No Magic against Love, or Dark Seduction Redirected: Perspectives on the Fantasy Film Krabat

  • Author(s): Almut-Barbara Renger
  • When: 2013-04
  • Where: Journal of Religion and Popular Culture
  • By drawing on material from popular legend and children’s literature, Marco Kreuzpaintner’s film Krabat presents a series of conventional leitmotifs—seduction by dark powers, a pact with the devil and ultimate redemption through love—to explore the tensions implicit in master-disciple relationships common to religious formulations. In depicting how a young boy was compelled to enter under a demonic master’s protection, Krabat exploits the complex intersection of the fantastic genre, magical lore and structures of discipleship. The film is about growing up, about friendship and death, group dynamics, seduction “to the dark side,” and finally, in terms of a positive message, about love which is capable of overcoming everything. Even though the film has no theological intention in the strict sense of the word, Christian values are conveyed by way of narrative elements that have been absorbed and transformed over the course of the reception history devoted to the Krabat material. In addition to marking the shifts between the genre of the literary fantastic and cinematic fantasy, this paper investigates Krabat’s rich intertextuality and demonstrates how its examination may contribute to understanding the provocative interface between literary, cultural and religious studies.

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