CAREFUL May 14 2002

After a long day in the coal mines, Klara persuades her sister Zeglinda into a skinny-dip. Once she has her sister in the water, she tries to make her wash her face, and when Zeglinda refuses, Klara almost drowns her. When their father sees this, he's as pissed as a wasp working six night shifts a week, and yells at Klara while he lets Zeglinda off. Klara is furious. Why won't her sister wash her face? Why is Zeglinda the favourite daughter? Heartbroken and angry, she leaves for the mountains.

Meanwhile, Grigorss is suspicious about his mother. The count had been asking questions about her earlier, and when he tells her, she acts all funny and passes out. Later, when he happens to be walking in the mountains, he hears them talking together. And guess what, they used to be sweethearts, and they still have the hots for each other.

Zenaida never loved the swanfeeder, and when Franz was born, she tried to make her husband feed the baby to the swans. Of course he wouldn't, he's the sanest person in the entire movie, and given the fact that he's a blind ghost who put his own eye out with a freak cuckoo clock, that says a whole deal about the rest of the bunch. But! When Zenaida hated her first-born because of her hate for the father, why does she get along with Grigorss and the late Johann? You got it, the count is Grigorss's dad! Which means the only reason he was promoted, and at all employed, was that the count is a nepotist. And to top it off, I just realized that this means Grigorss messed up his own grandmother's dead body. It rains shit on Grigorss.

Klara isn't exactly all flowers today either. She tries winning her father back by bringing him up to her mountain cave, suggesting that they live there together and tell each other fairytales. Klara had blindfolded him and told him Zeglinda would come with them, and when he realizes she isn't there, he runs back down to the village while yelling 'Zeglinda! Zeglinda!' Once again, Klara has lost the game of love. Dear god, Freud would choke on his own cigar if he lived to see this film.

While Klara is mending her wounds up in her cave, Grigorss is having dinner with the count, his mother, and fancy guests. The count declares that he is to marry Zenaida and that Grigorss is to be his sole heir. When Grigorss is asked to give his blessings, he slaps the count with a napkin and challenges him to a duel. Something is rotten in the village of Tolzbad, and Grigorss is determined to sort it all out, even if it means killing his own father. Hey, I just realized that Grigorss is Oedipus! And all this time, I thought Johann was the Greek tragic hero, when he was just a sick little German puppy after all. No wonder he died so early on.

Back to Klara/Electra: Our heroine walks goallessly around in the mountains when she meets a crazy lady chained to a rock. I have no idea why a Neanderthal woman is trapped in the German alps, but she seems ecstatic about trashing around in the cold. When Klara meets her, they look at each other for a while. Then, Klara browses her loved ones in her mind: from Johann to her father to Grigorss. She decides to go for Grigorss. Then the cavelady dies. Or passes out. I'm not sure. I'll never figure it out, and refuse to deal with it. Maybe she isn't real, but a symbol for Klara's wild desire. Yeah, I'll buy that.

Grigorss's mother tries to persuade him into dropping the challenge, and Grigorrs agrees on one term: She will accept Franz as her son. It's a deal, and Franz is thrilled to hear that the mother who has locked him up in an attic for twenty-five years will let him down to secure her own love interest. We'll have to appreciate this, because it's the closest we'll get to a Kodak moment in this film.

All would be well, if it wasn't for Klara. She tells Grigorrs that if he stands up for the swanfeeder's honor, she'll play doctor with him. Again, Grigorrs decides to kill his father. How many lives do you have to ruin in your twisted games, Klara?! How many lives?!

By the way, as a token of affection, Klara gives Grigorss the hair she has lost the last three months. I'm serious, she has collected hair for three months, and gives to Grigorss to prove her love. Run, Grigorss! Can't you tell she's bad news? She's giving you a chunk of hair the size of your head! Hello!

Now we're given a crash course in Tolzbad dueling tradition: You undress each other in a blizzard. At first, I thought the purpose was to make your opponent freeze to death, but the truth is that you need to kill him with his own knife, and wearing it outside ones clothes would be stupid. Grigorss kills his father, and geese suddenly start making a racket. Luckily, the count's lackeys have soundless rifles, and are able to kill them before they start an avalanche. Grigorss walks home, passes out, and when he wakes up, his mother is greasing him up with goose fat (life is different in Tolzbad). Grigorss tells his mother that he has killed the count, and she tells him to piss off, and then hangs herself in front of Franz.

Grigorss runs to Klara, who takes him up to the mountains. She asks Grigorss if he wants to live in the cave with her: "We can live on berries and grasses and small animals we kill with sharp sticks." Jesus Christ, Grigorss, just run already!

To make matters worse, she comes up with a dreadful lie about her father raping her. And do you know what's more painful than watching a German psychopath lying about rape to manipulate a motherless young man? It's watching her doing it while yawning constantly because of the oxygen level in the heights.

Soon enough, Grigorss goes for the bait. They come up with a plot: They will get Klara's father to join them in a sleigh ride up the mountain, fire a gun to start an avalanche, and them run into the cave while the poor old man plummets to his death. Everything runs along smoothly until...

Klara runs over to her father, slips him the tongue, and joins him as he falls down. Grigorss is left alone in the cave, alone and stark raving mad. We are treated with an epilogue where Zelinda and Franz journey out to find their lost siblings, and the film's over.

There you go. In this case, I felt it necessary to retell the entire film to be ably to convey the true spirit of it, and I might stick to this technique in future articles. Better cut down on the numbers of pictures, though. Anyway, Careful might not be Average Johnny's choice for Saturday night entertainment, but it's interesting nonetheless.

- IMDb entry