A pal reblogged a post on Tumblr the other day of a list of movies with the theme “Damn yall, she did that” or something along those lines 😄 It had your Gone Girl, your A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, but it did not have Bernhard Wicki’s 1964 The Visit which I just happen to catch one 3 am simply because I felt like I hadn’t seen an old movie in a while.
First of all, if you wish to watch it, please do not Google it! I feel like its trailers and IMDB summaries spoil it. I will be talking about the whole thing (and therefore spoiling it), but I also think that if you know, you can still rewatch it, catch the irony, and still have things to analyze.
The Visit looked interesting because the tv guide description was something like, “A rich woman returns to the small European town where she was born.” And being from a smaller city, I know that small means TRADITIONAL. And there would be reason for a film unless she is showing them up!!!
Ingrid Bergman (Casablanca) plays the woman, Karla Zachanassian, who is said to “own 5% of the world” after her husband dies. She returns to her small hometown of Guellen which has gone bankrupt. After some cajoling by town officials and even her former lover, Serge Miller, Karla announces she will give Guellen 2 million– on the condition that they kill Serge.
After calling out the mayor’s and other town heads’ flattery to be gracious lies, she further reveals that when she was impregnated by Serge 20 years earlier, he paid off two men to give false testimonies, portray her as promiscuous and of low morals. The child was taken away from Karla and soon died.
Guellen is horrified at the proposition, but Karla says that she can wait. Old women chastise, “she should know better.” Serge’s wife, Mathilda, wonders how she could get “decent” people to agree to murder. However, it does not takes long for the rundown town to at least consider and soon the idea spreads.
Citizens start to buy fancy things from Serge’s shop on credit, and he becomes paranoid. He tries to leave town, but a crowd blocks him, laughing. Eventually even Mathilda seems nonchalant about the inevitability of Serge’s death.
Town leaders approach Karla with a counteroffer. Guellen has mines and factories that she could buy. Karla laughs for nearly TWENTY SECONDS uninterrupted. She’s already bought them. She’s owned them this entire time.
Eventually, a vote is held in front of Guellen with all officials sentencing Serge to die. Even the doctor, who seemed sympathetic to both Karla and Serge, votes for the money, shrugging, “What good would one vote have been?”
Before Serge is put to death, Karla asks the town– repeatedly– if anyone, one person finds it unjust. They are as silent as Serge is dead. Then, she turns on them again. She brands them killers, murderers. When they protest, she says they’re to keep the money: “If you killed him, in a few weeks, you might begin to forget.”
I thought that The Visit was phenomenal and highly recommend it. I would love to hear if readers have read the play it’s based on as Wikipedia says it’s a German keystone. Although I wanted to add it to a list featuring Amy Dunne,The Visit is not as exaggerated as Gone Girl (or is it?) but has that classic writing sprinkled with philosophic comments and dialogue that’s not only being spoken by a character but really represents them. The philosophic comments really give you something to think about with the various themes presented.
Have you seen The Visit or another adaptation? Would you compare it to Gone Girl?