DAS WUNDER DES MALACHIAS (1961)
aka The Miracle of Father Malachia
Article 5423 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Bernhard Wicki
Featuring Horst Bollmann, Richard Munch, Christiane Nielsen
Country: West Germany
What it is: Be careful what you pray for.
When a nightclub/brothel proves to be an embarrassment to the church next door, a lowly monk prays for God to take the nightclub away. The nightclub vanishes and appears on an island in the North Sea. However, this miracle may prove to cause more problems than it solves…
I had to import a copy of this from Germany, so I’m not surprised my copy didn’t have English subtitles. Therefore, I made the decision to read a plot description of the movie beforehand to help me negotiate the story, though I’m still hesitant to make any real evaluation of the movie. I’m glad I did; the central miracle of the film (and the fantastic content of it as well) doesn’t manifest itself visually, so I would have been at a loss had it not been for the plot descriptions. Furthermore, the first two-thirds of the movie mainly expresses its story verbally. However, I could tell this much; it’s well acted and directed, fast paced, and is interesting to look at. I especially liked Horst Bollmann’s performance as Father Malachias, the innocent monk who sees his miracle take an ugly turn as both the former site of the nightclub (which has now become a commercially-exploited pilgrimage site) and the new site of the nightclub (which is expanded to include a casino and has become a big tourist attraction) become the antithesis of all he believes. The last third of the movie makes good use of visuals to finish the story, and the final scenes of the movie made it worth the struggle of watching the first two-thirds of the movie. IMDB classifies it as a comedy, but it’s more of a sad, very bitter satire about the modern world.