Volker Schlondorff's Cinema: Adaptation, Politics, and the "Movie-Appropriate"

By Hans-Bernhard Moeller; George Lellis | Go to book overview

24
Voyager

I wanted to focus on my Teutonic inheritance, the 1950s, Existentialism, the question of guilt.

—Schlöndorff, “The Last Days of Max Frisch”

Almost immediately after the American release of The Handmaid's Tale, Schlöndorff began production of “Last Call for Passenger Faber, ” an adaptation of Max Frisch's 1957 novel Homo Faber. The project, which was finally released under the title Voyager in the United States and Homo Faber in Germany, was one that Schlöndorff thought about for a long time. Indeed Paramount offered him an opportunity to adapt the novel in 1978, but he turned down the project. On the one hand, he thought incest such a taboo that he doubted it could be presented on screen (Schlöndorff, “Wem wird man” 236; Traub 198; Wetzel). On the other hand, as a member of the German protest generation, the filmmaker had turned to political issues and solutions rather than to the existential questions of guilt and angst (Tobis, Press notes for Homo Faber [13]). Schlöndorff returned to the project after the film rights to the novel again became available in January 1988 (Schlöndorff, “Last Days” 1). The final film was not completed until the Spring of 1991.


Frisch's Homo Faber as Source Material

Voyager is thus another adaptation of a renowned literary classic, in this case one of the major German-language novels of the 1950s. Its title, Homo Faber, means “man, the maker, ” and it touched the existentialist nerve of that Central Europe of the post—World War II economic miracle in which the “doers” dominated. It linked itself to the romantic element in German cultural tradition that criticized, even despised technocracy as a social norm. At the same time, Homo

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