Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
Klaus Wildenhahn directed and co-wrote this biographical documentary on the German poet and former miner, Guenter Westerhoff. Historical and regional background is provided by old photographs of mines, illustrations of local customs and beliefs, and scenes that show the inner strength of the people in the Ruhr industrial valley who have weathered economic depressions and the rise and fall of the Nazis. This background is important to the poet Westerhoff because he was born (1923) and raised in this region, and worked in the mines early on to support himself. His prose and poetry, as well as his scripts for television and the cinema portray the life of the workers -- especially the miners -- with sympathy and compassion. He is shown doing what he loves most: reading poetry for his friends and performing on the bandoneon (an accordian-like "hand-organ" invented by Heinrich Band in the 19th century). This is the first in a trilogy by director Wildenhahn set in the North Rhine-Westphalia region in western Germany, the other two films are Bandoneon, a history and performance documentary on the instrument, and Walzer, a biographical sketch of the ballet choreographer Pina Bausch.