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Unterm Birnbaum (Under the Pear Tree)

1973, color, 86 min., Feature
Dir.: Ralf Kirsten
Script: Ralf Kirsten, Brigitte Kirsten
Camera: Wolfgang Braumann
Music: André Asriel
Cast: Angelica Domröse, Erik S. Klein, Agnes Kraus, Norbert Christian, Manfred Karge

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Synopsis:

Abel Hradscheck, the owner of an inn in the Oderbruch country, faces financial ruin. For this state of affairs, Ursula, his wife and former actress, is by no means free of blame. She is a "newcomer" to the area and even after eleven years in the area, still a "stranger". A Cracow company announces that a money-collector is on his way to the innkeeper. Mr. Szulski arrives and the debts are settled - with money supposedly stemming from an inheritance. The next day, Szulski departs but according to the maid and the stable-boy, behaves in a very strange manner. Soon afterwards, his carriage is discovered in the Oder River, but there is no trace of the drowned man. Hradscheck's neighbor starts casting suspicion on the innkeeper. The Counselor of Justice, who heads the investigations has the spot under the pear tree dug out. A dead body is exhumed - but it has been lying there for more than twenty years. The innkeeper now lulls himself into a false sense of security, but his wife is tormented by feelings of guilt. Finally, she wants to reveal everything to the local pastor. He, however, refuses to become privy to a gruesome crime. Ursula is broken by qualms of remorse. The body lies hidden in the cellar but Hradscheck wants to dump it where everyone suspects it to be: in the Oder River. But he stumbles and falls to his death down the cellar steps. His body is discovered next to that of his victim. Based on the novella of the same title by the great German realist Theodor Fontane.

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