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Friday, November 20, 2015

Filme Friday: Das Millionenspiel (1970)

This weekend is the premier of the last Hunger Games movie. Unfortunately, once all us fans see it, there's nothing else to look forward to!...right?  There are two popular themes that the audience seems to love: dystopian future and twisted fight-to-the-death reality show.  I'm one of the many who love it.  It's not really a new idea, even if it's been done in a lot of different ways.  For example, it you like "The Hunger Games", you might enjoy the 1970 Austrian movie, "Das Millionenspiel."


The film follows the finale episode of a tv show called "Das Millionenspiel" where the contestant must avoid being killed by the Köhler gang for a month.  Bernhard Lotz is the 15th contestant and he only needs to survive one more day to win the 1,000,000 DeutscheMark prize.  The movie follows his last day as some try to help him win and others try to bring him to the killers.  Just like other films in this genre, human nature is examined and whether murder is still immoral when it's legal.

The style of the movie reminds me a lot of "Series 7: The Contenders", which I highly recommend (I watch it every couple of years and like it more each time).  It's meant to make the viewer feel like they're watching the actual fictional reality show.  The movie viewer sees what the tv show viewer would see.  "Das Millionenspiel" even includes filler segments of interviews and performances by singers and a colorful dance group.  Think of how shows like "Dancing with the Stars" and "America's Got Talent" have special star acts between the meat of the show.  "Das Millionenspiel" also includes fake commercials that fit with the kind of society that would condone such entertainment.  They're a good way of adding commentary without going outside the overall style.


Maybe it says something about my age, but I feel like I have a short attention span for a lot of movies made before the 1980s.  I'm not sure why, but I get easily distracted when the movie feels "old" (I'm sure the generations younger than I am feel that way about movies I grew up with).  I don't know what it is honestly.  This movie managed to hold my attention for the most part, partially because I was watching to review it.  It also moved quickly enough that I didn't get bored with any one scene.  

It seems like the film was intended to be more of an alternate reality than futuristic.  This reminded me again of "Series 7: The Contenders" and also of "Battle Royale".  Side note: If you like "The Hunger Games", but you've never seen "Battle Royale", stop reading right now and go watch it.  Or read it. (Well, finish reading this first).  The book and movie are both Japanese, but the English subtitled version is one of my favorite movies.  I will admit that I have yet to get through the entire sequel though...some movies are better standing alone.  All three could be visions of the future just as easily as they could be alternate realities.  Yes, "Battle Royale" is set in the future, but, these films aren't as futuristic sci-fi as others like "The Hunger Games" and "Running Man".  I like them all, but prefer something somewhat easier to relate to.  Maybe it's similar to how I tend to prefer horror movies where the monster could be real.

Bad news:  No more Hunger Games Movies.
Good news: I just gave three great recommendations in three different languages to fill that void.