Reviews of The Third Richard

New Zealand Herald - Saturday March 14th 2009


This terrific little documentary is, in essence, a home movie that disinters a significant unsung New Zealander. Richard Fuchs, the grandfather of Wellington writer-director-actor Danny Mulheron (the creator of television's Mr Gormsby), was a talented German-Jewish architect and a composer whose work went largely unheard because he was subjected to what Mulheron calls the "weird kind of flattery" of being banned by the Nazis. In February 1939, as the clouds of war gathered, he fled with his family, including daughter Soni, Danny's mother, to New Zealand.

As if the shock of coming from the sophisticated coffee-house culture of Karlsruhe in the 1930s to the "booming monotone" of life in Wellington were not enough, he endured the indignity of being classified an enemy alien in his adopted country - robbed of opportunity on suspicion of complicity with a regime he reviled. Coinciding with a Fuchs festival in Karlsruhe, Mulheron and his wife, producer Sara Stretton, travel to Germany with Soni and tell Richard's story. With generous lashings of his music - like his architecture, it's a heady blend of the romantic, the expressionist and the modernist that one musician calls a mixture of Strauss and Schoenberg - and the precise, unsentimental reminiscenses of Soni, it's a fascinating and often touching portrait of a slice of 20th-century history.

Peter Calder 


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