The last original Netflix movie outside of Germany, blood and goldNow it’s streaming, but should I give it a watch?
To my delight, the western film genre has persisted into the 21st century. From the works of some of the greatest American authors (Tarantino’s django unchained & hateful eightcoen brothers No country for old men) to the vast collection of Taylor Sheridan’s universe (Against all odds, river of wind), the themes and pacing of Western cinema still seem to resonate with audiences well past their mid-20th century prime.
For its part, Netflix also seems to revel in this notion. The streamer has produced several Western-style movies in recent years to much critical acclaim, including Oscar nominations. the power of the dog & The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, plus star-studded features like The harder they fall & concrete cowboy.
With his latest entry in the genre blood and goldNetflix transfers the setting of the American Old West to Germany in the final moments of World War II.
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During the spring of 1945, the story centers on German defector Heinrich (Robert Maaser), a brave young farm girl Elsa (Marie Hacke), and a host of Nazis. On his way home from the front to his daughter, Heinrich stumbles into the claws of a prowling SS troop. His leader (Alexander Scheer) leaves him hanging from a tree for his desertion only to be discovered and saved at the last minute by Elsa, who hides him on her farm. Meanwhile, the SS are searching for a hidden Jewish treasure in a nearby town, meeting bitter resistance from fed-up villagers who want to keep the treasure for themselves. Soon, Heinrich and Elsa find themselves dragged against their will into an action-packed hunt for gold, culminating in a bloody showdown at the village church.
Directed by Peter Thorwarth (Netflix’s blood red sky), blood and gold continues the success of Netflix’s modern western takes while clearly displaying its influences from the meatier versions of 21st century movies in the genre.
The film maintains the quintessential elements of classic Western style – White Hat/Black Hat dynamics, small town showdowns, buried gold, methodical pacing, distinctive scores – and presents them with a modern ultraviolent style typically reserved for Tarantino and his growing list. of Disciples If you love killing Nazis in the gritty, pulpy action style of Inglorious Basterds & Overlord, then this is your kind of movie. Spoiler alert: it’s mine too.
Like westerns of the past, this film’s key differentiator from its contemporaries is its strong performances that support well-defined and entertaining characters.
While the film revolves around Heinrich’s story arc (remarkably consistently executed by Robert Maaser), its rich mix of supporting characters makes for a deeper and more satisfying film. Marie Hacke’s Elsa, Jordis Triebel’s Sonja and Alexander Scheer’s Lieutenant Colonel von Starnfeld elevate the less demanding revenge plot and engage us with the charm and strength their audiences deserve without leaning into cartoonish absurdity. Alexander Scheer knows all about that absurdity with his performance of Eight Ball in Blood Red Sky.
In general, blood and gold is an impressive and enjoyable addition to the growing list of variations on the classic western. Bloody, but not grotesque. Methodical, but never boring. This is my favorite Netflix movie of 2023 so far and I hope it has enough mass appeal to reach American audiences.
Look blood and gold on Netflix if you like:
- blood red sky
- Inglorious Bastards
MVP of blood and gold
MARIE HACKE as ELSA
Although Heinrich’s revenge and reunification arc may steal the spotlight, it’s the young farm boy and devoted sister Elsa that make this movie work. With a delightful combination of courage, patience, and kindness, Marie Hacke gets Elsa off the farm and into the fight with relative ease and believability. While we never see what Heinrich has suffered, we do get a front row seat to Elsa’s tragic losses. Hacke shows her range as she bounces between intense drama and impressive action scenes without an ounce of inconsistency.
PLAY, PAUSE OR STOP?
Don’t mistake its simple and direct storytelling as a detriment. Blood & Gold updates the classic spaghetti western with compelling characters, jaw-dropping action sequences, immersive music, and *cue Brad Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raine* killing Nazis!