Genre of the Week: Zwerg Nase (Chef Nose the Elf)

BUGA 15

Every profi was once a beginner. Every profi learns from his master. Every profi is best at what he does. But if the profi is missing something, then no matter how well he does with his job, that profi will never feel complete until he finds what he is looking for.

This is the theme of this week’s genre, which is a fairy tale entitled Zwerg Nase (in English: Chef Nose the Elf). Written by Wilhelm Hauff in 1826 and adapted for film at least three times, the focus of the story is on the main character, a 12-year old boy named Jakob, son of a shoemaker and a stallholder selling produce in the market square of a small German town. In the story, Jakob helps his mother sell fruit and vegetables when a old witch comes and asks him for herbs. She then chooses cabbage and has him carry them to her place, where she kidnaps him and holds him hostage for seven years. Jakob learns the profession of cooking but he encounters a special herb that converts him to an elf with a crooked nose. From there, things go down hill, as he is shunned by society- even his own parents disregard him and consider him gone. Yet, he finds a way to climb back from rock bottom, as you can see in the video below……

Despite his success as a cook, he found that through his befriending with a goose, he felt there was something missing that needed to be found. He eventually finds the herb that converted him into the elf, and after smalling it, returns to his form as a human, and things return to what they were, despite him growing older by 12 years. His goose companion becomes a beautiful woman. And he reunites with his parents, who had given up hope on ever seeing him again many years before. In other words, through his discovery of the truth, the family reunion became the one made in heaven, as seen in the film above. 🙂 ❤

This version of the film above is highly recommended because of the actors/ actresses in the film- among them, Mechthild Großmann (who plays the old witch), famous for her role as Commissioner Klemm in the Tatort- Münster series. Her role as the witch is perfect because of the wicked personality- wicked enough that the author is waiting for a Tatort scene where she grabs a person by the collar and threatens him with a Gollum, the Wicked Witch of the West comment: “I’ll get you my precious, if it’s the last thing I do!” 😉

But on the serious side, Zwerg Nase takes the theme of satisfaction to a new level. No matter how great a person is in his profession, the person is not completely whole unless all the pieces of the puzzle in life are found and placed in their rightful places. This includes factors, like love, the truth, real identity and happiness. You can be the greatest, yet how can it be shared when there is no one to share it with, let alone have that person value your work and you as a person? A facade can only be held for a short time, especially when the truth is revealed. And as shown in the film, the truth sometimes can hurt, but in the long run, it makes you even stronger than before. And sometimes, the quest for the truth, and the person who admires you and whom you love, can take lots of time and efforts before it is revealed. For Jakob, it took many years to find that the elf, the famous cook, was a facade waiting to be revealed. And in the end, he got more than what he bargained for.

So the author’s word of advice to all is this: If you are really good at what you are doing and have garnered immense popularity, but feel constantly unhappy on the inside, have a chance to look at yourself and ask yourself why? Is there something missing? Is there a person blindsiding you with praise that you have never had in a long time? If so in this case, then it is time to start digging for the truth. And sometimes, as seen in the story, the truth can be as beautiful as the person blindsiding you. 🙂

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