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The year 1416: Tirol's Duke Friedrich IV knew that he must flee. From Constance via Bludenz, Kaunertal and Widum he finally reached the Ötztal as Friedl of the Empty Pockets. In Vent he found a hiding place at the Rofenhöfe farms...
600 years ago, at the age of twenty, Friedrich married a German lady from the Palatinate. Protected by Vienna's authorities, he was appointed Duke of Tirol. Somehow one can imagine that this was not a good idea. The old-established local noblemen offered resistance, believing that this young guy was easy prey for them.
In 1416 Friedrich struggles against the noble families. Searching for alliances in the local inns, he found rich freemen and farmers fighting against the mighty castle owners and noblemen's unions - like the Falcons or the Elephants. At least he asked the pope for help, unfortunately it was the wrong one. Pope John XXIII was to have a brief reign before all powers were taken away from him in Constance. As a consequence Friedrich, his supporter and conspirator, was officially banned from both the Empire and the Church.
Friedrich escapes from Constance. As "Friedl of the Empty Pockets" he reached the Ötztal valley after a long journey via Bludenz, Kaunertal, Widum and Vent. Accompanied by his most faithful friend Hans von Mülinen, he found shelter at the Rofenhöfe farms. Friedl still had to hide and tried to flee across Niederjoch with the help of local sheep farmers several times.
In Meran he finally could return to politics, succeeding in his attempt to rule over Tirol again. He transferred his official residence from Meran back to the northern part of Tirol - close to the country's silver and salt mines. Thanks to his alliances with farmers and tradesmen this was the beginning of an incredible economic upturn owed to Archduke Friedrich.
The farmer from Rofen is telling a story. Once he met the Archduke of Tirol in the foothills of Talleitspitze peak and didn't recognize him. He seemed to be a farmhand in search of work. Fortunately there was a lot to do at the farm in Rofen. Food was scarce at that time, and the bed only suitable for an easily satisfied menial.
The narrator describes a couple of historical facts, so that the hikers can understand why Friedrich had to flee. The former Duke and his faithful friend Hans were in a miserable condition when they came to the Rofen farms. The young and highly mysterious Friedl liked to work together with the farm's maid. While Hans always stayed on the farm, Friedrich and the maid worked in the outdoors.
Friedrich and Anna, the maid, among horses and sheep, below steep slopes and clear ponds. A dark shape of a person (pilgrim or mercenary soldier?) appears. Anna doesn't talk very much. She also ignores Friedrich's cheeky jokes. But she knows a lot about life in this high Alpine area. Here in the home mountains she can even save his life several times, without being overbearing.
Friedl (first he almost disdains the maid because he is offended) wants to gain her respect or at least admiration by playing music and performing tricks. No chance. But then someone asks about Friedrich at the Rofenhof farm.
Scene in the hut... if Friedl knows the Archduke? They often played Duke and Duchess, maid and servant. It's mealtime. No forks or knives. Friedrich shows them how it works.
Seriously, the game is over. Just think about the Habsburg marriage politics. Love was not important, real love existed only in romantic minnesongs. A kiss and Anna runs away, down the slope.
A women and her retainers bar Anna's way. She is in search of someone not belonging to this place. Maybe a nobleman? Anna is curious and wants to find out more. Have you seen the Archduke, my husband? All of a sudden the maid understands the secret story of Friedl. And the noble woman as well knows that Friedl hides in the hut. Is it really Friedl's wife? The pilgrims must be mercenary soldiers in search of Friedrich!
A race against time. Anna warns Friedl. Friedls must flee again. Anna saves Friedl's life (what happens with Anna?). Friedl meets his mountain guide Hans in a secret place. He already informed the Baron of Meran who sent troops to escort them safely across the glaciers and granted him asylum (if Friedrich would protect the baron in the future).
On the way to the secret meeting point Hans and Friedl (NARRATOR) discuss about a new plan. Without taking a break they walk past shepherd's huts and refugees to the glacier fields of Marzellferner where they take a well-deserved rest.
But their haunters come nearer and nearer. Hans recognizes the mysterious women in search of Friedl: she is the mother of an accused rapist who tried to violate one of Friedrich's court ladies (when King Sigismund visited Innsbruck). The family's reputation was ruined because Archduke Friedrich insisted on legal charge in the public. Heading towards Mazellferner glacier they are almost trapped. Hans causes a rockslide (the unknown lady is killed) so that Friedl can escape one more time.
He runs back, taking a short detour to lake Samoarsee where he meets Anna once again. Just for fun they make plans for their future, for Tirol's future, while enjoying a swim in the lake.
Friedrich – dressed elegantly like a nobleman – says goodbye. He can't/won't come back. He asks her if she wanted to come with him as a court lady. No. He continues his journey alone, soon he meets the Baron's escort taking him down to Schnals. All of a sudden the maid changes her mind and decides to accompany Friedrich. She follows him secretly. But there is another woman on his side: it is Friedrich's wife. Very disappointed, the maid turns back and Friedrich doesn't even notice her. He continues his journey to Meran.
Wolkenstein - Guillaume Dufay - Organa from Santiago
Very often film music and theater music focus unconsciously on emotional aspects provided by pictures and sounds. Sometimes they also appear in texts, especially when artists act together with music. No matter which kind of music - be it popular music, folk music, farmer's songs, sacred music or pastoral songs - "Friedl" takes advantage of all facets. On the one hand you have a truly breathtaking atmosphere coupled with a very special sound score transmitted via top modern microports. On the other hand visitors indulge in the story and the region's history with the help of musical elements made with real instruments and songs performed live (lute, oboe, drum, singers). Quite far away or very near, the scenes change permanently while your mind has enough time to create your own installation. Machaut, Perotin, Wolkenstein, Josquin, Anonymi
The original Middle High German language can be found only in selected scenes. Most of the text is in typical Ötztal dialect (declared Intangible Cultural Heritage) and standard German.