Marcus H. Rosenmueller • Director
by Ruediger Sturm - German Films Quarterly
Marcus H. Rosenmueller’s career started ‘at the top’. Five years ago, the student at the Munich Academy of Television & Film led a group of foreign students to the ridge of the Wendelstein Mountain. From a height of 2000 meters, the filmmakers-to-be viewed the broadcasting station of the Bayerischen Rundfunk – which gave Rosenmueller and a friend an idea: what if a new band seized the station and broadcast its music from there?
That was the initial spark of a creative process that has brought German cinema the greatest unexpected success in the recent past and, at the same time, revived a genre that was believed to be dead. The comedy Grave Decisions [+see also:
film profile] has been seen so far by more than 1.7 million cinemagoers in Germany and has won four German Film Awards, including those for Best Direction and Best Screenplay. The film has been playing for over a year in German cinemas, and Rosenmueller has already followed up with further works – the comedy Heavyweights and the portrait of a generation, Best Times, the continuation of which, called Beste Gegend (literally: "Best Region") has already been filmed. Since these films also celebrate life in rural Bavaria and only make use of dialect dialogues, the media tagged the 34-year-old as the highest exponent of the “New German Heimatfilm”. Rosenmueller has since gotten used to it, even if he did not consciously realize what his own main themes were. It is only now, confronted by countless reviews and interviews, that he realizes: “I incorporate a lot of things that I see as being parts of my homeland.”
However, as deeply as Rosenmueller’s stories are rooted in Bavaria, as a filmmaker, he strips away the constraints of regionalism. One indication of this is the showing of Grave Decisions at so many international festivals. In January, Rosenmueller was astounded to see his name on the marquee of New York’s Tribeca cinema, where it was presented to American buyers and journalists: “I was really surprised how well the film worked with the audiences. They laughed at the right times and were very quiet during the touching parts.” So far, the TV rights to Grave Decisions have been sold to China and Australia, among others, while other large territories still being negotiated.
The universality of Rosenmueller’s film narratives is not an accident. As influences, besides Roman Polanski and Helmut Kaeutner, who became one of the most important German directors of the 50s and 60s with intelligent melodramas like Under the Bridges, he names François Truffaut: “I just watched his Antoine Doinel-tetralogy again and I am still stunned at how modern this story and the style of its production is.” In turn, while filming Best Times, he showed his actors excerpts from Kenneth Lonergans’ subtle character study You Can Count on Me: “I wanted to make it clear to them that a good film doesn’t have to have an earth-shattering story, but an earth-shattering feeling.”
Rosenmueller has also trained his sense of comedy very well. In his youth, he couldn’t get his fill of comedies, whether by the Marx Brothers, Lubitsch, or German humorists like Heinz Erhardt. He knew the dialogues of the Steve Martin's The Jerk practically by heart. For years, he wrote comedic addresses – so-called ‘carnival speeches’ – for the local carnival association. He especially likes the “anarchistic element” of it – “I’d like to do something wild.” That comment appears again and again whenever he describes his films.
At the same time, he is more than ready to leave the borders of Bavaria and of the “New German Heimatfilm” behind. Projects in standard German are “completely imaginable” for him; he also has a weakness for horror films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers or Rosemary’s Baby. However – the idea of taking the leap to Hollywood, such as other directors of his generation are currently doing, does not interest him. “First I have projects here in the near future. And for me, everything has to coordinate creatively. I don’t want to let myself be talked into anything by a studio or a producer. I’m the wrong guy for that.” You could also say: Rosenmueller is simply too wild.
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