Effi Briest

Following her parents’ wishes, spirited seventeen-year-old Effi Briest marries Baron von Innstetten – a former admirer of her mother – who is twenty years Effi’s senior. This marriage of prudence heralds the beginning of a humdrum life, far from home, for Effi. Innstetten devotes himself entirely to his political career, and the sleepy small town of Kessin has very little to offer in terms of variety. But then, one day, Innstetten’s old regimental comrade, Major Crampas – a charming womanizer – arrives on the scene. Effi begins a passionate affair with him and, for the first time, discovers the meaning of love. Years later, when Baron Innstetten hears of their now bygone affair, he challenges Major Crampas to a duel: “I love my wife. Yes, it may seem strange, but I still love her. – But if you hold true to such things and tell me that you love this wife so much that you can forgive everything, I must ask you: do we have to go through with this? – In spite of this, we must. We are not mere individuals. We belong to the whole. And it is our duty to defer to the whole.” Crampas dies in the duel. In a departure from Fontane’s version, Effi decides that the only thing to do is to begin a new life …
Published in 1895, Theodor Fontane’s marvellous tale of love and adultery was to mark his breakthrough as a novelist. In her screen adaptation, director Hermine Huntgeburth reinterprets this classic work for a modern audience. EFFI BRIEST refracts the charm of a period drama through a modern consciousness in order to depict a young woman’s bid for emancipation.
by Hermine Huntgeburth
with Julia Jentsch, Sebastian Koch, Misel Maticevic, Juliane Köhler, Thomas Thieme
Germany 2008 118’

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