Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 15, 2000. Original German title: WerAngstWolf. (German, English, Italian and Swiss German dialogue.) Running time: 85 MIN.
With: Bruno Ganz, Tina Engel, Mathias Gnadinger, Charlotte Heinimann, Stefan Kurt, Norbert Klassen, Doraine Green, Arne Nannestad, George Meyer-Goll, Max Rudlinger, Caroline Redl.
You don’t always need the entire temple, sometimes a column will do.” This is how Swiss-born, Italy-based helmer Clemens Klopfenstein explains the interesting yet exasperating exercise in which gaggles of thesps perform fragments of theatrical texts while wandering the Italian countryside. Of interest primarily to landscape buffs and those who like to watch actors hone their craft, “WhoAfraidWolf” is a demanding pic that eschews entertainment in favor of intellectual noodling and will thus be fortunate to find sympathetic fest auds.
Plot is loosely built around pairs, trios and quartets of actors traveling by car, van and bus to the Goethe Institute in Rome, apparently to perform. Beginning on a sunny Italian beach and moving through a forest and into a spectacular mountain snowstorm, multilingual, mostly alfresco actors spew chunks of Chekhov, Shaw, Gorky, Albee (“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” accounting for pic’s title), Aeschylus, Shakespeare and Dostoyevsky. Most prominent thesp involved is grizzled, prolific vet Bruno Ganz, no better or worse than remainder of histrionic ensemble. Pic was inspired by a casting video, shot on 35mm over four years and culled from 50 hours of film. That’s a lotta columns.