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the princess and the warrior

review by rob gonsalves

Tom Tykwer

Stefan Arndt
Katja De Bock
Gebhard Henke
Maria Köpf

Frank Griebe

Reinhold Heil
Johnny Klimek
Tom Tykwer

Mathilde Bonnefoy


Franka Potente (Sissi)
Benno Fürmann
Joachim Król
Lars Rudolph
Melchior Beslon
Ludger Pistor
Christa Fast
(Sigrun Molke)
Sybille Jacqueline Schedwill

mpaa rating: R
running time: 129m
german release: October 12, 2000
u.s. release: June 22, 2001
video availability: VHS - DVD
official website 1

official website 2

q&a home

Franka Potente and Benno Fürmann meet under highly charged circumstances.

She's the princess, he's the warrior? Is this some kind of medieval thing?

Nope. The title should be taken metaphorically. Potente is Sissi, a nurse at a mental hospital; Fürmann is Bodo, a thief with violent tendencies. The story unfolds in the present day. Except for intermittent poetic imagery, there are no elements of the fantastic, much less the ancient.

The marketing makes much of the fact that this is from the director and star of Run Lola Run. Is it anything like that film?

Absolutely not; the two films are as different as different can be. They're both equally cool in their own ways, but TP&TW is roughly 40 minutes longer and much more leisurely, which speaks well of director Tom Tykwer's range. For those only familiar with the breakneck pace of Lola, this will be a surprise; for those who enjoyed Lola for that reason, it may be a letdown. This movie's much closer to the work of other German directors like Wim Wenders and Werner Herzog.

So: long but not boring?

Unless you're watching it late at night and happen to be sleepy anyway, you won't feel the extra length. Something happens about half an hour into the story that effectively calls all bets off; from there, it's pretty well impossible to guess where Tykwer is going.

Where is he going?

Won't tell. Suffice to say that Sissi comes to believe that she must see more of Bodo, and Bodo does not agree. Neither does his older brother (Joachim Król), who looks after him in the wake of a past trauma. Tykwer has created a tough-minded, unsentimental version of the usual Hollywood formula wherein two lovers we want to see together are kept apart for most of the movie. Here, it doesn't feel contrived; it comes out of the demons and obsessions of the characters.

Can you picture this being remade by Hollywood?

Yeah, they'd probably get Nora Ephron to direct Meg Ryan in the Sissi role and Tom Hanks, in Road to Perdition mode, in the Bodo role. It would suck.

You mentioned poetic imagery -- does it ever get artsy-fartsy?

Not at all. Tykwer here shows a talent for becalmed rapture that the pace of Lola didn't allow him. I think of a scene wherein Sissi and Bodo are underwater, or a bit right at the beginning where Sissi rubs an ice cube over her skin and encourages a blind patient to touch it, to feel what goosebumps feel like. Much of the movie is highly eroticized in this way without being quite sexual; the closest it comes is a quick, dispassionate hand-job scene.

The DVD cover makes it look lame.

It does. So much so that I was moved to create a page comparing the American DVD artwork with the original German poster art (which, predictably, was far superior).

So if we liked Lola, we might like this one?

You might, if you have sufficient patience for Tykwer's (literal) change of pace. I was enthralled throughout. Tykwer can go fast or slow and keep us riveted either way. That's no mean feat, and the only real connective tissue between the two films (aside from Potente, who's even better here -- less an action figure and more a vulnerable woman -- than in Lola) is Tykwer's assured mastery of his art. He will be a persuasive reason to keep going to the movies for years to come.

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