Age of Uprising: the Legend of Michel Kohlhaas – SIFF 40 Review


Mads MikkelsEn is just about the only thing that saves this borderline snooze fest.

Age of Uprising: the Legend of Michel Kohlhaas is a unique take on the much celebrated classic fable by Heinrich Von Kleiss.  The only problem is, here in the states very few people have ever heard of it.  Much of the emotion that director Arnaud des Pallieres is trying to convey on screen gets lost between reading subs and fitting poorly cut puzzle pieces together.

That being the case, I found it very hard to keep up with a story that seemed to unfold very aggressively with little attention payed to character development or exposition.  Several characters are introduced within the first 20 minutes of this film, some are important while others are treated with a sense of importance but are never seen again.  Because of this, the audience is only able to connect with a handful of cast members, whether or not this was intentional is still unknown.  If the director’s intent was to let the story be the work horse and the characters be tools, then the job was done well, but the results were a failure.

Mads Mikkelsen’s intensity brings the character of Michel Kohlhaas to the screen and gets you behind his quest for personal justice as well as revenge.  Delphine Chuillot plays Judith Kohlhaas, Michel’s wife, who is apparently attacked (we never really find out by whom) when she attempts to plea to the Princess of France for justice in a case which saw two of the Kohlhaas’ horses being seized by an evil land baron illegally and then abused.  This attack kills Judith, so Kohlhaas abandons his life as a horse merchant and takes up arms with neighboring villagers (a move that is unexplained again) to hunt down the Baron who wronged him and attempt to find justice.

Bruno Ganz (Holy Motors), provides an emotional performance that unfortunately gets lost in attempting to understand who his character is and what his motivation is.

As the story unfolds, several points come into question that are narrative related, but are ultimately mowed over by the story. The film is like Bravehart if it started like, 40 minutes in and Mel Gibson only spoke half as much.  Even then, I feel like Braveheart’s story would’ve been more apparent than that of Age of Uprising. I really wanted to like this movie, but lack of cohesion in the story left me at a loss and unable to embrace the film.

Check out the trailer below:

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on “Age of Uprising: the Legend of Michel Kohlhaas – SIFF 40 Review
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