Black Tanner | Chicago Reader

Black Tanner

Based on a novel by Meinrad Inglin, a chronicler of Swiss village life, this 1985 feature by Xavier Koller documents a dairy farmer's stubborn resistance to a government decree at the outset of World War II. Worried about feeding the people, Swiss authorities order mountain farmers to clear their grassland for cultivation, but the proud Tanner (Otto Machtlinger, in a magnificently stoic performance) refuses to comply. His neighbors join him at first but are gradually worn down by legal threats, and eventually Tanner and his family are ridiculed for their lack of patriotism. Koller unfolds the story leisurely, meticulously detailing the joys and hardships of traditional farm life, but the film's plodding pace drags down any sense of drama. In German with subtitles. 106 min.

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