Princess and the Warrior (SE)/ B+, B-
Columbia/2000/133/ANA 2.35

     There's a moment when you think this might be a re-run of Tykwer's earliest success, Run, Lola, Run when Bodo takes to the streets on a fateful run,. You can feel the beat. The rush is on. But the traffic flow veers off into other directions. Stylistically, Tykwer delivers another fascinating and satisfying visual story-telling tour-de-force.
     You have to acclimate to the script movement. It's like clouds forming in the sky to build a weather front. At first the can be a bit confusing, but go with it and the Tykwer puzzle pieces will become more apparent as the characters move to fateful rhythms. 

Hyper-memory. ©Columbia

     Tykwer is fascinated by the fates. His script is laden with that may seem like coincidental incidents, but they are governed by some sort of spiritual order and not simple accidents of moment. Fate is at the heart of The Princess and the Warrior: it brings Sissi and Bodo together.  Bodo meets Sissi at the most important moment. It brings Sissi to the wrong place at the right time. All Tykwer's elements interlock with the precision of a finely tuned instrument. 
     A powerfully romantic strain runs through The Princess and the Warrior. The characters have a history behind them. They are damaged goods, but even when they step across the line of right, you can't help staying on their side. There are a lot of very tough scenes to watch, but that's part of the transfixing power. The bridging from scene to scene is brilliant. All the cuts make sense and elevate the varied elements of the film. You never know what some of these characters have inside them. Sissi's determination is remarkable. Tykwer does not take you in expected directions. Just when you think something will pan out predictably, Tykwer turns it skillfully adhering to the internal logic of the script.  The truck sequence is a fantastically layered script element. 
     The cast all vie for screen attention. They are a fascinating mix.  From Franka Potente's laid-back, almost zombie-like performance as Sissi to Benno Fürmann's tortured off-center Bodo to Joachim Król's intense Walter, the leads sing Tykwer's song in perfect harmony. Supporting players are equally adept at making The Princess and the Warrior come to life. 
     Visually stirring images are delivered without interrupting the story-telling power. Tykwer's score captures the mysterious and almost fairy tale like feel. The foreboding builds effectively. The Princess and the Warrior is a first-rate production. Tykwer's direction is crisp, efficient, and his overall command of the medium is bracing.    
     A fine looking DVD, The Princess and the Warrior is a pleasure to watch. Saturation is consistently excellent. There's a somewhat blown-out high-contrast look to the DVD which I think stems from artistic intent. Details are mostly strong with good depth, however, there are a few soft scenes. This one looks like it been considerably edge-enhanced. Picture grain appears elevated above normal and some small details jitter unreasonably. Check out the nasty movement of those corrugated doors.  Removable yellow English subtitles are easy to read.  Very nice Dolby Digital 5:1 surround stage. The music has wonderful depth. It sounds like it is emanating form behind the image.
     A richly detailed special edition features two separate audio commentaries. Track one features a solo Tom Tykwer filling in the details of The Princess and the Warrior while track one again features Tykwer joined by stars Franka Potente and Benno Fürmann.     The German title translates to The Warrior and the Empress. Tykwer preferred the sound of The Princess and the Warrior for the English title, as he explains on the audio commentary (In English) with stars Franka Potente and Benno Fürmann. There's also an excellent 30 plus minute making of documentary in German with English subtitles. Five deleted scenes with a hefty introduction from Tykwer and editor Mathilde Bonnefoy complete the heart of the package. The introduction provides excellent insights into the editing process and the commentary over the scenes additional enlightenment.


Bright Lights Film Journal, issue 26
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