A short excerpt from the Booklet essay by Brad Stevens.
Where today might we find a cinema that retains some connection with the humanism of Jean Renoir, that views its characters with (not necessarily uncritical) affection rather than an attitude of lofty superiority? We might turn to the masterpieces of Hou Hsiao-hsien, or (if we can find them, because, significantly, they have not been released in English-speaking countries) the recent films of Abel Ferrara. We might seek out the even lesser known Agua e sal (Water and Salt, 2001) by Teresa Villaverde. Or, thanks to Second Run, we could watch a DVD of Pia Marais' sublime Die Unerzogenen (The Unpolished, 2006).
The Unpolished focuses on Stevie Opladen (Céci Chuh), who has just moved from Portugal to Berlin with her mother, Lily (Pascale Schiller). She is reunited with her father, Axel (Birol Ünel), who has just been released from prison, where he was serving a sentence for drug dealing. The family move into a house left to Lily by her recently deceased father, and are joined by their friend Ingmar (Georg Friedrich, who has appeared in several Haneke films), and various hangers-on. Reacting against her parents' 'irresponsible' way of living, Stevie dreams of a more conventional life-style. According to Marais, "The film is thematically autobiographical, in that I grew up with parents who liked to move around quite a bit from one country to the next. Perhaps it was the lack of authoritative parental guidance, in fact a rather conscious decision on their part to avoid it, perhaps my feeling that they didn't have any control of their lives or mine that is part of the worrying theme (at least to me) of the film and what is autobiographical about it. The rest is invented. And yet, whilst we were writing the script, I realized that the tone would need to be very different from that of my childhood or memories of it, because times had changed. Almost as though things had become harder, but that might just be a very subjective notion. I also think, as many people say, it is difficult to make a film in which there is no real conflict. So we thought about a character who tries to get grounding, and every time she believes in something, the meaning changes. Also, I think that the film touches on a time in Berlin, which perhaps gave the city its charm. A place where there was, to an extent, a trend amongst certain people not to move on and embrace being middle aged or growing into responsible adults. I think we found inspiration in our vicinity for the characters, yet this changed again with the casting process. In fact, I think the cast gave the film a slightly harder tone. I think that the actors, who either already knew one another well or got to know one another during shooting, all drew from their own experiences to an extent. They were all very generous in that. I think it is quite brave to take on a part which could be interpreted as being very close to your own person. In a particular way, perhaps with one exception, this was the case. So in fact we were all in the project exposing something private about ourselves, and we knew it. This may sound pathetic but I understood much later that what had brought me to think about the story at all was the very last scene."
Brad Steven’s complete Essay, from which this short excerpt is taken, appears in the booklet of the DVD release.
Length / The Unpolished: 94 minutes
Length / Special feature: 16 minutes
Sound: Original stereo (restored)
Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English On/Off
Release Date: 12th July 2010
Second Run DVD 049