An excerpt from the booklet essay by James Oliver
Sigl was something of a young tyro when he got to make the film, only 25 and fresh out of film school in Munich. The script attracted attention and, soon enough, a budget, even if a modest one: it was shot in Hungary for reasons of cost – the landscape and buildings needed less transformation to evoke the early years of the twentieth century. Although German in conception and funding, the film was actually shot in English with the final soundtracks (in both German and English) post-synched later.1
In addition to the physical advantages Hungary offered, it also allowed Sigl to make use of a world-class cameraman: Nyika Jancsó – son of director Miklós Jancsó – deserves much credit for the ambiance, balancing the natural world against something more garish and jarring. If nothing else, it is a remarkably beautiful film, unusually alert to texture and artfully obfuscating the line between the real and imaginary.
It needs to be stressed that Laurin was some way from being typical of German cinema of that time. The glory days of the Neue Deutsche Kino – Fassbinder, Wenders, Herzog and their pals – were done by 1989, when the film was released. This was a time of ‘pseudo-social dramas [and] dull German comedies,’ says Sigl, with little support for darker and more brooding fare.
To outsiders this might sound odd, given that the country's filmmaking tradition is founded on the frequently 'dark' and 'brooding' films of the Weimar era – a period (roughly) bookended by The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Robert Wiene, 1919) to The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse, Fritz Lang, 1933). But a later regime left the country, and its film funding bodies, somewhat squeamish about that sort of thing. 'Horror' has different connotations in post Nazi-Germany...
James Oliver's complete essay, from which this excerpt is taken, appears in the booklet which accompanies the release.
Germany, Hungary / 1988
Laurin: 84 minutes
Special features: 139 mins
Sound: English 1.0 Mono / German 2.0 Dual-Mono
Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Language: English, German
Blu-ray: BD50 /
1080 / 24fps
Region ABC (Region Free)
Release Date: 3 April 2023