Stories that have someone transformed by single moments in their life fascinate me. Sometimes the moments are enormous while sometimes they are small enough to almost slip by. It’s one of these tiny moments that change Schultze’s life almost overnight. Schultze Gets the Blues is a completely charming German drama/comedy from 2003 that had me under its spell from the beginning.
Schultze is a quiet man who gets “retired” from his job in a salt mine (parting gift: a salt lamp that can light up or be licked for salt). He spends his days doing not much of anything whether he’s alone or spending time with a couple of other guys who were also retired. He fishes from a bridge, he watches his buddies play chess and he plays accordion in the local polka band. Life is simple. Every day is a day of routines.
Routines change when one evening he is flipping through the radio dial and hears a form of accordion playing unlike anything he’s ever heard: zydeco! Schultze is bewitched and a tad confused by the ramped up accordion playing in the song. He tries to walk away but can’t. Soon the song is barging its way into any normal polka song that Schultze tries to play and he's cooking Cajun food for his buddies.
Schultze soon goes on a journey that he would never had noticed beginning had he not paid attention to this song on the radio. It was his nearly invisible moment but Schultze noticed it and let it change him. Sadly, I don’t think many of us notice these kinds of moments in our lives. Or, if we do notice them, we surely aren’t brave enough to let the moments take control and alter our path when we are faced with them.
That is what’s so sweet and rewarding about Schultze Gets the Blues—it is chock full of the notion of giving yourself over to the innocence of something new, anything new, no matter where the idea, the feeling or the moment leads you. To do that takes courage and Schultze might be quiet and soft spoken, but he’s got a lot of courage. And he's got a desire to play that zydeco!
There is very little dialogue in Schultze Gets the Blues and I get the feeling most of the actors aren’t professionals (at least the supporting roles)—something I actually like most of the time as it lends a realness and natural quality to a film if done right. Even with little dialogue, the film flashes by in a blur because it’s just got this magical story to it that swept me up.
Schultze Gets the Blues is one of my favorites for 2006 and is especially recommended for music lovers and romantics (or anyone else who just wants to see a/ a good movie or b/ a movie that makes you feel great to be alive!).