Andres Veiel – Wer wenn nicht wir AKA If Not Us, Who? (2011)

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West Germany in the early 1960s. The country is quiet – for the time being. Bernward Vesper takes up his studies in Tübingen where he is attending Walter Jens’ seminar on rhetoric. Bernward wants to be a writer and spends his nights bashing the keys of a typewriter. At the same time he is keen to defend his father, the poet Will Vesper who was celebrated by the Nazis as a proponent of their ‘Blood and Soil’ ideology. The land where Bernward lives is being suffocated by its past. The war has only been over for fifteen years, old Nazis are back in positions of power, and nobody is prepared to talk about war crimes; the Republic is standing to attention. One day Bernward meets Gudrun Ensslin and her friend Dörte. Before long, the three friends are living together in a ménage à trois. But their three-way relation- ship doesn’t last long. It soon transpires that Gudrun and Bernward are twin souls. Continue reading

Herbert Achternbusch – Heilt Hitler! AKA Heal Hitler! (1986)

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Herbert in plaster
In the films of Herbert Achternbusch the plot is more of a space in which the Bavarian filmmaker, poet and painter improvises. For example as artist and soldier Herbert in Heilt Hitler!, which premiered 25 years ago at the Berlinale. At night Herbert sits with his last comrade in the trenches of Stalingrad. While his comrade is writing with his finger one last letter to the Fuehrer into the air, Herbert starts to plaster himself with the last bucket of plaster, so the Russians find only a statue. Suddenly Herbert finds himself in the Munich of the eighties. At the war memorial in Munich’s Hofgarten is written “They will rise again”. That’s the miracle of Stalingrad. Herbert does not know where he is and tries to scrounge cigarettes, in Russian. Maybe the Germans have won the war, have rebuilt Stalingrad after the model of Munich and renamed it Hitlergrad. On the Munich Marienplatz and Lake Starnberg Herbert observes that all Germans are sick. Like Hitler: “No one is healed.” Heilt Hitler! is an absurd farce, shot in eleven days in Super-8 and blown-up to 35 mm, a histrionic, avant-garde artist’s film with wonderful monologic passages, where Achternbusch’s later conversion to Buddhism is already indicated.
Detlef Kuhlbrodt in DIE ZEIT, 7th July 2011 Continue reading

Joe May – Das Indische Grabmal: Die Sendung des Yoghi AKA Mysteries of India, Part I: Truth (1921)

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A jealous & vindictive Rajah sends a powerful Yogi to entice a famous English architect into constructing a marvelous mausoleum in which to inter the prince’s faithless wife.

THE Indian TOMB: THE MISSION OF THE YOGI is a perfect example of the grand German cinema epics created during the silent era. Berlin film mogul Joe May turned the full resources of his modern Maytown studio over to the production, using 300 workmen to create the lavish sets necessary to tell such an exotic tale. Continue reading

Joe May – Das Indische Grabmal: Der Tiger von Eschnapur AKA Mysteries of India, Part II: Above All Law (1921)

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The jealous & vindictive Rajah of Bengal continues to manipulate the fates of his three English captives in his mad scheme to punish his faithless wife.

THE Indian TOMB: THE TIGER OF BENGAL is a perfect example of the grand German cinema epics created during the silent era. Berlin film mogul Joe May turned the full resources of his modern 50-acre Maytown studio near Berlin over to the production, using 300 workmen to create the lavish sets necessary to tell such an exotic tale. Continue reading

Donatello Dubini – Die Reise Nach Kafiristan AKA The Journey to Kafiristan (2001)

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In 1939, the author Annemarie Schwarzenbach and ethnologist Ella Maillart travel together by car to Kabul, but each is in pursuit of her own project. Annemarie Schwarzenbach, who was among Erika and Klaus Mann’s circle of friends in the 30’s, is searching for a place of refuge in the Near East to discover her own self. Ella Maillart justifies her restlessness, her need for movement and travel, with a scientific pretext: she would like to explore the mysterious Kafiristan Valley and “make a name” for herself with publications on the archaic life of the nomads living there. Both women are on the run, but political developments and their own biographies catch up with them again and again. Their mutual journey through the outside world, which runs from Geneva via the Balkans and Turkey to Persia, is compounded by the inner world of emotions with a tender love story. As both women arrive in Kabul, the Second World War breaks out and puts an end to their plans.
Une Suisse rebelle, Annemarie Schwarzenbach 1908-1942 Continue reading

Fritz Lang – Der Tiger von Eschnapur AKA The Tiger of Eschnapur (1959)

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“Der Tiger von Eschnapur” is a visual splendor, with an unusually inventive use of color, which is not unlike his British peer Michael Powell (Black orchid,thief of Bagdad).Lang was an architect ,and it’s impossible not to feel it,here more than in his entire American period. It’s no coincidence if his hero (Henri Mercier/Harald Berger) is an architect too;they are always holding and studying plans .Lang’s camera perfectly captures the space it describes .Mercier (Paul Hubschmid)is often filmed in high angle shot,in the huge palace of the Maharajah,in the tiger pit ,or later,in the second part ,in the dungeon where he’s imprisoned.Actually,and it’s obvious,it takes us back to Lang’s German silent era ,particularly “der müde Tod” “die Niebelungen” and “Metropolis”. Continue reading