The Basket

It took four writers to overstuff this turkey of a family drama, set amid the rolling wheat fields of the Pacific Northwest home front during World World I. Young Helmut Brink (Robert Karl Burke) and his older sister Brigitta (Amber Willenborg) are German war orphans sent to live with the pastor of Waterville, WA. With many of its own sons away at war,...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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It took four writers to overstuff this turkey of a family drama, set amid the rolling wheat fields of the Pacific Northwest home front during World World I. Young Helmut Brink (Robert Karl Burke) and his older sister Brigitta (Amber Willenborg) are German war

orphans sent to live with the pastor of Waterville, WA. With many of its own sons away at war, the small wheat-farming community eyes the German newcomers with suspicion, but Henrik and Brigitta aren't the only strangers in town. A new schoolteacher, Martin Conlon (Peter Coyote), has arrived from

Boston excited about a newfangled game he calls "basketball" and a phonograph recording of an allegorical German opera concerning the horrors of war and entitled "Der Korb" ("The Basket"); Conlon proceeds to teach his students about both. With great clumsiness, the film tries to draw parallels

between the opera's convoluted story, Conlon's attempt to whip his male students into a winning basketball team and the plight of Helmut and Brigitta as they face the townsfolk's prejudice. There are so many plot threads — one involves Karen Allen as the mother of a seriously wounded young

soldier — that during the inevitable basketball game climax, Helmut is not only able to cover the point spread, but save the life of a young epileptic boy at the same time. Yet despite the overplotting, there's scarcely any of the characterization that might have made some of it interesting.

Even Helmut gets shortchanged: He's allowed to have nightmares about his parents' murder at the hands of American soldiers, but no anti-American feelings of his own.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: PG
  • Review: It took four writers to overstuff this turkey of a family drama, set amid the rolling wheat fields of the Pacific Northwest home front during World World I. Young Helmut Brink (Robert Karl Burke) and his older sister Brigitta (Amber Willenborg) are German… (more)

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