Volker Schlöndorff

  • Volker Schlöndorff – Der Unhold aka The Ogre (1996)

    In its most unsettling scenes, set at a castle being used as a military training school for Hitler youth, Volker Schlondorff’s film “The Ogre” suggests the stirring cinematic equivalent of a Wagner opera.

    As you watch hundreds of adolescent boys being hyped with a messianic blend of heroic German mythology and Nazi ideology and participating in torch-lit rituals and athletic contests, you sense of the thrill of being a boy swept up in the demented pageantry and passion of the Nazi cause.Read More »

  • Volker Schlöndorff – Der Namenlose Tag AKA The Nameless Day (2017)

    Der namenlose Tag is Volker Schlöndorff’s first-ever TV crime drama…Read More »

  • Volker Schlöndorff – Die Moral der Ruth Halbfass AKA The Morals of Ruth Halbfass (1972)

    from Hans-Bernhard Moeller and George Lellis, “Volker Schlöndorff’s Cinema”

    Volker Schlöndorff based his film “Die Moral der Ruth Halbfass” on a rather spectacular murder case that involved a rich Düsseldorff industrialist’s wife, Minouche Schubert. The case was the stuff of tabloid newspaper exposés, and to some extent “The Morals of Ruth Halbfass” was a calculated attempt by Schlöndorff to win over a popular audience.Read More »

  • Volker Schlöndorff – Der plötzliche Reichtum der armen Leute von Kombach AKA The Sudden Wealth of Poor People of Kombach (1971)

    From Amos Vogel’s Film as a Subversive Art:
    An excellent example of a particularly interesting new genre of young German cinema; bizarre, deadly serious variations on the reactionary German “Heimat” films of yore – those insufferable, sentimental “kitsch” prosodies to Fatherland, Soil, and Family. This fully realized work effectively upsets this tradition by recounting a tale of oppressed 19th-century German peasants who become rebels against the state out of poverty, revealing (instead of romanticizing) the brutal degradation of German rural life at the time. Particularly audacious is the presence of an itinerant Jew peddler as mastermind (!) of the conspiracy, predictably leading to (unfounded) charges of anti-semitism against a young director who has dared to reintroduce the Jew into German dramaturgy.Read More »

  • Volker Schlöndorff – Ulzhan (2007)

    Somewhere in the endless steppes of Central Asia lies a treasure. One man holds the key to it, a fragment of an ancient map. But in his restless quest, Charles isn’t looking for fame or glory. He’s looking for a way to heal his wounded soul. He’s looking for love. Ulzhan felt it the first time she laid eyes on him.Read More »

  • Volker Schlöndorff – Return to Montauk (2017)


    The author Max Zorn, now in his early 60s, is on a promotional book tour in New York when he meets up again with the woman he could never forget. They spend a weekend together. 17 years have passed. Can there be a future for their past?Read More »

  • Volker Schlöndorff – Die Blechtrommel AKA The Tin Drum [Director’s Cut] (1979)


    “A country unable to mourn,” Volker Schlöndorff wrote in his journal as he adapted Günter Grass’ novel, The Tin Drum. “Germany, to this day, is the poisoned heart of Europe.” When the film premiered in West German cinemas in early May 1979, it figured within a country’s larger (and, in many minds, long overdue) reckoning with a legacy of shame and violence. Indeed, the Nazi past haunted the nation’s screens, more so than it ever had since the end of World War II. The American miniseries Holocaust aired that year on public television in February and catalyzed wide discussion about Germany’s responsibility for the Shoah. Later that month, Peter Lilienthal’s David gained accolades at the Berlin Film Festival for its stirring depiction of a young Jewish boy living underground in the Reich’s capital during the deportations to the camps. History returned as film; retrospective readings of the Third Reich by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Alexander Kluge, Edgar Reitz, Helma Sanders-Brahms, and Hans-Jürgen Syberberg (among others) would become the calling card of the New German Cinema and bring this group of critical filmmakers an extraordinary international renown. In 1979, The Tin Drum won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. A year later, it would become the first feature from the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) to receive an Oscar for best foreign film.Read More »

  • Volker Schlöndorff – Michael Kohlhaas – Der Rebell AKA Man on Horseback [alternate English cut] (1969)


    Man on Horseback (German: Michael Kohlhaas – der Rebell) is a 1969 German drama film directed by Volker Schlöndorff based on the novel Michael Kohlhaas by Heinrich Von Kleist. It was entered into the 1969 Cannes Film Festival.[1]

    Another film based on the book is scheduled for release at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. The made-for-TV western “The Jack Bull” (1999) starring John Cusack is also based on von Kleist’s “Michael Kohlhaas.”

    Synopsis: It’s medieval times. Kohlhaas merchants with horses. When going to the local fair to sell his horses, is forced by a noble to leave him part of the merchandise as payment for traveling through his land, promising to give it back when the fair is over. When he returns, the horses are almost dead, and the man refuse to respond, so Kohlhass begins to fight unsuccesfuly against the injustice.

    This is your basic revenge story with a bunch of horses and violence. Also, David Warner wears some ridiculous leather pants and gets Anna Karina to walk on his back.Read More »

  • Volker Schlöndorff – Baal (1970)


    Baal explores the cult of the genius, an anti-heroic figure who chooses to be a social outcast and live on the fringe of bourgeois morality.

    Screening as part of the Masters & Restorations program at this year’s MIFF is Baal, writer/director Volker Schlöndorff’s television adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s play of the same name which features a rare leading performance by Schlöndorff’s contemporary in the German New Wave and master filmmaker Reiner Werner Fassbinder outside of his own films. After a single screening in 1970 it was removed from public release by Brecht’s widow, but 44 years later is making the rounds at film festivals thanks his granddaughter who has approved its release. And thankfully it was worth the wait, offering a rare treat for foreign film fans.Read More »

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