Lovable, joyous SWING glistens among gems of Denver festival... is beautifully photographed and has been justifiably compared to Bergman’s FANNY AND ALEXANDER although it lacks most of that masterpiece’s inherent darkness… With one film Adlon assures his place among the foremost contemporary filmmakers.”  (M.H., DENVER POST 10/18/85)wp1c1e9c92.jpg

The swing is also a filming of the filmmakers own childhood. It describes the danger of being young in that interim between wars, facing an uncertain future. (Les Paul Robley, AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAHER, 3/85)

How well everyone performs, how superlatively Jürgen Martin’s camera prowls and glides and soars... memory pleasurably rescues dozens of fragments; … there is a fine, disorderly order of richness after all. (John Coleman, THE STATESMAN)

… At the heart of the action the youngest girl is always felt: restless, irreverent, wandering between the dancers at the ball, she is played with spirit by Anja Jaenicke. But this is a film notable for its ensemble-playing, the young people and their elders joining in the picture of a life orderly, long past. (Dilys Powell, PUNCH, 1/2/85

THE DENVER POST, October 18, 1985

Lovable, Joyous ‘Swing’ Glistens Among Gems of Denver Festival

By M. H.

This 1983 West German film by Percy Adlon is one of the real gems of the Denver festival.

The setting is Munich just before World War I. The Lautenschlag family is a rather disorderly crew, compared to their stiff bourgeois neighbors. Father, the royal horticulturist, is a kind, unworldly man who can never quite remember where his money goes. Mother is a French pianp teacher. Three delightful teenage girls and one lackadaisical boy complete the household.

The movie is seen through the eyes of 15-year-old Mathias, an enthusiastic truth-teller, art lover and tough cookie. A memory piece from the novel by Annette Kolb, it chronicles the mundane and funny crises the family muddles through with a great generosity of spirit. The film is difficult to synopsize because incidents in their lives are less important in particular than in creating a full-bodied portrait of these lovable people.

The film is bes, standiphotographed and has been justifiably compared to Ingmar Bergman’s FANNY AND ALEXANDER, although it lacks most of that masterpiece’s inherent darkness. That is not to say that THE SWING is a syrupy exercise in nostalgia. But at its core is a kind of vital joy that makes it such a heartening moviegoing experience.

With one film Adlon assures his place among the foremost contemporary filmmakers.

PUNCH, January 2, 1985

Munich Memories

By Dilys Powell

Family life, family fortunes; the children ranging from 25 to 15: encounters, visits, a dance, a day in the country. A German day: THE SWING (PG, Hampstead Everyman), based on a novel by Annette Kolb and directed and written for the screen by Percy Adlon, is set in the Munich of 1889; Bismarck is still around. The father is a landscape gardener in royal service. There is never enough money in the household. The family is looked down on by rich neighbors, though there are passages of amiable condescension. Behind their lives there is the architectural grandeur of the city.

Sometimes there is the feeling that the city, the garden and the landscapes are the true center of this elegant work. The statuary sometimes seems to dominate the action; the buildings, grave impassive facades, overpower. And there is the presence of royalty: a drive through respectful spectators. But then the family figures reassert themselves. The young people acquire bicycles; one of the daughters mimics the snobbish acquaintances; the father (Rolf Illig) berates his wife (Christine Kaufmann) for incompetence with money and bills, the three girls and their brother set off on a moonlight mountain-climb. At the heart of the action the youngest girl is always felt: restless, irreverent, wandering between the dancers at the ball, she is played with spirit by Anja Jaenicke. But this is a film notable for its ensemble-playing, the young people and their elders joining in the picture of a life orderly, long past.

Percy Adlon has worked for television; he was responsible for a film shown here a year or two ago, the remarkable CELESTE with its portrait of Proust. THE SWING is perhaps too long. But it is acute enough, delicate enough, in short enjoyable enough to make one forget that.wpe9547d06.jpg


The Swing

By Les Paul Robley

THE SWING has been described as a nonmusical Meet Me in St. Louis. The old world charm of turn-of-the century Munich -- a time when residents looked upon the pursuit of pleasure as a full-time profession attending ballroom dances, piano recitals, garden parties, bicycle rides and spectacular mountaineering hikes -- paints us a world perched precariously on the edge of a swing, ready to take the downward plunge into world war and accelerated progress. THE SWING is a kind of memory piece, reminiscent of a gentler, less frantic time. It unfolds like a page of history, as it tenderly celebrates the passing of a dying social order, examining it to the point where we see own future emerging from it.

THE SWING is based on author Annette Kolb’s autobiographical novel, written in 1934 shortly before she fled Hitler’s Germany. It lovingly details a family of non-conformists who live a life as financially precarious as the swing of the title. Herr Lautenschlag (the father) is landscape gardener for the Bavarian Royal Family. His own family occupies the small house opposite the great glass palace of the Botanical Gardens. His French wife is a frail, romantic figure who helps support the family by giving piano lessons to the snobbish royal offspring. The four children are as proud and indomitable as the two adults. The youngest daughter, Mathias, is the Kolb-surrogate who, with her gift of vision and impertinent habit of publicly speaking her mind, becomes the focus for much of the film’s impressionistic style…

As a child and teenager I was never really interested in cinema,

recalled Adlon pointedly.

It was the same as going to the museum or listening to an opera or a play. Then I discovered acting wasn’t enough. I started to edit a literature series for German radio and even narrated it. It was through this I discovered television and then film. In a way, it was always combined with my interests in literature – all the images I had in my mind while writing for radio. I finally had to get out of my box.  [...]

His latest effort, DIE SCHAUKEL (1983, THE SWING), finally emerged as a culmination of his glimpses into memory and personal recollections of the past.

Now I try to find a balance between my fiction films and documentaries,

added Adlon.

I constantly alternate from one to the other.

Financing a picture in Germany can be as rough as producing one here, especially when dealing with an expensive non-commercial period piece like THE SWING. […]

I also received the money because the Bavarian state sponsors wanted the film to strongly reflect Bavaria’s past, her image,

he pointed out.

This was in spite of the poor box-office potential the film had. […] I make film for my own age group, even though the widest film market is 10 to 24 years old. I can’t change nerves or heart, making something for 20-year-olds. I’m not a commercial filmmaker. I see a problem in world cinema that there is a lack of films aimed for my age group.

As to historical dramas like THE SWING, he would never do one again.

I hate them since they imprison you cinematically,

he insisted.

Your story becomes a prison. For the young German cinema to mature,

he predicted,

there are really two different decisions we have to make as filmmakers. One side must remain strict and unspoiled, doing only what’s in their mind, making a personal statement, being true to themselves despite the enticements of commercial distribution. The other side involves the ambitious mainstream projects like DAS BOOT and NEVER ENDING STORY. These films are also important, for when they are successful, art filmmakers benefit as well. But as far as my own sensibilities, they lie predominantly in the first camp.