Friday 24 December 2010

...and Once Upon A Time in Schönroda.

All the time while I was reading Buddenbrooks, I was reminded of something that I couldn't quite put my finger on.  Was it another book, a film, a picture?  I struggled to remember what it was - and then it dawned on me...  I was thinking of a German telenovella.

Back in January, I posted about my guilty pleasure, Alisa - Folge deinem Herzen, and (bizarrely enough) there are several strong similarities between the show and Thomas Mann's epic novel.  The central theme of a well-established family business in the north of Germany, with the Castellhofs' Optical Works replacing the Buddenbrooks trading company, is the obvious one, the inseparable links between family and business life causing conflict in both areas.  Even the picture of the Buddenbrooks' family home on the cover of my edition reminds me of the Castellhofs' luxurious mansion on the banks of the Schönrodaer See.  Of course, we mustn't stretch the parallels too far (there were certainly fewer suspicious fatalities in the novel than in the television show!), but it's good to see echoes of high literature in daytime television :)

So far, I've watched 208 of the 240 episodes (40 minutes running time each - that equals one North American television hour!), and more has happened to the inhabitants of this small German town in this period than will happen to me - and anyone reading this - in a whole lifetime.  There are far too many crises and catastrophes to go through, but a special mention must go to Oskar Castellhof (played by Andreas Hofer), uncle of the main male lead, complete psychopath and a role that any actor with dreams of overacting would kill for (perhaps he did - the character certainly would).

Old Oskar had an affair with his nephew's wife, started a secret weapons deal on the side, drowned his brother when he found out about the deal, slept with various business partners, pushed the butler(!) down the stairs when he threatened to reveal his secrets, drugged his sister-in-law and had her kidnapped from the sanatorium she was supposed to be visiting... all this while running a multi-million-Euro enterprise: he is certainly one hard-working man!  Of course, he did find out that he had an eighteen-year-old daughter he knew nothing about and was recently told that the child his wife is pregnant with may not be his, so I suppose we can forgive him his murderous tendencies.

Although things are looking shaky for the main couple at the moment, what with the appearance of Alisa's ex, Oliver, a suave rogue who has been able to sow the seeds of discord between them, I have no doubt that Christian and Alisa will get their act together in the next 32 episodes (I still foresee a wedding in their future).  And Oskar?  Oh, he'll get away with it, as always.  He's far too good a character to get rid of...