Via Mala (1985)

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Original title Via Mala
Country of production Federal Republic of Germany , Switzerland , France , Italy , Austria
original language German
Publishing year 1985
length 273 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Tom Toelle
script Jörg Graser
production Kurt J. Mrkwicka ,
Thomas Schühly
music Ennio Morricone
camera Igor Luther
cut Marie Homolkova

Via Mala is a television film that was broadcast in three parts. The first broadcast on ZDF took place on September 1 to 3, 1985 and achieved the highest audience rating to date (50%) of a production for ZDF.


The film is based on the novel of the same name by John Knittel from 1934. The family tragedy takes place in the Graubünden Alps on Via Mala in Switzerland at the end of the 1920s. The family suffers from the tyrannical and drinkable father Jonas Lauretz, who beats the children, abuses his wife and assaults the eldest daughter. He crippled his son Niklaus. The children decide to take revenge on their father. After the murder, in which the youngest daughter Silvie was not involved, the investigations by the coroner and lover of Silvie lead the family into ever greater conflicts, in which not only the family but also Silvie's relationship perishes.


Was shot u. a. from July to October 1983 in the Gastern Valley in the Bernese Oberland . The house and the mill were built in the lower part of the valley close to the Balmhornbach Waterfall, the scenes in the "Via Mala" were at the bridge in the narrow Klus between the valley and the town of Kandersteg rotated.

The settings in the dining room in which Jonas Lauretz attacks the landlord (and in which the lawyer and lover of the daughter, Andreas von Richenau, later inquires about his whereabouts), were recorded in 1983 in the Valais community of Turtmann in the so-called Wäbihaus. The church in which the father rioted and in which the funeral procession for the deceased painter later takes place is a small pilgrimage chapel in the Lötschental community of Kühmad-Blatten . Both locations were extensively renovated after the shooting and are therefore no longer in the condition shown in the film.

During the filming in Switzerland there were disagreements between the production company Iduna-Film (a company owned by Leo Kirch ) and the director Tom Toelle . After only about a third of the entire film had been shot in October 1983, the production company MR-Film was commissioned by Leo Kirch to oversee the rest of the production. The head of MR-Film, Kurt J. Mrkwicka, then decided to break off the seasonally paused filming in Switzerland and to continue it in Sportgastein the following April . The scenes with the hospice and the house and studio of the painter Lauters were filmed in the miners' houses above the Naßfeld , which were already empty at the time . The shot in which Silvie Lauretz bathes naked and is discovered by the painter Lauters was recorded in the Nassfelder Ache. The railway that can be seen in parts 1 and 2 is the Murtalbahn and the Predlitz-Ladin railway station, which was demolished in 1993 . The tragic final scene takes place on the so-called Russenbrücke over the Naßfelder Ache.

Further scenes were filmed in the Valais communities of Leuk and Susten VS and in Bad Gastein . Overall, the production impresses with a very elaborate level of detail (e.g. fully functional sawmill, interior fittings of the rooms, costumes of the actors and uniforms of the soldiers, which, apart from the missing shoulder pieces, correspond to the period around 1929). The veteran vehicles used also correspond to their era and have Swiss registration plates, albeit from different cantons. This suggests that these vehicles were on loan from private individuals.

Due to the international cast, the original dialogues were recorded in English during filming (by the way, John Knittel had also written the novel in English), but then dubbed and dubbed in German for ZDF , with the German-speaking actors synchronizing themselves. A version with the original English sound does not exist, because everything is so loud because of the sometimes very loud background noises (the Kander is at the point in the Chlus, where the day laborer's hut was during the filming, that you can hardly understand your own word) had to be dubbed.

The production costs for a television production amounted to an enormous 16 million DM at the time.


After the death of the painter Lauters, Silvie Lauretz inherits his house, the paintings and a savings book of 5000 Swiss Francs. After the executor Dr. Arenberg has opened the inheritance to the family, he asks the father how old the daughter Silvie is. He replies, not yet 21 years old, the brother adds, but in 5 weeks. Silvie could not yet take over the inheritance, which was probably due to the dramaturgy. Indeed, the age of majority in Switzerland occurred on January 1, 1912 ( entry into force of the Civil Code ) at the age of 20. Coincidence would have it that the actress in Silvie Maruschka Detmers was actually as old as her film character when this scene was shot.


"Carefully equipped and well-played Heimatfilm of epic proportions, which is heading for the tragic end from the start."

"Thanks to Luther's well-mannered pictures, his Loden Frey chic, the trivial piece has now degenerated into a tough three-part television series without exciting dramaturgy, let alone drama: A compromise between Knittel's naturalistically trimmed romanticism and the prudish production habits of European television stations."

"Sparse dialogues and impressive images."


The film was released on two DVDs by Kinowelt in January 2010 (273 minutes, image format 1.33: 1, sound format Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono German). There is also a new release in 2017 on two DVDs of TV jewels with additional memories of the production by Jörg Graser, Mario Adorf and Sissy Höfferer (each around 30 minutes).


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Interview with Mario Adorf in “Memories of Via Mala” on the DVD of Fernsehjuwelen.
  2. History of the Wäbihaus in Turtmann , accessed on September 29, 2018
  3. Interview with Kurt J. Mrkwicka , accessed on September 29, 2018
  4. Via Mala (1983-1985). In: Lexicon of International Films . Film Service , accessed August 9, 2011 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  5. Nothing to saw . In: Der Spiegel 35/1985 , August 26, 1985, accessed on August 9, 2011.
  6. Via Mala (1). TV SPIELFILM Verlag, accessed on August 9, 2011 .