Told in seven chapters, Käutner’s first postwar film portrays the lives of average people overwhelmed and traumatized by the impact of fascism. Käutner uses the framing device of an automobile whose various owners serve as the film’s protagonists and initiate its episodic structure. The characters represent an interesting cross-section of the German people including a deserting soldier, a Jewish couple and a composer who has been labeled as subversive. During a time when most Germans wanted to forget the past, Käutner eschewed the controlled setting of the UFA studios and chose to film in the bombed out streets of Berlin, crafting a humanistic rendering of recent history. Continue reading
Every Day was a film that German avant-garde filmmaker Hans Richter made as part of a film production course run by the Film Society. It features filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein playing a policeman, whilst Len Lye and Basil Wright provided technical assistance. These contributions reflect the sense of internationalism occurring at this time in British film circles. The film was completed in 1929 under the title The Daily Round, but was never released because Richter was unhappy with the result. Richter began to rework the film in 1975, but died before its completion. It was finally restored, with the addition of a soundtrack, after his death. Continue reading
A man is interviewed by a sympathetic woman. His tale unfolds, of hard work that never pleases his parents, of a father who denigrates his efforts, of an indifferent mother. He builds them a house. Instead of offering their flat to him and his bride, they give the flat up, so he goes to Munich to work in construction, bringing his wife who is soon pregnant. They buy things on credit; he works overtime. He shows up with flowers and expensive gifts. When construction slows and he works less overtime, he cannot adjust his spending habits: he needs to be loved. Pressures mount. When he snaps, and violence ensues, who will be his victim? Continue reading
On an overcast summer’s day, Merle arrives at her lover Romuald’s villa, jacket and luggage in hand, to find the doors are locked. He had invited her to visit him in the south of France but seems to have headed off somewhere. She thus has to come to some arrangement with his uncooperative children, help celebrate Emma’s 13th birthday and put up with Felix’s impudence, the 16-year-old son who sees her presence as a provocation.
It doesn’t take long for the host’s absence to become barely noticeable. The plot centres on Merle, on her attempts to fit in, to take on this unexpected role as naturally as possible. In a particularly striking scene, she gets into an argument with the local baker, who refuses to give her a cake ordered for Emma’s birthday. Merle loses the battle of wills. When Romuald finally calls, she decides to side with his children rather than her distant lover, and quietly enjoys her breakthrough. With great empathy and subtlety, Nicolas Wackerbarth’s Halbschatten creates a portrait of a person ill at ease with being the centre of attention, in the glaring sunlight. Continue reading
In her film Germany, Pale Mother Sanders-Brahms depicts her childhood in Germany during and after WWII. In order to survive, mother (Lene) and child (Anna) form a self-sufficient bond which excludes the father when he returns from war. The film portrays a child’s resilience in the face of such war trauma as death, and, especially for girls, fear of assault. Anna emulates Lene’s ability to transcend suffering through her will to survive and through narrative, the focus of this paper. Lene’s reciting of the Grimms’ “The Robber Bridegroom” fairy tale, in which the heroine flees and defeats her potential assailant by telling her story, enables them to overcome their suffering as war victims and inspires Anna, the filmmaker, to narrate their story, to become the subject not the object of her life story, and to transcend the past. Postwar scenes depict the difficulty of returning to traditional family roles because of the father’s wartime absence and the resulting abuse from a disillusioned, frustrated husband/father, the postwar “enemy”. There is a role reversal in which Anna becomes the mother’s caretaker which reaches its climax in the final scene Continue reading
Friedrich Schiller was Germany’s William Shakespeare, a poet and playwright who espoused Romanticism and was for a time forced into exile because of his political writings. Alongside Goethe, he is considered the premier figure of German letters.
Info from wiki,
Fata Morgana is a film by Werner Herzog, shot in 1969, which captures mirages in the desert. Herzog describes the film as “a documentary shot by extraterrestrials from the Andromeda Nebula, and left behind.” The only spoken words consist of a recitation of the Mayan creation myth (the Popul Vuh) by Lotte Eisner, and text written and recited by Herzog himself.
The critic David Thomson describes Fata Morgana as “extraordinary”: “[The] desert is a model for mankind. The film is in three sections: the first showing an unpeopled, beautiful wasteland; the second introducing signs of human wreckage; and the third showing wretched vestiges of life. Totally imaginative, it is a legend of life at extremes that exposes the fatuity of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Whereas Stanley Kubrick glibly assumes some all-powerful, riddle-making consciousness behind the universe, Herzog’s creator is as fallible, quirky and uncertain as man himself.” Continue reading