Germany

Harun Farocki – Zwischen zwei Kriegen AKA Between Two Wars (1978)

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A film about the time of the blast furnances – 1917-1933 – about the development of an industry, about a perfect machinery which had to run itself to the point of its own destruction.

The essay from the Berlin filmmaker, Harun Farocki, on heavy industry and the gas of the blast furnace, convinces through the author’s cool abstraction and manic obsession and through the utilization of a single example of the self-destructive character of capitalistic production: “The image of the blust furnace gas is real and metaphoric; an energy blows away uselessly into the air. Guided through a system of pipes, the pressure increases. Hence, a valve is needed. That valve is the production of war material.” Read More »

Phil Jutzi – Berlin Alexanderplatz [+Extras] (1931)

Plot Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Most modern-day viewers are familiar with German author Alfred Doeblin’s naturalistic novel Berlin Alexanderplatz from its epic TV miniseries presentation, directed in 1980 by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. The Doeblin work was previously filmed on the very brink of the Nazi takeover in 1933, with Heinrich George as the ex-convict protagonist. Yearning for respectability, George finds he cannot escape the influence of his old criminal cohorts. When George refuses to pay “hush money” to the mob, his faithful wife Margarete Schlegel is killed. George resignedly returns to a life of crime, ultimately descending into madness. The 1933 adaptation of Berlin Alexanderplatz ran a brisk 90 minutes; Fassbinder’s 1980 TV version ran ten times longer. Read More »

Anatole Litvak – La chanson d’une nuit (1933)

Opera singer Enrico Ferraro, tired of his too many engagements, jumps off the train escaping from his manager and changes to another going to the Riviera. He makes a friend and stops at a village, where (it seems) he can at last have some well deserved holidays, with the added interest of meeting a beautiful girl in the surroundings. Read More »

Christoph Schlingensief – Mutters Maske AKA Mother’s Mask (1988)

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Mutters Maske aka Mother’s Mask is a free adaptation of the film Opfergang (1944) aka The Great Sacrifice of Veit Harlan.

Schlingensief exposes his source material’s dangerous proximity to kitsch and camp by reducing the genre conventions known from Harlan, Sirk, Fassbinder & Co to the level of a daily soap: set within a noble family from the German Ruhr, Schlingensief’s story revolving about Willy von Mühlenbeck’s tragic love to terminally ill neighbor girl Äls (Susanne Bredehöft) and the inheritance intrigues by his evil brother Martin von Mühlenbeck (Helge Schneider) creaks with melodramatic devices and self-conscious dialogues. Rather than being a mere spoof, “Mother’s Mask” is perhaps Schlingensief’s purest black comedy. Read More »

Helke Sander – Der Beginn aller Schrecken ist Liebe AKA The Trouble with Love (1984)

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In Love Is the Beginning of All Terror the paradoxical politics of emotion are parodied when two liberated, though jealous, women vie for the same man and perform for his gaze. The film addresses the oppressive structures that shape interpersonal relations as well as collective histories commented on in a voice-over. Read More »

Herbert Achternbusch – Die Atlantikschwimmer AKA The Atlantic Swimmers [+Extras] (1976)

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Achternbuschs zweiter Film
Kurzbeschreibung
Zwei Münchner wollen, von Leben und Liebe ermattet, der quälenden Enge ihrer Heimat entfliehen, indem sie den Atlantik durchschwimmen. Achternbusch erzählt in hintersinnig-vertrackten Bildern und Dialogen von der Utopie eines anderen Lebens und von den Mühlsteinen des deutschen Alltags, die den Helden am Halse hängen – nachdem sprichwörtlich gewordenen Motto: “Du hast keine Chance, aber nutze sie!” Read More »

Herbert Achternbusch – Hick’s Last Stand [+Extras] (1990)

Synopsis
[In Hick’s Last Stand] we witness yet another incarnation of a Last Bavarian Mohican, incoherently staggering across the badlands of South Dakota and Wyoming in white cowboy boots, black leather jacket, and a feather on his hat. Without dialogue, without other players besides Herbert Achternbusch, and with the most minimal narrative progression, the film consists only of an image track over which we hear Hick’s extended monologue, a declaration of love to the absent Mary, occasionally interrupted by songs by Judy Garland, Native American chants, and classical music. Read More »