The Inheritors

  • 1998
  • Movie
  • R
  • Drama

Writer-director Stefan Ruzowitsky wraps this tale of peasants and farmers in rural, pre-WWII Austria inside an unusual murder mystery, turning a moderately interesting Socialist parable into something quite intriguing. Early one morning, the murdered body of a much-despised farmer is found lying outside his cottage, the handiwork, it seems, of a mysterious...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Writer-director Stefan Ruzowitsky wraps this tale of peasants and farmers in rural, pre-WWII Austria inside an unusual murder mystery, turning a moderately interesting Socialist parable into something quite intriguing. Early one morning, the murdered

body of a much-despised farmer is found lying outside his cottage, the handiwork, it seems, of a mysterious old woman named Rosalind (Elisabeth Orth). In a perverse stroke of malice, the farmer bequeaths his land to his peasants with the expectation that these lowly, ignorant laborers would

destroy one another fighting over the inheritance. Much to the chagrin of the rest of the greedy farmers who would like a piece of the farm for themselves, the opposite happens: The peasants, under the guidance of the happy-go-lucky Lukas (Simon Schwarz) and his lover Emmy (Sophie Ross), organize

themselves and the farm into an efficiently run collective, working day and night while learning a few things about self-determination. But in this virtually feudal world where it's held that only the land-owning class should ever own property, and that for peasants to own their own farm flies in

face of God, it's an arrangement that cannot be tolerated for long -- especially when it threatens to undermine the social structure of the entire community. Ruzowitsky's film is well within the age-old tradition of the Heimat or "homeland" film -- an uniquely Germanic genre full of

peasants, farmers and the Bavarian countryside. It's a type of film that's perhaps best appreciated by those familiar with German cinema, but Ruzowitsky's a director with style to spare, his cast is superb, and the mystery surrounding the farmer's death and Roslind's identity keeps the film open

to a much broader audience, regardless of nationality or expertise.

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  • Released: 1998
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Writer-director Stefan Ruzowitsky wraps this tale of peasants and farmers in rural, pre-WWII Austria inside an unusual murder mystery, turning a moderately interesting Socialist parable into something quite intriguing. Early one morning, the murdered body… (more)

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