The satirical cemetery motif provides a backdrop for a love story. The joint posthumous reconciliation project rejuvenates and eroticizes the couple: Thanatos stimulates Eros into action.
The film's underlying theme is history which happened and which is happening. The past is snapshots from the young days of the two characters. He was in Hitlerjugend and with his family was exiled from Gdańsk after World War II. She was a member of the Union of Socialist Youth, a Stalinist organization, and she too was exiled from her homeland, Lithuania - to Gdańsk, as it happens. The symmetrical lives of the two crisscross in present times, with the main plot of the film starting in 1989, the year of major breakthroughs in the history of Poland and Germany: the demise of communism in the former, the fall of the Berlin Wall in the latter.
But history is also the future. Globalization, exile, right to homeland are all current issues which make a subtle and often witty appearance against the backdrop of the love and death story, heralding the problems which the 21st century will be facing.
The toad's call, which is a warning, an omen, a harbinger of bad tidings in the German tradition, plays also another role in Grass's story. A toad is a clever animal which not only remembers history, that is things which happened in the past, but also takes a critical view of the present and looks anxiously into the future, seeing what others cannot. It talks about them, admonishes, warns and tells the fortune the way Cassandra did.
Günter Grass was born to a Kashubian mother and a German father. After World War II he settled in West Berlin. A sculptor by training - graduate of art schools in Dusseldorf and Berlin - he makes prints and designs covers for his books besides writing. Involved in Social-Democratic Party (SPD) election campaigns in the 1960s, he dissociated himself from that party after Willy Brandt stepped down as Chancellor, though has maintained an active involvement in German political life. For more than twenty years Grass was a member of the 47 literary group of West-German, Austrian and Swiss writers who were united by opposition to fascism and call for socially involved literature.
Grass earned fame in 1959 with the novel The Tin Drum, which came out in Poland, in a censored version, as late as in 1984. Gdańsk and Poland have occupied a special place in Grass's writing, his three famous novels, The Tin Drum, Cat and Mouse and Dog Years, forming the so-called 'Danzig Trilogy'. He is also known for From The Diary of a Snail, The Rat and The Call of the Toad / Unkenrufe, a sarcastic novel of Polish-German reconciliation. In 1995 he published the novel Too Far Afield. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999.
- Wróżby kumaka / The Call of the Toad, Poland - Germany, 2005. Written by Paweł Huelle, Cezary Harasimowicz, Klaus Richter; directed by Robert Gliński; photography: Jacek Petrycki; art director: Robert Czesak, Jochen Schumacher. Starring Krystyna Janda (Aleksandra Piątkowska), Matthias Habich (Aleksander Reschke), Zbigniew Zamachowski (Priest), Krzysztof Globisz, Katrin Sass, Marek Kondrat, Grzegorz Wolf (Adolf Hitler), Dorothea Walda (Erna the Kashubian). Producers: Henryk Romanowski, Regina Ziegler. Produced by Filmcontract Ltd., Regina Ziegler Filmproduktion (West Berlin). Released in September 2005.
Prepared on the basis of press materials, September 2005