The Princess and the Warrior (2000) / Drama-Romance
MPAA Rated: R for disturbing images, language and some sexual content
Running Time: 135 min.
Cast: Franka Potente, Benno Furmann, Joachim Krol, Lars Rudolph, Melchior Beslon
Director: Tom Tykwer
Screenplay: Tom Tykwer
Review published March 10, 2002
The Princess and the Warrior (Der Krieger und die Kaiserin) is a troubling film for me to have to review because while there are some effective themes which underlie the story, the story itself is slow and not particularly that interesting. It's really hard for me to recommend a movie where the only points of interest seem to stem from the bits and pieces that are included to drive home a deeper meaning and not the vehicle in which that meaning is delivered. It's an artsy piece to be sure, and The Princess and the Warrior is probably not a movie I would recommend wholeheartedly to a friend, yet I can't say is a bad film because of the ambitious craftsmanship and bubbles of inspiration that emerge to keep the film from going flat.
Franka Potente, whom many people will recognize from Tykwer's earlier masterwork, Run Lola Run, plays a young nurse named Sissi, who works a tough job at an asylum in Germany. One day, while Sissi is out and about town, she gets in the way of a moving truck whose drive was distracted by a foot-chase involving Bodo (Furmann, Joyeux Noel), a troubled former military man who lost his loved one in a fatal accident himself. While lying under the truck about to die from a blocked throat, Bodo saves her life with a slick amateur tracheotomy. When she is able to function again, Sissi returns to work but seeks out Bodo because of a dream and a general feeling of fate, knowing in her heart they were destined to be together. Bodo is in no mood for love, as he is not only grieving for the one he lost, but also is planning an elaborate bank heist, and isn't in the frame of mind to be entertaining young girls with crushes.
Don't watch The Princess and the Warrior if you are expecting a continuation of the fast and fun pace of Run Lola Run, as it is a very slow piece, full of many lingering shots that contrast Tykwer's fast and frenetic cutting in his previous outing. However, that's not to say Tykwer gets lazy, as he does add excellent and very effective uses of stylish camerawork and interesting music to punctuate the thoughts and feelings of the characters quite well. Tykwer also supplies the well-written script, with good sense of feelings and dialogue, plus the use of deeper symbolism and themes to drive home a potential winner.
However, The Princess and the Warrior falls short of achieving greatness, despite the moments of brilliance. As a director, Tykwer is a master to be sure, yet as an editor, he could have used a bit better judgment when it came to overlong scenes, or ones which seem unimportant to the overall story. However, even if the overall plot were trimmed to efficiency, the storyline itself isn't quite absorbing enough to be truly compelling on it's own.
However, even if the film isn't interesting as a story, as the work of an artist, it's still an impressive endeavor. The little touches here and there, the motifs and recurring themes, and the terrific camerawork all point to a man who is far from asleep at the helm. Once Tykwer learns to harness all of his amazing talent, he will make great films someday. Somewhere between the insanely fun Run Lola Run and deep musings of The Princess and the Warrior, Tykwer's masterpiece seems crying out to emerge.
©2002 Vince Leo