One of the things I like about following the careers of film actors, is when I’m introduced to a film through them that I might not have stumbled across otherwise. Ewan McGregor in ‘Little Voice’, Richard Armitage in ‘Sparkhouse’, James McAvoy in ‘Starter for 10’ (I love Benedict Cumberbatch in that one too!), and now Dan Stevens in Hilde. I can safely say that I would not have come across Hilde on my own and just decided to watch it on a whim, because it’s in German, and I (unfortunately) only speak English. but thanks to the wonder of subtitles, I was able to follow along and ended up really enjoying this film.
Hilde is about the German actress/singer Hildegard Knef. It shows what she went through in order to follow her dream and become an actress, the hurdles and hardships she had to overcome. First as a young woman in Germany during World War II, then as a War Bride trying to catch a break in Hollywood, and finally as a well known name back on her native soil- though maybe not always ‘known’ for the right reasons. Hilde had spirit and tenacity in abundance, but also a good dose of naivete. She had a tendency to jump into things feet first, which always seemed to come back and bite her later.
So by the time she finds herself back in Germany as a well known actress, she’s a bit rough around the edges and cynical. This is when Dan Stevens steps in, playing an actor by the name of David Cameron, who is set to costar with Hilde in a movie.
The first meeting between Hilde and David is not all sunshine and roses. He jovially introduces himself, while Hilde tells him to be quiet because she needs to ‘shut down’. He eventually breaks through her protective wall with some self depreciating British charm.
And so she invites him to a party that she’s hosting, enticing him to attend by promising that industry insiders will be there. When he shows up though, some surprises are in store. He surprises her by speaking German (he communicated in English up until this point), and she surprises him by being the only one present; she canceled the party to spend time with him instead.
What follows is a love story that I really liked. It was short, compared to the rest of the movie, but meaningful to me in the way that David connected with Hilde. He understood her, didn’t judge her, kept calm through her storms of fear and doubt, and encouraged her to pursue her dream of becoming a singer.
There’s a ‘morning after’ scene with Hilde and David in bed together that I find particularly sweet. They are so playful with one another, caressing hands and full of smiles. She gestures for him to listen, and when he does but seems confused about what he’s supposed to be hearing, she says it’s her happiness. He then proclaims that it’s a historic moment because Hilde is happy! it’s really cute.
In another scene, Hilde has finally gathered the nerve to record a song professionally. David has never heard her sing before and shows up in the recording studio to watch. The person working the soundboard tells him that she’s really nervous and David says he’s already made up his mind to tell her that she’s brilliant, regardless of what she sounds like. The song she sings is so good though, so heartfelt, that it makes him cry. You can see how proud of her he is, how much he admires and loves her.
I found the film interesting for it’s historical subject matter, inspiring for Hilde’s determination to become an actress at any cost, and touching for the emotional support that she finally finds in David.
I’m not familiar with the real actress/singer Hildegard Knef, so I can’t say whether Heike Makatsch captured her mannerisms and essence, but I liked the deeper sounding voice that she used for the character.
Dan Stevens’ eyes hypnotized (like always) and the floppy hair style just added to his charm; I’ve always had a weak spot for the floppy haired look.
I liked hearing him speak his lines in German too. I can’t rightfully judge whether he spoke it well or not, but it sounded nice to my ears. Watching this film was an all around pleasant experience: good story, nice music, and a delightful Dan Stevens. win/win!