Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Monpti (1957, Helmut Kautner)

It gives me great pleasure to introduce a film by my favourite German director, Helmut Kautner.  Helmut Kautner was a true storyteller and humanist. 

I grew up in a German household and Kautner films were a regular feature and thus I feel a little nostalgic when I watch these films.  His films are engaging and centre on the every-man/woman and the comedies and tragedies that weave through all our lives.

The film I watched last night was Monpti.  A story about a young, poor, Hungarian art student (Horst Buchholz), living in Paris, who meets a beautiful girl, Anne Claire (Romy Schneider), in a park on a lovely summers day.

The young art student falls madly in love with her and spends his few coins in an effort to woo and win her heart.  But Anne Claire, though clearly interested, does not give in so easily.  Anne Claire tells him she is the daughter of a wealthy family, which makes the young arts student’s pursuit of her even more challenging.

Eventually they are in are tender relationship.  Anne Claire refers to the young man as ‘Monpti’ short for Mon Petite.   But this relationship soon becomes tumultuous when Monpti discovers that everything Anne Claire has ever told him about her, is nothing but fantasy and lies.

There is also a second story intertwined through this tale, which is about a rich couple that are in complete contrast to Anne Claire and Monpti.

Whenever I finish watching a Kautner film, I always want to share it with my close friends, but I can never seem to find a copy with English subtitles! I hope, one day, more old German films are restored and available with English subtitles. Some of these films are such gems they should be shared to a wider audience.

I love this film for many reasons: It is by my favourite German director; It is a tragedy but it has a lot of funny, touching moments between the characters and its a fun look at human idiosyncrasies; it stars my favourite German actress, Romy Schneider, and… it always makes me want to have a duckling for a pet!


  1. How much did I love reading this review Patty?? Monpti sounds like a wonderful, bittersweet film. I just want to watch it NOW and I also want a pet duckling, and go to Paris.
    I am very curious of Helmut Kautner - are there any films of his with English subtitles I could get my hands on that you recommend? Why do you think they are not made widely available at the moment?

  2. Thank you so much, Jo :) I found that if you google Monpti it suggests some websites to view online for free. And this might have English subtitles. I haven't investigated this much further but I'll have a look.

    There are some great ones. The ones that stick in my mind most are: The Girl from Flanders (1955), The Devils General (1955), The Captain of Kopenick (1956), The Rest is Silence (1957) and The Fire Tongue Bowl (1970).

    I found when I was in Germany that the majority of German films, old and new, did not have any subtitles besides German for the hearing impaired. I'm not sure why this is the case. I think that's sad and I haven't had much luck on Amazon either.

    I will post a Youtube clip I found which someone has put together. It provides snippets from the film. Again not subtitled but you get a flavour for what the film looks like.

  3. I really hope these films get released with subtitles soon.