‘Effigy - Poison and the City’ : A Captivating Dive into 1828 Bremen's Dark Secrets" - AmNews Curtain Raiser


Friday, May 3, 2024

‘Effigy - Poison and the City’ : A Captivating Dive into 1828 Bremen's Dark Secrets"


‘Effigy - Poison and the City’ : A Captivating Dive into 1828 Bremen's Dark Secrets"

Haunted by Whispers: A Review of "Effigy: Poison and the City"

The award-winning indie film "Effigy: Poison and the City" takes us on a chilling journey to 1828 Bremen, Germany. Adapted from a stage play, writer-director Udo Flohr crafts a suspenseful atmosphere where shadows seem to hold secrets.  We enter a world on the cusp of change, with whispers of progress (the arrival of the railroads) clashing with the stoic resistance of tradition-bound leaders.

At the center of this tension lies Gesche Gottfried (Suzan Anbeh), a beautiful widow shrouded in suspicion.  The townspeople revere her as "The Angel of Bremen" for her charity, yet a string of deaths casts a dark shadow.  Senator Droste (Christoph Gottschalch) and his sharp law clerk, Cato Böhmer (Elisa Thiemann), delve into the investigation, uncovering a truth as dismal as it is unsettling.

Flohr paints a surrealistic view of Bremen, a community desperate to cling to normalcy.  The film moves deliberately, building tension as the investigation unfolds.  Discussions about the railroad become metaphors for the societal shift threatening the established order.

Gesche's own voice becomes a chilling character.  She claims to be tormented by a seductive voice instructing her to kill.  The prevailing religious and legal views paint her actions as the product of a "fragile mind," a dismissive label that chills viewers as much as it empowers Gesche's accusers.

Cato, a strong-willed woman navigating a male-dominated world, becomes a powerful counterpoint to Gesche.  Their dynamic is a fascinating exploration of power, class, and the limitations placed upon women in this era.  As Gesche tells Cato, "death is lurking everywhere," and the film masterfully captures this sense of pervasive doom.

While the mystery of Gesche's guilt is undeniable, the film's true power lies in exploring the "why."  Was it the manipulative voice or something more sinister lurking within the oppressive society itself?  This ambiguity keeps viewers engaged long after the credits roll.

Beautiful camerawork by Thomas Kist and editing by Sven Pape seamlessly transport us to 1828 Bremen.  The production design by Knut Splett-Henning and Christina von Ahlefeldt creates a richly detailed world, while Katja Pilgrim's costume design, though perhaps slightly modern in feel, adds another layer of intrigue to the characters.

"Effigy: Poison and the City" is a haunting exploration of good and evil, sanity and madness.  


- Asti Film Festival (2019).

Winner - Jury Award, Prima Cosa Bella International

- Cyprus International Film Festival (2019).

Winner - Best Editing

Winner - Best Costume Design

Winner - Best Feature Film

Nominee - Best Music

Nominee - Best Cinematography

Nominee - Best Screenplay

Nominee - Best Lead Actress

- European Cinematography Awards (2019). 

Winner - Best Feature Film Cinematography

- London Independent Film Awards (2019).

Winner - Best Trailer

- Filmfest Bremen (2019)

Nominee - Jury & Audience Award, Bremer Preis

- Long Island International Film Expo (2019).

Nominee - Best Trailer

- Scottsdale International Film Festival (2020). 

Winner - Best Supporting Actress in a Leading Role

- Mind the Indie Film Festival (2020).

Winner - Best Feature Film

- WorldFest Houston (2020)

Winner - Best Historical Feature

Winner - Best Art Direction

- ReelHeART International Film Festival (2020). 

Winner - Best of Fest (Founders Award)

Winner - Best Historical Drama

Winner - Best First Time Filmmaker

Winner - Best Cinematography

Winner - Best Original Score 

Winner - Best Production Design

Winner - Best Set Decoration

Nominee - Best Feature Film 

Nominee - Best International Film 

Nominee - Best Editing

- Flathead Lake International Cinemafest (2020).

Winner - Best Foreign Film

Winner - Best Actor (Female)

Nominee - Best Original Score

Nominee - Best Cinematography

Nominee - Best Actor (Male)

Nominee - Best Director

- Beaufort International Film Festival (2020).

Winner - Best Actress

Nominee - Best Director

Nominee - Best Feature Film

- Queens World Film Festival (2020).

Nominee - Best Cinematography

Nominee - Best Ensemble (Narrative Feature)

- San Francisco Indiefest (2020). 

Nominee - Best Narrative Feature

- Garden State Film Festival (2020). 

Nominee - Best Ensemble

- Las Cruces International Film Festival (2020).

Nominee - Best International Film 

- Dallas Independent Film Festival (2020).

Nominee - Best Thriller

Suzan Anbeh as Gesche Gottfried
Elisa Thiemann as Cato Bohmer
Christoph Gottschalch as Senator Droste
Roland Jankowsky as Kapitan Ehlers
Uwe Bohm as Kommissar Tonjes
Marc Optiker as Dr. Hoffschlager
Tom Keidel as Kanzlist Muller
Nicola Melissa as Beta Schmidt
Eugen-Daniel Korber as Dr. Luce
Marita Marschall as Magd Dorothée

Directed and Written By Udo Flohr
Written By Peter Meter & Antonia Roeller 
Produced By Udo Flohr & Patricia Ryan
Music By Nic Raine
Cinematography By Thomas Kist
Film Editing By Sven Pape
Production Design By Knut Splett-Henning & Christina von Ahlefeldt
Costume Design By Katja Pilgrim

Historical Background: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gesche_Gottfried

Golden Globes:


Streaming in 4K: http://effigy.film

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