Elective Affinities (films)

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A screenshot of the Captain C explaining the "chemical affinities" to Edward B and Charlotte A, from the 1996 film remake.[1]

In films, Elective Affinities (films) (CR:5) (LH:#) (TL:#) refers to film, television, or streaming series remakes of Goethe's Elective Affinities (1809).


In 1974, Siegfried Kuhn did a 103-minute German film rendition of Elective Affinities.[2]

In 1982, Claude Chabrol, did a 118-minute France, West Germany television remake of Elective Affinities, directed by first broadcast: ARD, 4 April 1982, including Helmut Griem as Edward Otto, Stéphane Audran as Charlotte, Michael Degen as Captain Otto, Pascale Reynaud as Ottilie.[3]

Les Affinities Electives | 1996

In 1996, directors: Paolo Taviani and Vittorio Taviani, and producer: Jaen-Claude Volpi, made a French-Italian film adaptation entitled Les affinities electives (Elective Affinities), language: Italian, with English subtitles. A screenshot of this version is shown adjacent, showing the Captain, in the laboratory, explaining that how he, representing chemical species C, or sulfuric acid (H2SO4) below left, is now bonded in his new friendship reaction, with Edward, species B, as calcium (Ca), that now with Charlotte, species A, or carbon trioxide (CO3) left alone, she will thus ‘throw herself’ at Ottilie, species D, below right, when she arrives at the estate:

The notation employed here, in this film version, is basically a combination of the William Cullen (1757) reaction notation, Torbern Bergman (1775) reaction notation, and Goethe (1793) reaction notation, wherein the "under curve" symbol: Undercurve.png, seen in the film, is symbolic of Bergman's "down bracket" symbol: Down bracket.png, meaning that the products have precipitated in the solid state. When the Captain gives the famous "chapter four" laboratory description, the number of the chapter symbolic of what happens to "free will" and "choice" when "4" chemical species are thrown together, by the universe, amounts to the effect that in the earlier chapters, the Captain C arrived onto the estate, and drew Edward B, away from Charlotte A, thereby displacing her and leaving her alone or unbonded, as follows:

Subsequently, in the scene shown, the Captain explains that when Ottilie D arrives, Charlotte, as an unbonded species, will, by the nature of the forces of the chemical affinities, throw herself at Ottilie

Pornographia | 2003

In 2003, a film adaptation of Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz's 1950s novel Pornographia, which is said to be an attempted modern-day remake of Elective Affinities, utilizing chemical combination models as well as newer ideas such as Michael Faraday's 1830s lines of force models to explain lines of desire or passion, was made.

Afinidades | 2010

In 2010, Spanish director Vladimir Cruz produced the film Afinidades[4]; the film script, written by Cruz, is based on the novel Chamber Music (Musical de Camara) by Reinaldo Montero, and "inspired" by Goethe’s Elective Affinities or The Selective Affinities ("Las afinidades selectivas", as they call it in Cuba.

Dark (series) | 2017 to 2000

In 2017 to 2020, couple writer Jantje Friese and producer Baran Odar, made the Netflix series Dark, a three-season, German language series, themed with philosophical references to Goethe’s Elective Affinities, e.g. Charlotte[5], and Faust, e.g. the "Gretchen question"[6], and most-centrally to Schopenhauer's question of "will" in respect to freedom and determinism, which they wanted to put a "feeling" to, via each character, throughout the entire series, which is a "small world" model "based on determinism" (Odar, 2020)


The following are quotes:

“After Apocalypse Now [1979], I had imagined that I was going do this great work, which was going be a series of four films loosely inspired by the Goethe novel Elective Affinities. Those of you who know Elective Affinities know it’s one of the first modern novels and it’s a very simple story about a man and his wife. They’re living in an absolutely wonderful place, and the man suggests, “Oh, my friend the captain, he’s an architect, and I thought it would be nice if he came and lived with us for a while, and he could plan the gardens and stuff.” And the wife says, “Well, you know, I really… We’re so perfect and happy here that, I was going to say, my niece is—her mother has died, and I was going to invite the niece to come live.” And they said, “Well, let’s have the captain and the niece.” So you have the basic setting of the man, the woman, the other man, the other woman. In Goethe’s mind, he was working on a chemical formula. A, B, A-prime, B-prime. And I had a concept to make an ambitious film on that theme.”
— Francis Coppola (2003), “Interview”, Oct 21. [7]

End matter


  1. Goethe, Johann. (1996). Elective Affinities (film) (§1.4) (YT). Publisher.
  2. Elective Affinities (film) (1974) – Wikipedia.
  3. Die Wahlverwandtschaften (TV drama) – Hmolpedia 2020.
  4. Afinidades (2010) – Hmolpedia 2020.
  5. Charlotte – Hmolpedia 2020.
  6. Gretchen question – Hmolpedia 2020.
  7. Schwartz, David. (2003). “Interview: Francis Ford Coppola”, A Pinewood Dialogue Transcript, Oct. 21.

External links

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