DIE FARBE

3.5 Stars
Year Released: 2011
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 85 minutes
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Filmmaker Huan Vu’s Die Farbe is a stark, moody thriller that draws you in and keeps your interest as it serves up brilliant under-the-surface horror. An adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space,” the film had its work cut out for it (Lovecraft’s writing is so enticing for cinematic adaptation but such ambition is not always realized). I’m happy to say the film does justice by Lovecraft, even as it re-purposes his story.

The film is framed by the tale of Jonathan Davis (Ingo Heise) as he travels from Massachusetts to a small village in Germany in search of his missing father (Patrick Pierce). With only a couple photos to help him, Jonathan begins asking locals for their help, eventually meeting Armin Pierske (Michael Kausch). Armin doesn’t recognize Jonathan’s father by his current photo, but recognizes an older photo of Dr. Davis as a soldier he met during World War II. Dr. Davis made Armin take he and his soldiers down to the old Gärtener family farm, much to Armin’s horror.

As the film goes on, Armin recounts the days prior to his fateful meeting with Jonathan’s father, and the events surrounding the meteorite that fell at the Gärtener family farm. And much to the film’s credit, it is easy to get just as captivated as Jonathan does. Without spoiling too much, let’s just say that life for the Gärtener family got very strange, involving over-sized crops that are rotten to the taste, hallucinations of an overwhelming light and, eventually, tragedy as only people in the center of a Lovecraft story can endure.

Die Farbe plays up the ancient feel of the story by playing out predominantly in black and white. This also goes a long way towards helping to blend in the various mattes and other digital effects the film employs (in many cases seamlessly). There’s just something about properly exposing and composing for black and white that can really elevate a dark tale, and Die Farbe gets it right. That said, there are moments of color, and they stand out as alien from the rest of the film in just the right way.

I can’t say that I completely agreed with how the short ended, but I do understand and respect the artistic choice. Lovecraft often dealt with the unknowable and the indescribable, so an adaptation, particularly of this story, that works with an ambiguous note is not all that surprising. Again, Lovecraft is extremely tempting to adapt, but that is not always a good thing. I’m happy to say that Die Farbe is one of the good ones, though.

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Posted on December 8, 2011 in Reviews by
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