Martina Gedeck and Hubert AchleitnerShe is beautiful and can call a farm in Upper Bavaria her own, and nevertheless no farmer wants to marry her. Hölleisengretl suffers under the stigma of a hunchback. When she finally gives her attention to an Austrian late returnee from Russia, she does not suspect that he is alcoholic and violent.

A female farmer in her early thirties manages a large farm alone in the Bavarian foothills of the Alps, not far from a village. That this farmer, Hölleisengretl, is still alone, is due to an affliction: she has a hunchback. A hump which has branded her since childhood; even her own family, her father most of all, scorn her because of it, hate her for it. When her brother died in the Second World War and her parents died from grief, Gretl took over the farm estate. But in the village she is still ostracised, the Sunday visit to church is running the gauntlet. But Gretl, a strong woman does not want to just come to terms with her destiny. She also has a right to love. She satisfies her hunger for erotic and human care, as she fetches Wiggerl to her bedroom at night. Between the poor small-farmer and the farmer-woman develops a brittle sexual relationship. But a marriage to the day labourer not befitting her social status would be unthinkable for Gretl.

Gretl falls in love with the good-looking Tyrolean Matthias, who as second-born, had to let his older brother have the home farm. The two soon marry: for the hunchbacked Gretl, the happiest day of her life. However, the chosen one, the late returnee does not turn out to be the hoped for Prince Charming. He does not seem interested in her, but merely in her estate and prefers to spend his time in the pub. At home he vents his moods on the helpless farmer, becoming violent. Gretl is physically and emotionally at the end of her tether, it cannot go on. One evening Matthias does not return from the pub ...

Hölleisengretl is based on the story by Oskar Maria Graf (1894 - 1967), Die Geschichte von der buckligen Hölleisengretl (from the volume Kalendergeschichten, 1929) whose content largely returns to authentic events. "A homeland film in powerful pictures shaped by true details. From the meagre exactness of the Bavarian dialect arise characters in whose chasms we can establish ourselves," found the jury of the Deutsch Akademie der Darstellenden Künste, who awarded Jo Baier with the special award for director for Hölleisengretl at the Badener-Badener Days of Teleplay 1995. Apart from that, the film received a Telestar nomination.

A drama full of precision

rtv Nürnberg, 15/95

From screenplay to film music - director Jo Baier is only happy when everything is perfect.

"Sometimes we hugged once a scene was filmed", says musician Hubert von Goisern, 43, about his first film experience. "We had to show ourselves that the hate was only acted." The piece it concerns is called Hölleisengretl and is being broadcast on Easter Sunday on ZDF.

It is a relationship tragedy from the postwar era between a hunchbacked female farmer and a returnee from the war in the alpine country after a story by Oskar Maria Graf (1894 - 1967).

Hubert Achleitner, as the alpine rocker Goisern and boss of the Alpinkatzen is called as an actor, plays the brutal husband of a strong woman with a hump. Hubert Achleitner: "With director Jo Baier, it worked like a precision clockwork mechanism - his screenplay is so carefully written." Baier has provided this screenplay, written by hand from the first to last page, with many sketches, in which he has listed exactly where and how camera and actor must move themselves. That was an important help for the acting beginner Achleitner: "I could hold to the precise defaults."

The perfect planner Jo Baier was only unlucky with one thing: because he needed a real musician for the main role, he had given Hubert von Goisern the role. And because he had already engaged a musician, he also wanted the music for Hölleisengretl from him.

That went wrong. "Jo Baier did not like what I had composed," says Hubert von Goisern. No wonder, because because the Austrian had written a music for sheets of metal and glass jars. Hubert has casually put away the flop and is trying his composer's luck with film music for Schlafes Bruder from Josef Vilsmaier.

The modern opera is film

OÖN 13th April 1995

Hubert von Goisern gives his acting debut on Easter Sunday in the TV film Hölleisengretl

As Hubert von Goisern he explained his - temporary - retirement. As Hubert Achleitner, the Mostdipf prizewinner shows himself for the first time as an actor on Easter Sunday on ZDF (9.45pm), in fact in Joe Baier's Hölleisengretl. "Regrettably," said Hubert, "the ORF did not collaborate as co-producers."

The acting challenge, he says, came at exactly the right time. "I had already felt the urge in me for a long time to have a musical break. I said that in an interview eighteen months ago. And I also spoke about the fact that I wanted to have a good look at the subject of film. The Munich Elan Production heard about it, there was a discussion with Joe Baier, who also directed Hölleisengretl, and the filming started during a tour break. In view of the fact that I wanted to make a film myself, I thought that it would be a good opportunity to learn."

Hubert plays the farmer Matthias who was captured in the Russia campaign and was reported missing. Five years later he returns and since the oldest son has already taken over the farm, Matthias feels "unwanted" and goes off on travels and meets the proud, beautiful young farmer woman from Hölleisen farm, who however suffers under the affliction of a hump and is constantly derided because of it. "The two, as "outcasts", take a fancy to each other and marry. And as they say, fate runs its course."

After this first attempt, Hubert von Goisern alias Achleitner, felt that "I could be a good actor, that I have the talent for it. Joe Baier and my co-star also confirmed that it could work. Since then I have completed a screenplay with Julian Pölsler that I want to make a film of this year. A homeland film, if you want, but not in the traditional style. It will be as much a homeland film as my music is folk music - and hopefully just as successful. The story plays in the mountains and in the cities. Rural ways of life and rural milieu will be seen through the eyes of a city dweller who must have a good look at this culture. The screenplay does away with the romantic illusion of country life."

Film fascinates Hubert von Goisern because it "is a different form of expression from music. I was also always fascinated by opera, fifteen years ago I even planned to write one. In the meantime I realised that modern opera is film. Certainly I don't just want to act, but to also be co-director next to Julian Pölsler. I have too concrete an image of how the film should look for me to be satisfied with acting ambitions alone." Hubert von Goisern has also sniffed into the film environment with Schlafes Bruder (world premiere in September in Hochmontafon) and with Norbert Schneider has written the film music.

Before his exit for a time from the stage, Hubert was awarded quadruple platinum for his album Aufgeigen stått Niederschiassen in the Bad Dürrnberg mine. In retrospect, as he describes in the interview, a "totally melancholy story": "Such a thing has something of a funeral about it. I did not find many words in the mine at all, otherwise my emotions would have overcome me."

To "why?" he says: "I just simply wanted my peace. I have already performed my "duty" and if that leads to routine, it is time for an artist to take a break. I am now trying to live for six months largely without concert dates, to read a pile of books and to be a good father to my two children. And then we will see what style of songs come out of me. In autumn next year, it could be that I go into the studio for another album."

Scenes from the film

Photos: © ZDF