1/2/10

Requiem


Based on the same events as 2005's The Exorcism of Emily Rose, 2006's Requiem is a moody, atmospheric meditation on a young woman's decent into, possibly, diabolical madness.

First, a quick bit of history:  back in the late 60's a young Bavarian woman named, Anneliese Michel began suffering  violent epileptic seizures.  A few year's later, the seizures worsening, Michel started claiming that she was hearing voices as well.  Frustrated by the lack of relief  at the hands of medical professionals, Michel's family turned to the local Catholic church who determined that the young woman was possessed by demons and evil spirits.  Allegedly, 67 exorcisms were held over a ten month period, and sadly, Michel died due to malnutrition.  Shortly thereafter, her family and the priest involved were taken to court and found guilty of the young girl's death due to negligence.

Unlike ...Emily Rose, Requiem takes a much more realistic view of Michel (here known as Michaela Klingler - and played brilliantly by Sandra Hüller) and her circumstances.  From the get go, we are aware that Michaela is the product of a stifling, overly religious up bringing.  Her mother (Imogen Kogge) is especially a thorn in the teen girl's side.   When Michaela is accepted to a local university, it is only through the intersession of her somewhat more liberal minded father (Burghart Klaußner) that she gets to break away.


At first, college life seems to agree with her.  For a brief moment, the mousy little girl blossoms in the glory of early 70's dorm life, drinking, making friends, and even finding a boy friend.  And then, one night, she has another seizure - but this time, she begins hearing voices (keep in mind, the viewer sees or hears nothing except for Michaela's reactions).  Soon, the episodes start happening more and more, and Michaela becomes obsessed with the life of Saint Catherine of Siena as well as the idea of martyrdom.  Finally, she stops taking her medication and falls deeper and deeper into a deluded existence.

Interestingly, when Michaela asks a local priest for help, he tries to dissuade her from any kind of divine intervention and urges her to see a doctor and a therapist claiming that the devil and demons are not real, they are just creations used by the church to give evil an identity.  When a younger priest hears about her situation, he manages to get the church's approval to preform the exorcism.


Back at her family's home, Michaela has one of her more violent outbursts, smashing pottery in the kitchen and screaming horribly when some one tries to pray in her presence.  At some period, a friend (Anna Blomeier) of hers from college comes to visit and manages to take her out of the house for awhile and says to her, that her problem is not some demon, the problem is her personality and she can not change that.  Nonetheless, Michaela insists that she is possessed and returns home.

What makes Requiem such a compelling film is that it plainly shows a young woman who would have benefited from some intense psychiatric counseling and medical care as opposed to having her delusions fed.  And while it is up to viewer to draw his or her own conclusions as to what is actually wrong with Michaela, one may have a very hard time dealing with the fact that common sense did not win out in the end.
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For more information on the true story that inspired Requiem CLICK HERE.

Anneliese Michel 1952-1976

8 comments:

iasa said...

I'm glad you reviewed this. Ever since I typed German into my computer a few weeks ago, Netflix has decided I really need to see this film, recommending it at every opportunity. I think I might give it a shot.

BJ-C said...

Bah I must see this!

Andre said...

Yes I have this saved on my instant queue so I'm excited you reviewed it. Damn those kooky religious freaks.

Ninja Dixon said...

Thank you for the review, I have to see this one - sounds much better than the other version.

Carl (ILHM) said...

Im in on this too, I have been meaning to see it after reading comparisons online between the two films, but I love the approach this one takes in minimizing the sensationalism and focusing on the external factors.

Planet of Terror said...

Excellent review Pax! I've never heard of this. Must see now, ASAP.

Pax Romano said...

Thanks all, I can't recommend this movie enough; that said, keep in mind that is NOT a horror film, approach it more as a tragic fable and you will probably enjoy it.

James said...

Thanks for reviewing this one - I've been meaning to check it out for a while and you've just given me even more incentive. Have a great weekend!