Gottfried Keller wrote the novel „A Village Romeo and Juliet“ in 1847, inspired by a true story described in a newspaper article.
Two young people, the son and daughter of two rich farmers, fall in love despite the bitter hostility between their fathers. These were once good friends but now fight about a piece of land in-between their fields that both want to possess. But the uncultivated land is claimed by the descendant of the original owner – a wandering fiddle player. In spite of this, the corrupt local authority decides to auction it. It is then awarded to one of the farmers at an exorbitant price.
In Shakespeare’s play the feuding families attack each other with large entourages . Keller concentrates the conflict to a small Swiss village community and the animosity of the fathers. This leads to the fatal catastrophe of their children who, seeing no possibility for a future together, take their own lives.
„A Village Romeo and Juliet“ was filmed by the Swiss film-maker Hans Trommer in 1941. Created under the threat of World War II, today it is considered to be one of the milestones in the history of Swiss film.