Before he achieved international fame as the director of such films as DAS BOOT, IN THE LINE OF FIRE and TROY, Wolfgang Peterson worked heavily throughout the seventies in German television productions. One of the most notable shows he worked on was the popular and long running series, TATORT and undoubtedly the most famous episode he ever directed from it was REIFEZEUGNIS.
REIFEZEUGNIS, which I will be referring to in it's international title FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY, is an episode that was highly anticipated by German television viewers when it premiered in 1977. Outside of the fact that the series TATORT was so popular, viewers were especially keen to see what Klaus Kinski's daughter Nastassja could bring to the tragic role of the 16 year old Sina Wolf.
Nastassja's third feature is one of the least successful of her early films, a mostly bland and very predictable television film that eventually did make it to the theaters in 1983, well after Nastassja had become an international star.
Wolfgang Peterson brings little of his later flair to the direction of this rather flat and predictable film that falls into pretty much every tv movie trapping possible. Co-written with Herbert Lichtenfeld, whom had previously written several TATORT episodes, Peterson's script is FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY'S biggest downfall. It is a very tired and meandering story that has been told much better many times before. Focusing on a young teenagers destructive and secret romance with her teacher that leads to a murder and then boring criminal investigation, FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY is really only notable in that it gives Nastassja her first leading role.
Working with popular German actors Klaus Schwarzkopf, Judy Winter and Christian Quadflieg, Nastassja is easily the best part of FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY and manages to inject what could have been a by the numbers role with a real sense of longing, confusion and finally humanity.
One of the biggest problems with FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY is just how uninvolved the filmmakers are with their material. Peterson's flat direction really lets his actors down and it is to all of the leads credit that the film has any life at all.
The directors of photography were mostly just involved in these German television productions and it shows as the look of the film is mostly un-dynamic and as lifeless as Peterson's stilted direction.
I don't mean to be too hard on FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY, as a typical tv film from the seventies it is perfectly acceptable. It is very much a product of its time and medium and it doesn't attempt to break out of either. I should point out also that I have only seen the older 93 minute VHS of this film. IMDB reports that there is a 108 minute version although I frankly can't imagine what that extra 15 minutes could bring to it outside of making it longer and possibly giving Nastassja more screen time. Who knows, perhaps my view of the film would change with a sharper picture and more footage, but I kind of doubt it.
As I said before, Nastassja is the best part of the film. She is totally believable in the role of the young Sina who is having an affair with her married professor and accidentally kills her ex-boyfriend when he finds out about it. The 16 (or 17) year old Kinski is stunningly beautiful here even though the lifeless direction and look of the film don't even attempt to compliment her. Perhaps the most important thing about FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY is that it showed that Kinski could shine no matter if she was working with poor material and uninterested filmmakers. It is unfortunately something that she has had to do at various points throughout her career, specifically in the last ten years.
Highlights of the film, outside of Nastassja's performance, include very sympathetic turns by Winter and Quadflieg as a married couple whose relationship is rapidly deteriorating due to the husband's inability to control himself. Also worth noting is an above average score, for a tv film, by Nils Sustrate and a pretty effective final act that manages to stay within the tv movie genre and yet still slightly seems to elevate it.
Nastassja is especially effective in her final few scenes when a combination of guilt, fear and abandonment causes her to have a near complete breakdown . Her final shot in the film, sitting next to a lake with her clothes soaked after failing to drown herself, is undeniably effective and could have left little doubt to anyone watching that Klaus Kinski's daughter had most definitely inherited his considerable talents.
FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY was a popular film among German tv watchers in the seventies. It would have been the first time that many of them would have seen the young Kinski, and for that reason alone it is a valuable addition to her filmography.
I suspect that for a lot of German people that came of age with this film, FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY probably feels a bit like THE BOY IN THE PLASTIC BUBBLE does for me. Something that you saw when you were young that struck a major chord and introduced you to someone incredibly special. So for some it is probably a case where nostalgia buries the fact that this is little more than an average tv film from the seventies that just happens to star one of the great actors of the period. It is essential for fans of Nastassja but as a film it is of very little consequence