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Avner W. Less,
The story of the first cloned human being - told in her own words: At the age of thirty the world-famous composer Iris Sellin learns that she has an incurable illness. She - a person who wanted to live for ever - does however not give in. In order to preserve her art and also herself, beyond death, for all posterity, she has herself cloned. Her daughter Siri, whom, in this way, she turns into her virtual twin, learns as a child that she is the world's first cloned human being. In fact a blueprint: a blueprint of her mother. From that moment on nothing is as it was before... Written by
We are all created as the amalgamation of the traits of our parents. We are a product of them as soon as we are conceived and continue to be so as their will shapes our development until our own will begins to assert itself. This story has been told hundreds of times but what happens to the story if you are the product of only one parent? What if you are an identical clone of your mother who bore you and raised you to be a facsimile of herself?
This is the premise of 'Blueprint', the new German language film from Rolf Schübel starring Franka Potente (Anatomie, The Princess and the Warrior, Run Lola Run). Iris Sellin (Franka) is a world famous pianist who finds out she is suffering from multiple sclerosis, a degenerative nerve disorder that will gradually stop her being able to perform. She asks a friend, Dr. Martin Fisher (Ulrich Thomsen), a revolutionary reproductive researcher to assist her in creating her clone so that she can pass her music onto her daughter. Even though cloning of humans is illegal Dr. Fisher agrees so that he will forever be known as the first. The procedure is a success (and surprisingly simple; science isn't the focus of this story) and Iris gives birth to Siri ('Iris' spelt backwards). The rest of the story follows Siri's development from child to fully developed adult (also played by Franka), her burgeoning musical ability, and the eventual repercussions once she finds out she is her mother's clone.
As is common with 'life span' stories the telling of the story occurs when Siri is in her mid-twenties and flashbacks are used to show us key points in her life. Siri's current location is a rather secluded, German speaking (?) part of Northern Canada where she is hiding from civilization and spending her time photographing deer. This life is in direct contrast with the rather decadent, rigid life she led with her mother, nanny and the nanny's son in a castle-like compound in Germany. This contrast highlights the detachment she has created between her adult self and her, still alive yet increasingly frail, mother Iris. Siri also undergoes slight character development through interaction with an insistent stranger, Greg (Hilmir Snær Guðnason) which, along with a lot of serene thoughtful scenes of Siri staring at the beautifully shot wilderness, apparently leads to her reconciliation with her past.
The film was enjoyable and reasonably well made. The cinematography is beautiful at times and the use of key piano symphonies as recurring themes on the soundtrack works very well to create a sense of narrative progression and cohesion. Frank Potente is very solid and charismatic both as Siri and Iris although Iris' intense dedication to her music does create quite a one-dimensional character with whom it is hard to relate. Siri on the other hand is loveable and playful. Her character development as an adult seems to consist solely of a growing hatred of her mother for making her a clone when it would have been nice to see her develop into her own woman with her own dreams, desires, and skills. In the future scenes, photography seems to be her life but we get no development of this interest in the flashbacks.
The film spans about 25 years and as such a degree of technological progression and character ageing has to occur. As in the science of the cloning procedure, the technology is dealt with very slightly and only as a facilitator to the human drama at the forefront of the plot. This works well but the artificial aging of some of the characters works less well. Iris (Franka) ages quite comfortably and it is obvious that she has received most attention in this respect. Unfortunately, some of the supporting characters have only a scruffy grey wig, moustache, and cursory wrinkles to make them appear older. This lends a rather unfortunate comical edge to some of the later scenes.
Cloning is an interesting issue that raises lots of pressing questions. 'Blueprint' addresses a few of these questions but doesn't go too far out of the 'mother-daughter' mould. If it had concentrated more on Siri's attempts to define herself through her own will and break away from her mother's genes it might have been a stronger film. As it stands, it is an entertaining thought-provoking film that I hope will see a market outside of Germany.
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