Steppenwolf


1h 46m 1974

Brief Synopsis

Harry Haller is a misanthropic writer whose self-absorption and feelings of being a social outsider have led him to plan his suicide at age 50. While contemplating this act, he meets a mysterious woman who takes him into a realm of metaphysical transcendence.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
1974

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 46m
Sound
Stereo
Color
Color

Synopsis

Harry Haller is a misanthropic writer whose self-absorption and feelings of being a social outsider have led him to plan his suicide at age 50. While contemplating this act, he meets a mysterious woman who takes him into a realm of metaphysical transcendence.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
1974

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 46m
Sound
Stereo
Color
Color

Articles

Steppenwolf - Max Von Sydow in Hermann Hesse's STEPPENWOLF on DVD


Way, way back in the Woodstock era, the works of the German novelist Herman Hesse and their search-for-self themes enjoyed a vogue with young intellectuals yearning for some deeper understanding of the world. It was during this time that writer/director Fred Haines took on the daunting task of taking Hesse's popular 1927 novel of an aging writer's struggles with the dual aspects of his nature and translating it for the screen. The end product, Steppenwolf (1974), employed period psychedelia, Gilliamesque cut-out animation and such-as-they-were special effects to try and open a door into a tortured soul. The numbingly literal results, finally introduced to the DVD market by HomeVision Entertainment and Image Entertainment, remain intriguing if not entirely successful.

When you consider that his only other screenwriting credit of note is director Joseph Strick's adaptation of Joyce's Ulysses (1967), Haines seemed a glutton for punishment when it came to trying to film the unfilmable. He did have the good fortune of casting Max Von Sydow in the central role of the Hesse surrogate Harry Haller. As the bourgeois intellectual so weary of trying to reconcile his genteel exterior with the "wolf of the Steppes" that he harbors within that he contemplates marking his fiftieth birthday with suicide, Von Sydow deftly and delicately projected the character's crushing angst.

However, Haines had Von Sydow do so through half an hour of hallucinatory meanderings, until Haller makes the acquaintance of the young prostitute Hermine (Dominique Sanda), whose attentions finally draw him outward. Once in her orbit, the reserved old bourgeois gets a taste of life's more decadent pleasures, courtesy of the jazz musician-drug dealer Pablo (Pierre Clemente) and Hermine's sensual colleague Maria (Carla Romanelli). It's through their attentions that Harry finds his long-sought egress into the hallucinatory "Magic Theatre" where he might finally achieve self-realization.

Those contemporary viewers willing and/or patient enough to sift through the panorama of eye candy that Haines utilized to put his story across will get the most out of Steppenwolf; others may want to take a pass. Sanda, an arthouse favorite of the era (The Garden of the Finzi-Continis [1971], The Conformist [1971]) was at the height of her beauty here, if patently uncomfortable performing in English. The bulk of the supporting parts, insofar as they were played out in Haller's fevered imagination, were appropriately cast with grotesques straight out of Breughel, notably Alfred Baillou as a dwarfish Goethe. The picturesque location footage taken in Basel, Switzerland provided an appropriately Gothic feel for Haller's bleak reality.

HomeVision's presentation of Steppenwolf is bare-bones, with an adequately clean image presented in a fullscreen 1.33:1 aspect ratio and Dolby Digital Mono sound. English subtitles for the hard of hearing and the theatrical trailer comprise the breadth of the extras.

For more information about Steppenwolf, visit Image Home Entertainment. To order Steppenwolf, go to TCM Shopping.

by Jay S. Steinberg
Steppenwolf - Max Von Sydow In Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf On Dvd

Steppenwolf - Max Von Sydow in Hermann Hesse's STEPPENWOLF on DVD

Way, way back in the Woodstock era, the works of the German novelist Herman Hesse and their search-for-self themes enjoyed a vogue with young intellectuals yearning for some deeper understanding of the world. It was during this time that writer/director Fred Haines took on the daunting task of taking Hesse's popular 1927 novel of an aging writer's struggles with the dual aspects of his nature and translating it for the screen. The end product, Steppenwolf (1974), employed period psychedelia, Gilliamesque cut-out animation and such-as-they-were special effects to try and open a door into a tortured soul. The numbingly literal results, finally introduced to the DVD market by HomeVision Entertainment and Image Entertainment, remain intriguing if not entirely successful. When you consider that his only other screenwriting credit of note is director Joseph Strick's adaptation of Joyce's Ulysses (1967), Haines seemed a glutton for punishment when it came to trying to film the unfilmable. He did have the good fortune of casting Max Von Sydow in the central role of the Hesse surrogate Harry Haller. As the bourgeois intellectual so weary of trying to reconcile his genteel exterior with the "wolf of the Steppes" that he harbors within that he contemplates marking his fiftieth birthday with suicide, Von Sydow deftly and delicately projected the character's crushing angst. However, Haines had Von Sydow do so through half an hour of hallucinatory meanderings, until Haller makes the acquaintance of the young prostitute Hermine (Dominique Sanda), whose attentions finally draw him outward. Once in her orbit, the reserved old bourgeois gets a taste of life's more decadent pleasures, courtesy of the jazz musician-drug dealer Pablo (Pierre Clemente) and Hermine's sensual colleague Maria (Carla Romanelli). It's through their attentions that Harry finds his long-sought egress into the hallucinatory "Magic Theatre" where he might finally achieve self-realization. Those contemporary viewers willing and/or patient enough to sift through the panorama of eye candy that Haines utilized to put his story across will get the most out of Steppenwolf; others may want to take a pass. Sanda, an arthouse favorite of the era (The Garden of the Finzi-Continis [1971], The Conformist [1971]) was at the height of her beauty here, if patently uncomfortable performing in English. The bulk of the supporting parts, insofar as they were played out in Haller's fevered imagination, were appropriately cast with grotesques straight out of Breughel, notably Alfred Baillou as a dwarfish Goethe. The picturesque location footage taken in Basel, Switzerland provided an appropriately Gothic feel for Haller's bleak reality. HomeVision's presentation of Steppenwolf is bare-bones, with an adequately clean image presented in a fullscreen 1.33:1 aspect ratio and Dolby Digital Mono sound. English subtitles for the hard of hearing and the theatrical trailer comprise the breadth of the extras. For more information about Steppenwolf, visit Image Home Entertainment. To order Steppenwolf, go to TCM Shopping. by Jay S. Steinberg

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Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1974

Released in United States 1974