Romeo and Juliette in the Village, 1941

Hans Trommer and Valerien Schmidely’s social realist peasant drama, Romeo and Juliette in the Village is a well-photographed, but ultimately contrived and non-cohesive tale of the failed romantic destiny of young lovers Vreneli and Sali who are separated by their families’ financially devastating legal dispute over an interstitial tract of land between their respective farms. The presentation of the naturalistic landscape as a seeming character – further embodied in the omnipresent and enigmatic, though woefully underformed role of the dark fiddler who briefly attempts to lay claim to the contested land and subsequently officiates their mock wedding marriage ceremony that concludes with a sinister group dance through the country (along a similar vein as Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal) – is perhaps the film’s strongest feature. However, too many convenient plot devices are introduced then summarily discarded in order to create narrative progression and tone throughout the film, resulting in a fragmented, imbalanced, and unfocused work.

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