The Inheritors (die Siebtelbauern)

on October 09, 1998 by Ed Scheid
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   Writer/director Stefan Ruzowitzky said that he wanted his film "The Inheritors" to be a modern approach to the Austrian "Heimatfilm" (German for "homeland film"). Like the Western, this genre takes place in rural areas and deals with myths and archetypes. But in Ruzowitzky's extremely well-written script, the characters are not archetypes; the excellent actors create distinctive characterizations. Seven peasants struggle through daily chores for a stern farmer who is found dead. In his will, he denounces his neighbors and leaves his farm to the peasants, saying he hopes they'll kill each over the spoils. Instead of selling out to a rich farmer, most of the peasants decide to keep the farm for themselves so they can stop being ordered around by others.
   Easygoing Lukas (Simon Schwarz) has worked on the farm since he was found as a small boy. He tries to assume authority. Emmy (Sophie Rois), another of the peasant owners, has an illegitimate child and is determined not to be dictated to by another male authority. She believes that since the seven peasants each have an equal share, the farm should be run democratically. Eventually the peasant owners become friends and proudly join together to work the farm. But their growing success threatens the social fabric of the area. The local farmers try whatever means necessary to get the former peasants off the farm.
   The increasingly violent farmer/peasant conflict is reminiscent of an American western. In his unique film, Ruzokowsky skillfully combines different genres: What begins as a sly social satire turns serious and becomes suspenseful and gripping as the former peasants struggle for survival.    Starring Simon Schwarz, Sophie Rois and Lars Rudolph. Directed and written by Stefan Ruzowitzky. Produced by Danny Krausz and Kurt Stocker. A Stratosphere release. Drama. German-language; subtitled. Rated R for violence including a rape, sexuality and brief language. Running time: 95 min.
Tags: Simon Schwarz, Sophie Rois, Lars Rudolph, Stefan Ruzowitzky, Danny Krausz and Kurt Stocker. A Stratosphere release. Drama
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