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'Enlightenment Guaranteed' at Foreign Film Series


Published (Volume 76, No. 30)


Credit: Courtesy of thecastrotheatre.com
Credit: Courtesy of thecastrotheatre.com

‘Enlightenment Guaranteed’ combines a German movie with English subtitles about Zen meditation in a Japanese culture.

This combination makes this movie have all the basic ingredients necessary for a very entertaining and ‘enlightening’ movie.

At the onset, chaos and mayhem ensues as a typical couple with four small children face yet another hectic start of their day.

The husband and father, Uwe, is seemingly unconcerned and uninvolved in the children’s needs as the morning ritual turns into a crying and screaming match where every member of the family is miserable.

Switching scenes to his brother Gustav’s home, there is peace and tranquility, with a hard to detect tone of the same nature.

The movie flashes back to Uwe’s home, as Petra, disgusted with her husband’s belittling attitude and lack of assistance, packs the children and moves out of their home.

Discovering their absence upon his return home from work, Uwe panics and grieves, then visits his brother who is packing for a vacation to a monastery to study Zen meditation. Begging to go along and promising not to be of any trouble, Uwe persuades Gustav to allow him to come along to Japan.

The distain Uwe initially feels toward his brother’s beliefs quickly turns to compete acceptance of the strict discipline enforced upon them during their stay.

Not until the loss of their possessions as well as the directions of the hotel where they stay in Tokyo, Japan do they realize the inner peace that can be obtained by peace and understanding of the beliefs of the monks.

The trip causes both brothers to reevaluate their lifestyles and attitudes, promising to make their lives better upon their return to Germany. It was so appropriate that, as the brothers have always had their differences, they share a common thread.

It was a clever move by director Doris Dörrie to have the brother’s trades reflect an uncanny tie-in with the Zen meditation beliefs before their journey even began. Uwe is employed as a kitchen countertop salesman with an aesthetic eye for form and balance and is as polished as the products he sells. This constrasted and blended perfectly with Gustav’s job as a neurotic, compass-dependent feng shui consultant.

I enjoyed the movie very much, and would honestly have a difficult time choosing my favorite scene. Their unforgettable rendition of “I Will Survive” stands out as one of my favorite scenes, and is a turning point in the film as a kind, young German woman recognizes the language and helps them on their way.

The comments filmed with Uwe’s home video camera were hilarious, revealing, tragic and entertaining all at the same time.

I thoroughly recommend this film to anyone who would open their minds up to a foreign film and open their hearts as well to these two very fine actors and the amazing director who put the entire endeavor together with style, respect for differing cultures, and ‘enlightenment’.

This movie will be presented by UTM dept. of modern foreign languages at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 23 in Watkins Auditorium. Admission is free.