What You Need To Know:
(H, Pa, So, LLL, V, S, A, DD, M) Humanist worldview with pagan elements of suicidal man; 91 obscenities & 5 profanities; mild violence including man shot; implied adultery & sexual situations; no nudity; alcohol use; smoking & strong drug use shown; and, socialist elements.
HANNAH, an Austrian film with English subtitles, succeeds at turning a love story into a political thriller. The audience first meets Hannah (played by Elfi Eschke) as she is applying for a job as a Public Relations Director in the Hochstedt Company, a producer of toys. We quickly find out that Hannah is quite a colorful character. She is assertive bordering on aggressive and a free spirit with a “normal is boring, but different is the spice of life” philosophy. She is very likeable with a good sense of humor and a quick wit. Through her persistence, Hannah is hired by the Executive Director, Albert Heck (played by Jurgen Hentsch), who happens to like assertiveness in his employees. Albert’s nephew, Wolfgang Heck (played by August Zirner), a straight-laced businessman and managing director of the toy company, is attracted to Hannah’s direct, unconventional manner. Pursuing her, they fall in love and their lives take some interesting turns.
In the process of setting up publicity shots with the company’s dolls, Hannah unwittingly finds a computer floppy disc hidden in one of the dolls. Viewing the contents of the disc, she is appalled to discover that the disc is an interactive national socialist computer game. She promptly hides the disc, not telling anyone in the company of her discovery. In the meantime, Hannah continues her relationship with Wolfgang, not knowing if he is part of the terrorist propaganda.
The audience learns that Albert Heck’s son, Helge, is one of the terrorist leaders. His intense hatred for any foreigners becomes quite apparent as he leads his paramilitary group in the killing of innocent victims who have a different ancestry. He is ruthless and heartless in his hatred to the point of madness. Several puppet companies, including the toy company, are used for smuggling propaganda and weapons. Further complicating the plot, Hannah’s Jewish lineage leads to conflicts in Wolfgang between his feelings for Hannah, his feelings for his family and, to some degree, his own fear and hatred of foreigners.
HANNAH is a well-developed, believable story that takes the audience on a thrill ride without being too graphic or sensational. It also weaves lighthearted humor through Hannah’s amusing character. This film addresses some present day real life issues such as xenophobia (the fear of strangers) and the devastating consequences of violence. Because the world is still filled with prejudice, HANNAH’s message prompts viewers to think about their own feelings toward and treatment of other people.
Elfi Eschke portrays Hannah brilliantly. Winner of the Best Actress Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Eschke has appeared in three other films directed by Schwabenitzky. Her presence on screen is enchanting. She captures the essence of who Hannah is. It is refreshing to see the lead female role played by an actress who does not have the body of a supermodel (Hannah is overweight), but relies on her talent to attract the audience’s attention. August Zirner’s performance is quite good as he secures the more subtle role of Wolfgang, depicting his inner struggles well.
The political message conveyed by HANNAH shows that there are bigots all over the world who will resort to violence to eradicate those who are different from them.