The Future of Emily

The Future of Emily / 2008 Facets / 106 Minutes / /

The Future of Emily was directed by Helma Sanders-Brahms, who is known as one of the founders of the New German Cinema movement along with Werner Herzog and Rainer Fossbinder. This 1985 film is headed up by Brigitte Fossey, whom individuals may remember from Cinema Paradiso). Brigitte’s character Isabelle is a famous film actress that has a busy schedule, and as such, has to entrust the care of eir daughter, Emily, to eir parents. Isabelle’s joy about being able to see Emily after ey has finished a film decreases due to two things. The immediate matter, fighting off the advances of a love-struck co-star, puts Isabella in conflict with eir parents.

This is due to the fact that eir parents (played by Hildegarde Knef (Fedora) and Ivan Desny (Berlin Alexanderplatz) are very conservative, and hold very traditional mores. As such, they see Isabelle’s lifestyle (and what they see as the decision of Isabelle to take Treusch’s character home) as being immoral and depraved, and feel that Isabelle is not providing Emily with a proper example. If trying to distance eirself from eir co-star was not enough, the emotional struggle that Isabelle has to wage causes eir to wonder if acting is necessarily what ey should be doing. The 106 minute runtime allows Sanders-Brahms to establish each generation of character with enough back story for viewers to understand intentions, as well as to draw the story though a rising action, a climax, and a strong finish.

It is my opinion that individuals that may not have been able to get into Sanders-Brahms’s other films, specifically “No Mercy, No Future”, will be able to properly understand and appreciate the plot and acting present in “The Future of Emily”. Where individuals may not have first hand experiences with schizophrenia, the conflict between different generations of family in regards to attitudes and mores is something that practically anyone watching in would be able to understand. Kudos has to go out to Facets in providing the ability for a new generation of English-speaking individuals the opportunity to watch what is one of Sanders-Brahms’ best films, one that does not lose a single step despite being over twenty years old. The film print is sharp, and the audio and subtitles are equally as sharp. As individuals can likely guess, the film is in German, but has English subtitles.

Rating: 8.2/10

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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