Thomas Mann's sprawling German novel Buddenbrooks could hardly be confined to a "conventional" film length, thus it's no surprise that this 1959 movie version was released in two lengthy parts. Put simply, Buddenbrooks is the story of the decline and fall of a once prestigious European family. Anxious to preserve their rapidly diminishing wealth, the Buddenbrook clan undergoes several marriages of convenience -- which serve only to weaken the strain until, as the 20th century dawns, only two members of the family are left. Among the many international luminaries playing the various Buddenbrook progeny are Lilo Pulver, Nadja Tiller, Hansjörg Felmy, Hanns Lothar, Lil Dagover, and Werner Hinz. When released in the U.S. in 1962, the film was trimmed from 219 to 199 minutes; a 1964 reissue combined both parts and truncated the film's length even farther. Two years later, a BBC television production of Buddenbrooks was offered in a multi-part version à la The Forsyte Saga.
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