August 2012: Du Bist Nicht Allein: Die Roy Black Story
Du bist nicht Allein: Die Roy Black Story gets ignored a lot by fans of Christoph Waltz, due to his hair and skin in the film. This is a real pity. Die Roy Black Story is, from an acting point of view, one of Mr. Waltz’s best performances, and a very accessible film for non-German speakers to follow. It was the second of many collaborations between Peter Keglevic as director and Christoph Waltz as lead actor. Mr. Keglevic and Mr. Waltz turned out some very high quality films and Die Roy Black Story is one of them. Mr. Waltz even won several awards for his performance, as did Mr. Keglevic for his direction.
The story starts out early in Roy Black’s career. He fancies himself a rock star and is doing Beatles covers in a night club with his band. He is approached by an agent and offered a contract, but not to sing rock as he wanted to, but to become a “Schlagersinger” – an easy listening artist in the same category as Barry Manilow and Cliff Richard (to English speakers). There is an amusing section of the film where Christoph actually parody-sings the song “Ganz im Weiss” in the style of opera. (Indeed, Mr. Waltz can be heard singing throughout the film.) Fame and fortune quickly follow Roy, but so does the trappings of fame: drugs, sex, and alcohol in the 1960s and 70s see him ruin his chances for a more lucrative contract with EMI and start his descent into a hell of his own making, becoming addicted, and losing his family, as his popularity wanes. It eventually land him in hospital needing an emergency operation. The film ends at Roy’s triumphant return to the stage.
While the story is not complicated, the performance is fantastic. Christoph brings a humanity and aching quality to Roy Black. He embodies towards the end the very essence of destroyed. In one poignant shot, a sweaty, addled Roy looks at a TV of himself singing a Christmas tune many years prior, at the peak of his fame, and it is acutely apparent how far he had fallen away from the wholesome boy who just wanted to be a rock star. It was a meaty role, and Christoph grabbed onto it with both hands and made it his own, despite the dyed-black hair and pale skin which were accurate for the character.
It is a fine film, one that should not be overlooked in the top of Mr. Waltz’s resume due to cosmetic reasons. Sure, the songs are cheesy, but it’s worth hearing Waltz sing some Beatles and Rolling Stones, and seeing him dance.
Besides, any film that spawns enough .gif images to keep Tumblr in amusing responses for years can’t be that bad.