Harun Farocki – Parallel 2 – 4 (2014)

The four‐part cycle Parallel deals with the image genre of computer animation. The series focuses on the construction, visual landscape and inherent rules of computer-animated worlds.

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Cinema’s onscreen worlds have always borne an indexical bond to the real, thanks to film’s ability to register traces of physical reality and preserve them as enduring images. What happens when computer-generated video game images—images possessing no such indexical bond—usurp film as the predominant medium of visual worldmaking? How does one’s relation to onscreen heroes shift when we no longer identify with real bodies, but with affectless avatars scarcely possessing a face? Continue reading

Helmut Käutner – In jenen Tagen aka Seven Journeys (1947)

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Synopsis:

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

Hans Richter – Everyday (1929)

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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

Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Ich will doch nur, daß ihr mich liebt aka I Only Want You to Love Me (1976)

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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

Nicolas Wackerbarth – Halbschatten AKA Everyday Objects (2013)

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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

Helma Sanders-Brahms – Deutschland bleiche Mutter aka Germany, Pale Mother (1980)

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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