Der Krieger und die Kaiserin

(English title: Princess and the Warrior)

(2000) – Tom Tykwer – Franka Potente, Benno Fürmann, usw.

Synopsis: Franka is Sissi. Sissi works in a psychiatric clinic. She has her problems. Benno is Bodo, who doesn’t work. He… does things to get by. (Okay, so he robs gas stations, but there’s a reason behind it; it’s more than the typical I-wanna-rob-gas-stations-to-make-a-quick-buck mentality [or, given the context of the movie, a quick DM].) He also tries out other things, but nothing really seems to work for him. It’s difficult to explain anything that happens without giving away potentially surprising plot twists, so suffice it to say that, through inconceivable coincidences, Sisi and Bodo are brought together in wholly absurd—and completely captivating—ways. The movie’s billed as a modern-day fairy tale. You can kinda see how it is, in a warped and frenzied kind of way.

Review: Critics didn’t seem to like this movie as much as its predecessor, ‘Lola Rennt’ aka ‘Run Lola Run.’ I’m not sure why, because while LR/RLR is definitely a good movie, it’s obvious that writer/director/composer Tom Tykwer has learned a few things in the interim. ‘The Princess + the Warrior’ gives off the impression of being LR/RLR’s bigger brother (or sister), more experienced and maybe a little bit arrogant but cut from the same cloth nonetheless. However you look at it, this is basically a well-done movie. I enjoyed it immensely. The first consideration you need to make when deciding if this movie is for you or not has to do with coincidences; namely, how do you respond to unlikely coincidences? Because this movie is filled with them. Big and small, wickedly funny and bitingly morose, etc. Ridiculous, absurd coincidences. This movie works because of coincidences. The reason I think these coincidences work (and don’t seem like unnecessary contrivances) is, the movie isn’t trying to emulate real life, it’s trying to tell a story. And it’s a good story. An interesting story. It’s life-affirming, in a depressing kind of way. It’s a love story, but a love story wrapped around madness (psychiatric clinic), loss (various partners’ & relatives’ deaths), and crime (robberies). ‘Brilliant’ is probably too strong a word, but it’s a very good movie.

Rating: [••••½] out of [•••••]

Etc.: Coincidence in Franka Potente’s real life story. From The Washington Diplomat, June 2001:

“Six years ago, I was studying acting in Munich,” Potente said in an interview. “I went to a bar. There was a casting agent who stared at me for a while and then followed me to the bathroom. While washing our hands, she asked me, ‘How would you describe yourself?’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ Then all of a sudden, there’s a violin [figuratively playing]. She said, ‘I would like to audition you.’ I went there. I never heard from her again for months because that project fell apart. But then, by coincidence, a friend of hers, a young director [Hans Christian Schmid], tripped over my tape. Well, I ended up in his movie. That led to Tom seeing the movie and keeping me in mind for ‘Lola’ which happened two years later. It’s a nice chain reaction because it leads up to the present day.”

“We always say if it had rained, she wouldn’t have come to the bar,” [Tykwer] said.