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Yella (film)

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Language  German
Director  Christian Petzold
Country  Germany
Yella (film) movie poster
Release date  13 September 2007 (2007-09-13)

Yella trailer

Yella is a 2007 German dramatic-thriller film directed by Christian Petzold. The film is an unofficial remake of the 1962 American film Carnival of Souls.


Yella 2007 clip

Plot summary

A withdrawn accountant, Yella, (Nina Hoss) arrives from a train to her hometown. Yella's estranged husband, Ben, (Hinnerk Schönemann) offers her a ride home from the train station. She declines and walks. Yella visits her father and tells him that she has found a job in Hanover, beginning the following morning. Despite his apparent poverty he gives her a significant amount of money to help her transition in a new city.

The next morning, Yella waits for a car to take her to the train station. Ben arrives, insisting that he give her a ride instead. She reluctantly agrees, and he talks to her about their relationship and his failing business agreements for the duration of the ride. He becomes aggressive as she refuses to return to him. Despite her pleas, he will not let her out of the car and instead drives the vehicle off a bridge. Both Ben and Yella escape the car, and Yella leaves an unconscious Ben on the shores of the river. She catches her train.

After arriving at the hotel, Yella discovers she has no deposit for her room. She gives the hotel manager the cash from her father. That evening, as she eats dinner alone, a man, Philipp (Devid Striesow), asks her if she's interested in data sheets for businesses. She cooly declares that she is.

The following morning, Yella arrives at her new job. Dr. Oto-Schmidt, the man who hired her, asks her to bring a portfolio from his desk. She agrees, but upon arriving in his office, is confronted by a man who says that Dr. Oto-Schmidt is no longer allowed on the premises. When Yella questions him, the doctor offers no insight, but asks for the portfolio. She refuses until he provides her with employment. Eventually, she gives him the portfolio but discovers that he had only a sexual interest in her and she dejectedly returns to her hotel to go home.

A few hours later, Philipp finds her open hotel door and sees her asleep. He wakes her and invites her to help him with a business deal. She accompanies him to a meeting with a company, where she reviews documents and quickly discovers falsified information. Philipp believes they can use that to their advantage and rewards her with 1,000 euro.

When Yella returns to her hotel room, she sees that somebody has been in it- eating, watching television, and resting in the bed. Yella realizes it was Ben, and chases him outside. Ben attempts to kidnap her, but relents after a moment and walks away. She returns to the hotel and sees Philipp and the businessman from the meeting earlier that day making a deal in Philipp's parked car. Philipp follows her to her room and asks for her help on another deal. In their next meeting, Yella displays an instinct for manipulation that impresses Philipp.

On their drive home from this meeting, Philipp gives Yella an envelope with 75,000 euro and some deposit slips, asking her to deposit the money for him. After making the deposit the bank teller tells her that she gave him 25,000 euro more than necessary. She takes the extra money, planning to mail it somewhere before rejoining Philipp. As she prepares to send the envelope off, Philipp interrupts her. She joins him, but does not reveal the extra money. Philipp casually mentions, as they drive, that he knows about the extra 25,000. She returns it to him and Philipp angrily storms away. That evening, Yella considers returning home but instead talks to Philipp in his hotel room. She explains that she stole the money to send to Ben, who claimed he needed financial help until an airport was built in their town. She had hoped that the money would keep him from stalking her. Philipp discloses that there is no airport being built, that Ben must be manipulating her, and that he would like to keep working with her.

Following another successful meeting, Philipp invites Yella to accompany him on his travels to another business. She accepts, and as she calls her father to tell him, Ben interrupts from her room. He explains that their company ruined their love and that he will return to his job as electrician to have her back. She tells him to leave and he hits her. She runs to Philipp's room for help. He opens the door and they embrace, but Ben is nowhere to be seen. Yella kisses Philipp and they retreat to his room to have sex.

The following morning Yella drives Philipp's car and takes a detour to her hometown. He becomes angry, asking her to stop. She stops and he takes the driver's seat. Yella exits the car and walks to a field. Philipp catches up and apologizes. He explains that he was afraid of meeting her father and his expectations of domesticity. He explains his own plans for designing a better system for oil rigs but that he still needs 200,000 euro to begin his enterprise. Yella says she will continue to help. Yella asks that Philipp stop in the next town so she can get something to wear. Philipp reveals that their last meeting was his last customer, and that his organization is dumping him.

Yella drives away and enter's a man from a previous meeting's home, explaining her business exploits to him. She blackmails him with information she gained and demands 200,000 euro. She asks him about his life insurance policy. She returns to Philipp at a motel and tells him she loves him.

The next morning, the two wait for the man with whom she had previously conversed. He cannot be found but Yella catches a glimpse of him which then vanishes. She goes to his home, asking his wife to help her. Yella and the man's wife discover his body in the river.

Yella is in the back of a car. Suddenly, Ben is the driver, and he steers the car off the bridge. She does not resist.

Police remove the car from the water and drag Ben and Yella's bodies to the shore.


  • Nina Hoss - Yella Fichte
  • Devid Striesow - Philipp
  • Hinnerk Schönemann - Ben
  • Burghart Klaußner - Dr. Gunthen
  • Barbara Auer - Barbara Gunthen
  • Christian Redl - Yella's father
  • Selin Barbara Petzold - Dr. Gunthen's daughter
  • Wanja Mues - Sprenger
  • Production

    The film's title was inspired by actress Yella Rottländer who was the female lead in the 1974 film, Alice in the Cities. Yella was filmed in Germany in Hannover, Lower Saxony and, Wittenberge, Brandenburg.

    The film is the third part of director Christian Petzold's "Gespenster" trilogy (the first being The State I Am In and the second being Gespenster.


    Critical reception for the film has been mostly positive.

    Roger Ebert praised the film awarding it 3 1/2 / 4 stars stating, "The writer-director, Christian Petzold, uses a spare, straightforward visual style for the most part, except for those cutaways to trees blowing in the wind whenever we heard the harsh bird cry. He trusts his story and characters. And he trusts us to follow the business deals and become engrossed in the intrigue. I did". Ebert also praised male leads Striesow and Schoenemann calling the similarities of both characters' physical presences as being "unsettling".

    It currently has an 81% on the review website Rotten Tomatoes, the sites consensus saying "Chilly and haunting, Yella's atmosphere gets under the skin".


    Yella (film) Wikipedia