Mortiz meets up with Don Quixote.
After the death of his mother, 12-year-old Moritz Ahlfeld (Johann Hillmann) is distressed and depressed about life. At school he is bullied by some older kids, who in the opening scene make him give up his brand new white sneakers, and then throw them in the river. Moritz is unwilling to stand up for himself or fight back, so he has to walk home in his stocking feet. Luckily he has an older pair of black high top chucks at home. Moritz is staying alone with his aunt, as his father is off in Spain doing field work as a wind power engineer. He is very unhappy in his new situation, not having properly grieved for the loss of his mother. He compensates by behaving badly at home, doing things like blowing up a stuffed toy animal with a firecracker. Tired of his behavior, his aunt puts him on an airplane to Spain to spend some time with Michael, his father. At the airport, things go badly. His father has forgotten his arrival time and is not there to pick him up. Wandering around the terminal, Moritz runs into Vicky (Bibiana Ballbé), a nice woman who rescues him from a pushy salesman, makes friends with him, and buys him a soda at one of the concessions. Eventually she too must leave, but gives him her contact informaion on a business card just in case. Moritz continues to wait in the terminal which is nearly deserted now, but after being questioned by some guards, Moritz decides to leave and explore outside on his own. He still has his cell phone to be in contact with his father. Once outside he climbs a fence and heads out on one of the access roads. Finally he is able to make contact with his father, but while waiting to be picked up, he notices a hole in a nearby fence and decides to explore some more. He eventually enters a junkyard where he is pursued and cornered by a black labrador watchdog.
Moritz climbs a fence to escape from the airport.
Here is where Moritz meets Don Quixote, a man in full riding gear and singlet, riding a white horse, wearing a metal helmet, and sporting a lance. Is he deranged or truly a knight of old? Don Quixote has visions and sees the dog as a spiked beast with a long tail and yells at it. The dog runs to him and wrestles with his broken lance. Don Quixote eventually falls down off his white horse (Rocinante?) but that scares the dog away. The two meet and Moritz offers him his thanks and some water. A little later, Moritz hears his father calling for him from the highway while Don Quixote rides off into the sunset. At his apartment in town, Michael tries to interest his son in his current work designing and maintaining windmills. But when Moritz finds some pictures and memorabilia of his mom, all he wants to do is a make a pilgrimage to the beach to drop off into the ocean a letter he has written to her. When Michael refuses they quarrel, and Moritz decides run off on his own. He won’t answer his cell phone and hides under a bridge in the rain. Desperate to find Moritz, Michael heads off to the police station but they won’t help him until at least 24 hours have passed. Eventually Moritz finds the way back to the barn like dwelling where Don Quixote lives. He ends up spending the night there. In the morning he goes outside, leaving his cell phone on a table where Don Quixote finds it. Thinking that it is a possessed demonic device, Don Quixote slashes it in half with his sword. (There has to be some poetic justice in that.) But now Moritz is cut off from the outside world. He convinces Don Quixote to go with him on his quest to the ocean and later that morning they set off on their journey.
Moritz hands Don Quixote his lance after repairing it.
Back in town Michael has searched through Moritz’s things looking for a clue as to where he might be. He finds the card that Vicky gave Moritz and calls her. Although she is in the process of breaking up with her boyfriend, eventually she agrees to help him search for Moritz and the two go off in his car. This time at the police station they are able to get some assistance after Vicky makes a scene. On the road, Don Quixote and Moritz stop at a roadside cafe and get a free bag of food, as riding up to the counter in full battle regalia has its perks. As they rest and eat, Moritz shows him the mysteries of a cigarette lighter, and fixes his broken lance. Later they see a bunch of bicyclists training with a backup van which Don Quixote sees as a stage coach led by many horses carrying a kidnapped woman. Moritz tries to warn him off but he is unsuccessful as Don Quixote runs through the bicyclists and gets his sword caught in the door of the van. After the confrontation is over, Don Quixote shows him his cameo of Dulciana and explains the importance of acting in a gallant manner. Meanwhile Vicky and Michael are getting to know each other as they travel together searching for Moritz. Don Quixote and Moritz’s adventures continue in like manner, with Don Quixote teaching Moritz the important lessons that everything in life does matter, and that you must stand up for yourself and your beliefs. At the same time, Moritz begins to impart some of the ways of the modern world to Don Quixote. Michael and Vicky’s search continues for another day and a half, with one near miss as Moritz sees them but doesn't make contact. Eventually Moritz and his dad are reunited and Don Quixote is taken to a hospital by the authorities. This leads to some interesting twists and turns in the story especially involving Don Quixote, as the film concludes in a satisfying manner.
Moritz and Don Quixote go on a trek to the sea.
Don Quixote is a German made for television movie that was later released on DVD with subtitles in French. So far no attempt has been made to release to English speaking audiences which is too bad, since it has a universal appeal and an excellent script by Christian Zübert. The film uses a clever update of the traditional Don Quixote legend. Instead of attacking wooden windmills like he would have 400 years ago, you see Don Quixote in his opening scene attacking modern power generating windmills which he sees as huge monsters. And that is where the tie in with Moritz’s dad occurs: he is a maintenance engineer for a series of these windmills in Spain. When Don Quixote attacks, he thinks he is attacking monsters but in reality he is cutting off the power cords for the generated electricity. Moritz takes on the role of Sancho Panza, Don Quixote’s sidekick accompanying him on a quest and at the same time looking out for him, especially in the context of the modern world. Christoph Maria Herbst gives a great performance as Don Quixote, somehow surviving in the twenty-first century while living the life of a gallant if somewhat befuddled knight of old. Likewise Johann Hillmann is well cast in his role of the down and unmotivated twelve-year-old kid who through his interactions with Don Quixote learns about what is important in life and regains a positive attitude about living. The movie has good production values and crisp direction by Sibylle Tafel.
Don Quixote is amazed when Moritz shows him a mirror.
Moritz rolls up the letter he wants to send to his mother in a bottle.
Johann Hillmann in his role as Moritz, wears well worn black high top chucks throughout the bulk of the film. After his new white sneakers were taken from him by bullies in the first scene, he was lucky to have a pair of chucks to wear. They represent typical footwear for a twelve-year-old boy and make a great contrast of modern wear versus the armor and boots that Don Quixote wears. The best closeups occur on their quest to the ocean when Moritz is determined to drop off the letter he has written to his mother in a bottle.
Don Quixote counsels Moritz about following his dreams.
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