The Harmonists Reviews

  • Oct 26, 2019

    I've watched half of the silly thing. Nice actors. Story is obvious and since we all know how it turns out, they could have worked harder at really making something out of it. You know you are in trouble when at the midway point a character actually says "It's going so well now, the only way forward is down". BAAAAH. Some fun if you are interested in seeing what life in 1930's Berlin was like sort of.

    I've watched half of the silly thing. Nice actors. Story is obvious and since we all know how it turns out, they could have worked harder at really making something out of it. You know you are in trouble when at the midway point a character actually says "It's going so well now, the only way forward is down". BAAAAH. Some fun if you are interested in seeing what life in 1930's Berlin was like sort of.

  • Dec 23, 2011

    There they are - performing a sad song on sad occasion. The Comedian Harmonists giving their last concert - they're banned in Hitler's Germany because of anti-semitic reasons and still "the show must go on" and the audience cheers. Comedian Harmonists is another nice showcase of how Germany managed to dispel a substantial part of their artists and geniuses of the roaring 20s that made Berlin the city to be which ultimately led to cultural curiosity of the whole country. It's about the mother of all comedy a cappella groups - the eponymous Comedian Harmonists - and their songs. I must admit I didn't know much about them before the film - but where I come from their songs (or better their versions of these classic German folk song) are very well-known by the public. It starts off like a comedy musical and introduces the audience to a cast of great actors led by Ulrich Noelthen who plays a character a bit similar to Roberto Benigni's in Life is Beautiful and his counterpart Ben Becker who is just awesome. Beside the music the development of the other subplots is a bit rough and slow - There are some romances and a love triangle that almost splits the group and the one ever growing problem that ultimately leads to the group's downfall - the anti-semitism (three in the group are jews) that comes with the takeover of the Nazis. This theme which is arguably the main theme of the film doesn't become important until the second half of the film - and it's the more serious part of the film that appealed even more to me. Such a nice mix of music, comedy and drama is always appreciated by me and I connive the narrative flaws and the shaky structure for good after I've seen this last concert.

    There they are - performing a sad song on sad occasion. The Comedian Harmonists giving their last concert - they're banned in Hitler's Germany because of anti-semitic reasons and still "the show must go on" and the audience cheers. Comedian Harmonists is another nice showcase of how Germany managed to dispel a substantial part of their artists and geniuses of the roaring 20s that made Berlin the city to be which ultimately led to cultural curiosity of the whole country. It's about the mother of all comedy a cappella groups - the eponymous Comedian Harmonists - and their songs. I must admit I didn't know much about them before the film - but where I come from their songs (or better their versions of these classic German folk song) are very well-known by the public. It starts off like a comedy musical and introduces the audience to a cast of great actors led by Ulrich Noelthen who plays a character a bit similar to Roberto Benigni's in Life is Beautiful and his counterpart Ben Becker who is just awesome. Beside the music the development of the other subplots is a bit rough and slow - There are some romances and a love triangle that almost splits the group and the one ever growing problem that ultimately leads to the group's downfall - the anti-semitism (three in the group are jews) that comes with the takeover of the Nazis. This theme which is arguably the main theme of the film doesn't become important until the second half of the film - and it's the more serious part of the film that appealed even more to me. Such a nice mix of music, comedy and drama is always appreciated by me and I connive the narrative flaws and the shaky structure for good after I've seen this last concert.

  • Feb 15, 2010

    Comedian Harmonists tells the story of a famous, German male sextet, five vocals & piano, the "Comedian Harmonists", from the day they meet first in 1927 to the day in 1934, when they become banned by the upcoming Nazis, because three of them are Jewish. Harry Frommermann is a poor, but talented musician writing his own pieces & dreaming of the big success. When he goes to the store nearby & listens to new records he is so deeply fascinated by the tunes that he doesn't even realize that Erna, the young employee, adores him. When the day comes where he can barely afford the food for his parrot, it is time to do something about his situation. He launches a newspaper ad looking for company to found a singing group. He gets to know Robert Biberti & both seem to be on the same level. Soon four other fellows are found. A concept evolves & rehearsal begins. Yes another Hitler movie. But this one is different it's a musical in the great musical art deco age of the 1920 & this movie ends with the persecuted Jews escaping to other countries. The film is big, enjoyable musical biopic of the kind Hollywood used to produce in the '50s. The plot is conventional but high with its production values. The basic story has all the ingredients of a good commercial story: Berlin in its wild, decadent heyday; marital & sexual tensions within the group; a trip Stateside at a crucial point in their career. Add to this a top-drawer cast & you have a very fine enjoyable movie. Some critics panned this movie. I don't know why. It almost seems we saw different films. Six main actors, who bear more than a passing resemblance to the real characters, blend excellently & look comfortable in period costumes & mannerisms: Noethen is very good as Frommermann, torn between love of his homeland & the compromises that keep him there; Becker excellent as the brash, blond Biberti, who sticks by Frommermann to the end (this is probably Becker's defining film role; he is fantastic) ; Wiesinger smooth in a tailor-made role as the arranger; & Heinrich Schafmeister quietly impressive Collin, in many ways the rock of the group. Musical staging, which use digitally re-mastered recordings by the actual group, range from the intimate to large-scale, & are briskly staged & cut. The results are excellent. An epilogue reveals what happened to all the Harmonists. One moved to California & eventually became the oldest active cantor in America. Others had a good life also. 5 stars. (addendum I watched this first half of this film with French language. Be sure and switch to German the language it was filmed in. The french dubs were not well syncopated)

    Comedian Harmonists tells the story of a famous, German male sextet, five vocals & piano, the "Comedian Harmonists", from the day they meet first in 1927 to the day in 1934, when they become banned by the upcoming Nazis, because three of them are Jewish. Harry Frommermann is a poor, but talented musician writing his own pieces & dreaming of the big success. When he goes to the store nearby & listens to new records he is so deeply fascinated by the tunes that he doesn't even realize that Erna, the young employee, adores him. When the day comes where he can barely afford the food for his parrot, it is time to do something about his situation. He launches a newspaper ad looking for company to found a singing group. He gets to know Robert Biberti & both seem to be on the same level. Soon four other fellows are found. A concept evolves & rehearsal begins. Yes another Hitler movie. But this one is different it's a musical in the great musical art deco age of the 1920 & this movie ends with the persecuted Jews escaping to other countries. The film is big, enjoyable musical biopic of the kind Hollywood used to produce in the '50s. The plot is conventional but high with its production values. The basic story has all the ingredients of a good commercial story: Berlin in its wild, decadent heyday; marital & sexual tensions within the group; a trip Stateside at a crucial point in their career. Add to this a top-drawer cast & you have a very fine enjoyable movie. Some critics panned this movie. I don't know why. It almost seems we saw different films. Six main actors, who bear more than a passing resemblance to the real characters, blend excellently & look comfortable in period costumes & mannerisms: Noethen is very good as Frommermann, torn between love of his homeland & the compromises that keep him there; Becker excellent as the brash, blond Biberti, who sticks by Frommermann to the end (this is probably Becker's defining film role; he is fantastic) ; Wiesinger smooth in a tailor-made role as the arranger; & Heinrich Schafmeister quietly impressive Collin, in many ways the rock of the group. Musical staging, which use digitally re-mastered recordings by the actual group, range from the intimate to large-scale, & are briskly staged & cut. The results are excellent. An epilogue reveals what happened to all the Harmonists. One moved to California & eventually became the oldest active cantor in America. Others had a good life also. 5 stars. (addendum I watched this first half of this film with French language. Be sure and switch to German the language it was filmed in. The french dubs were not well syncopated)

  • Feb 15, 2010

    Comedian Harmonists tells the story of a famous, German male sextet, five vocals & piano, the "Comedian Harmonists", from the day they meet first in 1927 to the day in 1934, when they become banned by the upcoming Nazis, because three of them are Jewish. Harry Frommermann is a poor, but talented musician writing his own pieces & dreaming of the big success. When he goes to the store nearby & listens to new records he is so deeply fascinated by the tunes that he doesn't even realize that Erna, the young employee, adores him. When the day comes where he can barely afford the food for his parrot, it is time to do something about his situation. He launches a newspaper ad looking for company to found a singing group. He gets to know Robert Biberti & both seem to be on the same level. Soon four other fellows are found. A concept evolves & rehearsal begins. Yes another Hitler movie. But this one is different it’s a musical in the great musical art deco age of the 1920 & this movie ends with the persecuted Jews escaping to other countries. The film is big, enjoyable musical biopic of the kind Hollywood used to produce in the '50s. The plot is conventional but high with its production values. The basic story has all the ingredients of a good commercial story: Berlin in its wild, decadent heyday; marital & sexual tensions within the group; a trip Stateside at a crucial point in their career. Add to this a top-drawer cast & you have a very fine enjoyable movie. Some critics panned this movie. I don’t know why. It almost seems we saw different films. Six main actors, who bear more than a passing resemblance to the real characters, blend excellently & look comfortable in period costumes & mannerisms: Noethen is very good as Frommermann, torn between love of his homeland & the compromises that keep him there; Becker excellent as the brash, blond Biberti, who sticks by Frommermann to the end (this is probably Becker's defining film role; he is fantastic) ; Wiesinger smooth in a tailor-made role as the arranger; & Heinrich Schafmeister quietly impressive Collin, in many ways the rock of the group. Musical staging, which use digitally re-mastered recordings by the actual group, range from the intimate to large-scale, & are briskly staged & cut. The results are excellent. An epilogue reveals what happened to all the Harmonists. One moved to California & eventually became the oldest active cantor in America. Others had a good life also. 5 stars. (addendum I watched this first half of this film with French language. Be sure and switch to German the language it was filmed in. The french dubs were not well syncopated)

    Comedian Harmonists tells the story of a famous, German male sextet, five vocals & piano, the "Comedian Harmonists", from the day they meet first in 1927 to the day in 1934, when they become banned by the upcoming Nazis, because three of them are Jewish. Harry Frommermann is a poor, but talented musician writing his own pieces & dreaming of the big success. When he goes to the store nearby & listens to new records he is so deeply fascinated by the tunes that he doesn't even realize that Erna, the young employee, adores him. When the day comes where he can barely afford the food for his parrot, it is time to do something about his situation. He launches a newspaper ad looking for company to found a singing group. He gets to know Robert Biberti & both seem to be on the same level. Soon four other fellows are found. A concept evolves & rehearsal begins. Yes another Hitler movie. But this one is different it’s a musical in the great musical art deco age of the 1920 & this movie ends with the persecuted Jews escaping to other countries. The film is big, enjoyable musical biopic of the kind Hollywood used to produce in the '50s. The plot is conventional but high with its production values. The basic story has all the ingredients of a good commercial story: Berlin in its wild, decadent heyday; marital & sexual tensions within the group; a trip Stateside at a crucial point in their career. Add to this a top-drawer cast & you have a very fine enjoyable movie. Some critics panned this movie. I don’t know why. It almost seems we saw different films. Six main actors, who bear more than a passing resemblance to the real characters, blend excellently & look comfortable in period costumes & mannerisms: Noethen is very good as Frommermann, torn between love of his homeland & the compromises that keep him there; Becker excellent as the brash, blond Biberti, who sticks by Frommermann to the end (this is probably Becker's defining film role; he is fantastic) ; Wiesinger smooth in a tailor-made role as the arranger; & Heinrich Schafmeister quietly impressive Collin, in many ways the rock of the group. Musical staging, which use digitally re-mastered recordings by the actual group, range from the intimate to large-scale, & are briskly staged & cut. The results are excellent. An epilogue reveals what happened to all the Harmonists. One moved to California & eventually became the oldest active cantor in America. Others had a good life also. 5 stars. (addendum I watched this first half of this film with French language. Be sure and switch to German the language it was filmed in. The french dubs were not well syncopated)

  • Oct 14, 2009

    Well written and acted and involving just the right amount of musical numbers, "Comedian Harmonists" paints a picture of both the fabulous rise of that group and the conflicted, shockingly idiotic anti-Semitism of the Nazi regime.

    Well written and acted and involving just the right amount of musical numbers, "Comedian Harmonists" paints a picture of both the fabulous rise of that group and the conflicted, shockingly idiotic anti-Semitism of the Nazi regime.

  • Aug 28, 2009

    This is a great foreign film about a German group know as The Comedian Harmonists and their rise to fame and fall due to the Nazi Party. I enjoyed the acting and enoyed the music even more. If you are not particularly happy about the acting in this movie just enjoy the great music. Heino Ferch and Ulrich Noethen give great performances. At some parts the acting isnt really convincing but just enjoy the terrific music.

    This is a great foreign film about a German group know as The Comedian Harmonists and their rise to fame and fall due to the Nazi Party. I enjoyed the acting and enoyed the music even more. If you are not particularly happy about the acting in this movie just enjoy the great music. Heino Ferch and Ulrich Noethen give great performances. At some parts the acting isnt really convincing but just enjoy the terrific music.

  • Jun 22, 2009

    An excellent and little known German film with a great story that is less about the Nazi regime and more about friendship under fire. Has the appropriate amount of awesome art deco and singing for any movie about the late 30s. Haha.

    An excellent and little known German film with a great story that is less about the Nazi regime and more about friendship under fire. Has the appropriate amount of awesome art deco and singing for any movie about the late 30s. Haha.

  • May 28, 2009

    Wonderful movie about "Germany's first boy band". One of the most entertaining films about the WWII era. Love the songs and all the actors in it.

    Wonderful movie about "Germany's first boy band". One of the most entertaining films about the WWII era. Love the songs and all the actors in it.

  • Apr 23, 2009

    It's films such as this that make one wonder what other unknown masterpieces exist. Absolutely brilliant in every regard, The Harmonists is a stunning achievement. The film vividly renders its period setting, its casting is dead perfect, the performances are startlingly controlled, and the fact-based story touches and thrills without manipulation. Then there's the music: When was the last time an a cappella novelty song sung in German stuck in a viewer's head for three days? Ulrich Noethen is amazing as the poverty-stricken dreamer who puts together a vocal ensemble with a gimmick -- not only do the five singers perform without instrumentation (save for a bit of piano), but they take solos by mimicking wind instruments. It's a charming effect that summarizes the magic of the film overall. The Comedian Harmonists (as they are known to all of Europe) rise to the heights of fame, living in luxury when before they couldn't afford bread. In the last reel, when the Nazis begin to assert their nasty selves, the movie becomes a fragile study of character as the band members' friendship is tested to the straining point. There is heartbreak, but director Joseph Vilsmaier doesn't let the tragedy overwhelm the good spirits that have come before it. It's an amazing piece of work that won a shelf full of trophies overseas, but the film never got a chance in the States, playing on a handful of screens in painfully few cities.

    It's films such as this that make one wonder what other unknown masterpieces exist. Absolutely brilliant in every regard, The Harmonists is a stunning achievement. The film vividly renders its period setting, its casting is dead perfect, the performances are startlingly controlled, and the fact-based story touches and thrills without manipulation. Then there's the music: When was the last time an a cappella novelty song sung in German stuck in a viewer's head for three days? Ulrich Noethen is amazing as the poverty-stricken dreamer who puts together a vocal ensemble with a gimmick -- not only do the five singers perform without instrumentation (save for a bit of piano), but they take solos by mimicking wind instruments. It's a charming effect that summarizes the magic of the film overall. The Comedian Harmonists (as they are known to all of Europe) rise to the heights of fame, living in luxury when before they couldn't afford bread. In the last reel, when the Nazis begin to assert their nasty selves, the movie becomes a fragile study of character as the band members' friendship is tested to the straining point. There is heartbreak, but director Joseph Vilsmaier doesn't let the tragedy overwhelm the good spirits that have come before it. It's an amazing piece of work that won a shelf full of trophies overseas, but the film never got a chance in the States, playing on a handful of screens in painfully few cities.

  • Mar 11, 2009

    true story. in german. incredible music. amazing acting... love. another reviewer points out: "takes an overdone topic to a fresh place." agreed.

    true story. in german. incredible music. amazing acting... love. another reviewer points out: "takes an overdone topic to a fresh place." agreed.