze has spend most of his existence mining and which will eventually cause his death from lung disease; the windmill represents the ceaseless passage of time, which is indifferent to how well or how poorly we spend our days between the beginning and the end which it provides for us. Together they point to the absurdity of his (and our) existence. The character Laurent shows the true way to live within this rather ruthless reality. She is a contrast to his catatonic mother, her roommate in the nursing home.

For whatever reason Cajun music quite suddenly touches something within Shultze and sparks his quest for something better; the rest of the film is about his rather uncertain journey to realize this odd hint of something authentic. What he finds along the way are good relationships, and many other people who are seeking, each in their own way, the same thing (e.g. the flamenco-dancing barmaid, the motorcross passions of his retired friend, the ill-tempered poet/switchman). Although Shultze is misunderstood sometimes, on the whole people are more helpful to him than hurtful. Eventually he finds a brief taste of the authentic life he is seeking, albeit just in time.
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