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Directed by Arnaud des Pallieres

France 2013 122 mins. In French

Arnaud de Pallières’s adaptation of Heinrich von Kleist’s 1808 novella, a classic of German Romanticism, explores a fault line between declining feudalism and modernity. In 16th-century France, enterprising horse farmer Michael Kohlhaas (Mads Mikkelsen) runs afoul of a venal baron, who attempts to shake down the farmer as he crosses the nobleman’s woods on the way to market. After events escalate, causing great harm to Kohlhaas’s horses, farmhands, and family, he raises an army and wages war against the baron, who soon sues for peace. But with the clergy and courts adjudicating, will Kohlhaas win the war and lose the peace? The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas was previously adapted for film in 1969 by Volker Schlöndorff and served as the inspiration for E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime.

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