Those of you who know us know we have a thing for anti-heroes and outcasts, road stories and dive bars – and if there’s music to be found along the way so much the better.
Today’s edition of ScreenShots focuses on one such effort – and it’s in German to boot, jawohl. In Schultze Gets The Blues we are introduced to the lumbering, recently forcibly retired Schultze (Horst Krause), a miner from Teutschenthal with too much time on his hands and too many garden gnomes to dust.
With his simultaneously laid-off kameraden Jürgen and Manfred, he spends as much time as possible napping on his sofa, visiting his mother in a nursing home, and playing his accordion at a stolidly German polka club. A foray into competitive speed chess determines that the level of local play is not too high, with feuding players and overturned chess boards.
Schultze pedals around town on his bicycle, dealing with the petty idiosyncrasies of his fellow town folk until, one night, the radio beams an upbeat zydeco tune into his head he cannot seem to shake.
Like “Close Encounter’s” Roy Neary, Schultze’s world changes forever. His attempts to introduce Bayou music to the members of his polka club do not go well, though Jürgen and Manfred seem to appreciate his attempt at making jambalaya. Eventually, more to get him out from underfoot than to pay tribute to his musical skills, the city fathers pitch in to send him to a German music festival in the town’s sister city in Texas.
From there, Schultze embarks on a trip to find the roots of Zydeco, doffing his hat and stumbling across the South with his few words of English and a swamp boat he buys to make his way deeper into the waterways of Louisiana.
There’s no Hollywood-style payoff, no great American love interest to affirm his humanity – Schultze is human enough, wandering a strange land in search of its musical soul. If you like that kind of trip, pack your bag and come along for the ride.
Why We Liked It: It’s a patient movie. Willing to spend time waiting for Schultze to lumber into – or out of – a shot, willing to give him time to work his charm. It doesn’t cave in to stereotypes. And there’s music.
Quotable Quote: “The Yanks are friendly. You have to give them that.”
Available on Amazon Prime.