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    Hanni & Nanni by Christine Hartmann

    By Tanja Meding | February 12, 2011

    The late British children’s author Enid Blyton wrote over 600 children books and sold more than 600 million copies worldwide. Her many works included a series of books about twin sisters and their adventures at the girls boarding school St. Clares. Originally entitled The Twins At St. Clares (1941), the German version of the books about the O’Sullivan twins was called Hanni und Nanni and first published in 1960s. Since then, Hanni und Nanni have become true classics and, apart from Blyton’s six original books, the German edition has grown to 20 volumes as well as a 33-part audio book series.

    Following the successful Japanese TV animation series based on the books, German executive producers Hermann Florin and Emmo Lempert of newly established Feine Filme along with Nico Hofmann (an accomplished filmmaker in his own right) and his team at UFA Cinema decided that it was time to update the twins for today’s cinema audience.

    And so Hanna »Hann« Sullivan and Marianne »Nanni« Sullivan (in the original version, the twins were called Patricia »Pat« O’Sullivan and Isabel O’Sullivan) use computers, listen to their iPods and have cell phones. However, once they arrive at Lindenhof boarding school, all these digital gadgets are no longer needed because true values like honesty and loyalty are far more important here than designer clothes or digital paraphernalia.

    The producers are to be congratulated for picking a woman to direct this film. As Christine Hartmann recalls, she grew up with Hanni and Nanni and was fascinated by the twins’ adventures at Lindenhof. To her, the twins’ stories were exciting, witty, but also profound – as they conveyed true values such as friendship and individuality. Since Hartmann’s directorial debut in 2000 with the TV comedy Es geht nicht immer um Sex (Not Everything Revolves Around Sex, 2000), she has a long list of TV productions to her credit. Hanni & Nanni – which she also co-wrote with Kathrina Raschke and Jane Ainscough – is her first work for the cinema.

    Hartmann, in turn, has to be saluted for her casting choices. Katharina Thalbach (known from such films as The Tin Drum and Strike) is a joy to behold as the warm and slightly wacky French tutor and music teacher Mademoiselle Bertoux. Susanne von Borsody (Run Lola Run), on the contrary, is slightly scary as the strict and stern Ms. Mägerlein, while Hannelore Elsner (Nowhere To Go) plays the elegant, enigmatic and slightly esoteric headmistress Ms. Theobald.

    The strong cast is rounded off with Anja Kling ([T]raumschiff Surprise) and Heino Ferch (Vision) as the twins’ parents – and, of course, the  identical twins Sophia and Jana Münster.

    Filled to the brim with a fast moving soundtrack, Hanni & Nanni is a fun film for a young audience – primarily for girls and their mums – with the added bonus of an all-star ensemble. And as the film comes to a close, it seems to hint that one should stay tuned for the sequel, just like the books.

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