Tag Archives: Robert Kramer

Robert Kramer – Starting Place/Point de départ (1994)

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We are on the continent of Robert Kramer’s essay-films. What country is this, what year, what time? There are no establishing shots, no introductions to ease us in. Everything is in medias res. Kramer never gives us a superimposed title telling us we are watching ‘Vietnam’ or ‘Paris’ or ‘USA’; he never includes the identifying names of people, typewritten on screen, the first time we see them (and indeed, if we ever do learn this, it is often indirectly, by accident); he rarely introduces a radically different piece of footage into the montage with a reassuring title saying ‘ten years ago’, or a voice-off saying ‘I remember …’. Read More »

Robert Kramer – Guns (1980)

Following a series of films questioning commitment and politics in America and culminating with Milestones 1975, and a 1977 documentary on Lisbon’s Carnation Revolution, Scenes from the Class Struggle in Portugal, Robert Kramer moved to France with his family. The first film he made there was Guns, an intricate feature which echoed the paranoid films of 1970’s Hollywood. With Guns, Kramer continues his exploration of the militant psyche, while at the same time experimenting with different forms of narration. Read More »

Robert Kramer – Notre nazi AKA Our Nazi (1984)

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In 1984, the West German film director Thomas Harlan (maker of Torre Bela [1976] and author of the novel Rosa [2000]), directed Wundkanal: Execution for Four Voices, a joint French-German production about Dr S, a soldier impeached after the war for taking part in the massacre of Jews in Lithuania, and his slide towards suicide. To express his resistance to the forgetting of Nazism as war criminals aged, Harlan cast Alfred Filbert – an actual member of the SS during the War who spoke only German – as Dr S for this experimental fiction film shot in a French studio. (7) Filbert was not aware of what was to happen on set, in front of the camera, mor that the script was merely a pretext or ruse for a psychodramatic ‘happening’: Harlan, in fact, intended to interrogate and expose, ‘live’, his complicity with Nazi atrocities. Read More »

Wim Wenders – Der Stand der Dinge aka The State of Things (1982)

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Fresh from the tangled dramas of two temporarily halted film productions—including his collaboration with Coppola—Wenders used the cinematic quagmires as fodder for a film about filmmaking. Patrick Bauchau, a Wenders-like German arthouse director, is in the midst of making a black-and-white existential science-fiction feature called The Survivors in Portugal when his funding from a US studio is suddenly cut. The lull in production allows the cast and crew—which features Viva, Robert Kramer and Samuel Fuller—to ponder their relationships to the film and indulge in philosophical rambles and wandering detours, biding their time as needs, both creative and practical, float to the surface. Austerely zooming in and out of narrative focus, with an eye on both Hollywood noir and European arthouse, The State of Things meditatively and wryly captures little truths of cinema’s strange dimension. As Fuller’s cinematographer states, “Life is in color, but black and white is more realistic.” Read More »

Robert Kramer & Philip J. Spinelli – Scenes from the Class Struggle in Portugal (1977)

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Combining newsreel footage, still photographs, interviews, and analytical narration, this documentary focuses on the antifascist, anti-imperialist efforts of labor groups, peasants, and working-class soldiers to liberate Portugal from the control of the government of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar. Read More »

Robert Kramer – À toute allure (1982)

A couple of young skaters dream to work in Chicago but travel is too much expensive. A shady photographer want to help them…

Un couple de jeunes patineurs rêve de se produire à Chicago mais le voyage n’est pas à la portée de leur bourse. Un photographe, personnage louche, propose son aide… Read More »

John Douglas & Robert Kramer – Milestones (1975)

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This epic film represents an essential landmark within the political, intellectual and artistic entreprise of the 60’s and 70’s, following the Vietnam War. Milestones cuts back and forth between different story lines and features over fifty different characters, from Vietnam veterans to ex-convicts, parents and kids, native americans…. In 3 hours and 15 minutes, Kramer and Douglas expose the ‘tribe’ where all the alternatives of this generation are experimented. The film questions these experimentations’s success and failures, as well as the directing methods of Newsreel cinema. In 1976, Serge Toubiana wrote in Les Cahiers du Cinema: “If in Milestones one deals with new relationships between human beings and with a new way of life which also integrates the vegetal world as well as the biological world, one also deals primarly with cinema, with a new form of cinema, as if Hollywood would not exist. Kramer and Douglas don’t make Milestones against Hollywood, they shoot as if Hollywood doesn’t exist.” Read More »