Vol 2, No 11
20 March 2000
Chance at the End of the Millennium
Thorsten Schmidt's Schnee In Der Neujahrsnacht
Elke de Wit
Thorsten Schmidt's Schnee In Der Neujahrsnacht (Snow On New Year's Eve, 1999) is a film aiming to cash in on millennium fever, by trying to intertwine the fates of a group of motley characters on the last night of the twentieth century.
The opening scenes to promise a gangster comedy with at least a semblance of realism. Two jailbirds leave prison, Frank is picked up by his gang in a flash van, the other, "Toto," played by Jürgen Tarrach, leaves on foot and makes his way to the bus depot, where he starts work as a bus driver.
All subsequent events rely on implausible coincidence. Toto ends up with a heavily pregnant Russian beauty, the corpse of an African drug runner and an escapee bear on his bus, and all on his first night to boot. We soon discover that the drug runner was about to do a deal with Toto's jailbird pal, so Frank's gang are after Toto to retrieve the drugs, which are still handcuffed to the dead body.
The ending of Schnee In Der Neujahrsnacht is unsurprisingly sensational: the Russian woman's baby is born at midnight; Toto helps to deliver it in the open air, overlooking the fireworks of Berlin, the drug dealers crash the bus, with the bear still on it. At this point someone from the cast comments "it's almost over", my silent response was "yes, please let it be soon!" The final joke is the bear opening up the suitcase containing the drugs and throwing clouds and clouds of white powder - the snow of the film's lamentable title - into the air.
The hapless Toto is a typical anti-hero, and I was grateful that Jürgen Tarrach managed to play him with some dignity. Although excellent acting skills cannot be a substitute for a silly plot, without Tarrach this feature would surely have degenerated further. A film is certainly failing to entertain when you stop caring about what's going to happen next, but yearn for an actor to reappear, just so that there is someone of interest on screen.
DJ Zippo's challenge to his listeners to make the last night of the century a night of small miracles may be a sweet idea, but unfortunately sweet ideas alone do not stimulate for 1 hour and 40 minutes.
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