Kassel (2016) follows Friedrich who is struggling with the recent loss of his family in 1940's Kassel, Germany. With the chaos of World War II not far away, Friedrich must fight an internal battle to prevent the darkness of the war from consuming him.
Kassel is an impressive first film by writer and director Earl Wayne Crabtree II. While it does have a few flaws, for the most part, it is a beautifully shot and well-acted short film. With this being Crabtree's first attempt at a short film, I was concerned that 1940's World War II Germany was going to be too great of a feat for him. A solution to showcasing the nearby war without showing it was in the way Crabtree utilized sound to give the perception of war. This fascinated me.
Kassel features very little dialogue so it is no surprise that the team paid great attention to the film’s visuals. The film utilizes some interesting filming locations and set pieces that help to define the tone of the film and convey the struggles Friedrich is dealing with. I only had two issues with the cinematography. First, some of the edits were a bit abrupt and I found that it took me out of the film at times. Second, the film over utilizes establishing shots. The setting is small and contained, and the film seemed to spend an unnecessary amount of time on these shots (especially since the film only has a runtime of 23 minutes).
The small cast all provides strong performances in their short roles. Hauke Bahr, who plays Friedrich, effectively portrays his character. A minor critique with Bahr's performance was that his physical limp could have been more convincing.
In the end, my biggest criticism of the film was the story. When I spoke with Crabtree, he mentioned that he wanted viewers of the film to determine parts of the story for themselves. While I am all for this style of filmmaking, I felt like too much of the story went untold. I found I was a little confused and trying to figure out what is going on too often. With a short film, it is important that the story be conveyed effectively. I wasn't completely lost, but I do feel there was room for improvement with the story.
Overall, Kassel is an impressive first film from writer and director Earl Wayne Crabtree II. The film's effective cinematography and performances immerse you in the setting, but the story leaves a bit too much to the viewer's interpretation. I give Kassel (2016) a 6 out of 10.
To learn more about Kassel, checkout NWP Films.