New German Films (1990 - 2005)

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Re: New German Films (1990 - 2005)

Postby arsaib4 » Sat Aug 26, 2006 7:11 pm

A: Any thoughts on these new German films?

Four Mintues - Chris Kraus
Summer '04 - Stefan Krohmer
Winter Journey - Hans Steinbichler
I Am the Other Woman - Margarethe von Trotta
Strike - Volker Schlondorff
The Lives of Others - Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Kristall - Christoph Girardet, Matthias Mueller

Re: New German Films (1990 - 2005)

Postby A » Sun Aug 27, 2006 6:22 pm

I suppose this is all festival-stuff, since I have heard only of one of those you mention.
"The lives of others" was a hugely succesful and very controversial film here in Germany (kind of this year's "Downfall"). It was said to be the first german film which concerns itself with the "Stasi" (the east german secret service) from the perspective of a perpetrator, which isn't true, but it's certainly the most discussed. It won 7 german film awards, though this might be due more to the film's subject matter, than to its cinematic qualities. A friend of mine has said the film itself is nothing outstanding, but as I haven't seen it myself (wasn't interested in all the hype) I can't give you my opinion.

I am not familiar with the films of experimental filmmaker Matthias Mller, either, but I've generally heard and read good things about his work. He seems to be working regularly with Girardet on his more recent films. Would be nice, if you could review something more "avant-garde" if you catch it.

Where do you have the opportunity to watch these movies?

Re: New German Films (1990 - 2005)

Postby arsaib4 » Mon Aug 28, 2006 9:12 pm

Thanks for your response, A.

Yeah, a few of the films I mentioned are playing at the upcoming TIFF. But since I'm having some problems arranging my school schedule, which is heavier than I thought it'd be, I'm not sure at this point if I'll be able to attend or not.

Re: New German Films (1990 - 2005)

Postby arsaib4 » Mon Sep 04, 2006 3:36 am


Along with Chris Marker and, based on his recent work, Jean-Luc Godard, Harun Farocki is one of the leading cine-essayists working today. Much like his French counterparts, Farocki, who was born in 1944 in German-annexed Czechoslovakia and is currently based in Germany, not only excels at scouring and interpreting the subjects of his presentations, but also, and more importantly, his own methods of exposition. He has already made over 90 films in his career, in which he has also been seen as an author and a professor. Its a shame that, for the most part, Farockis work in the past has been relegated to remote and underground festivals, and thus it remains quite inaccessible. But in the uncertain political climate of today, when medias role is constantly being brought into question, his oeuvre seems to have found a newfound importance -- which isnt surprising to say the least because of Farockis penchant for implementing educational and discerning processes to discover/decipher reality from history.

In Videograms of a Revolution (Videogramme einer Revolution), which Farocki created and assembled with Romanian writer Andrei Ujica, the focus is on Romania's 1989 revolution which ended with the death of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who led a brutal rgime for over 20 years, paralyzing the country in more ways than one. Thanks to Ujica, the filmmaker was able to gain access to previously unseen footage from various professional and non-professional sources. The nearly 125 hours of footage, mostly shot during the 5-day span during which television cameras in Bucharest uninterruptedly recorded the events while the TV-studio was taken over by civilian demonstrators, was then condensed to highlight and elucidate the key events.

Early on, by instituting clips from various outlets, Farocki tactfully presents the differing interpretations of the same event: Ceausescus speech, which turned out to be his final. While its television broadcast was suddenly interrupted due to crowd unrest, a few cameras continued recording, capturing images and sounds that told a different story than what the state-sanctioned telecast led people to believe. And later in this doc-essay, we witness, perhaps from the very same cameras, a harrowing, October-like besieging of the presidential palace, as the Ceausescus flee in a helicopter from the rooftop. (Why cant something like this happen in the country which now needs it most?)

For the most part, the voice-over narration (in English, by a female speaker -- at least on the U.S. DVD) is well utilized, explicating what is necessary to gather from the various vantage points. Perhaps the seminal sequence of the work, insinuating the newfound power of media, occurs when the vice-president is not only brought on to the public stage, but is asked to repeat the statement which constitutes the dissolving of the government in order for the cameras to catch it properly. Farocki then takes us behind-the-scenes, where individuals are seen bickering over their new roles. But no one is seen shedding a tear when the bullet-riddled body of Ceausescu is ultimately displayed on television, even though it wont bring back their loved ones who no longer exist.


*Now available on DVD in the U.S. (Facets). Unfortunately, there are no extra features on the disc. A simple biography and a partial filmography of the filmmaker would have sufficed.

Re: New German Films (1990 - 2005)

Postby arsaib4 » Sat Nov 25, 2006 8:44 am

Andreas Dresen is perhaps someone who should be mentioned alongside other promising German filmmakers -- you noted his 2000 film Die Polizistin in your original post, and both of us saw and liked his latest, Summer in Berlin. But what about Nachtgestalten? Any thoughts on that?

Re: New German Films (1990 - 2005)

Postby madhuban » Mon Nov 27, 2006 9:19 am

@ arsaib

Saw Winterreise (Winter Journey) last week at an Indo-German festival in Bangalore and it was a disappointment. The first part of the film is quite taut with a restless camera and tight closeups detailing the psychosis of an old man as he tries to come to terms with a failing business and his wife's illness. However, midway through the film, he gets involved in an African scam and the moment the film moves to Africa it becomes a sad mess. Added to the exoticism is the man's change of heart - from calling every black man "@#%$ @#%$" to the decision to stay back in that country. Very limp and very irritating, especially after a long day at work and an equally long drive to the theatre where it was being screened. And, Hanna Schygulla, who was one of the prime reasons for picking out this film to watch out of an uneven package, had precious little to do but look old and ill.


Re: New German Films (1990 - 2005)

Postby arsaib4 » Tue Nov 28, 2006 5:45 am

Thanks, Madhuban.

Re: New German Films (1990 - 2005)

Postby arsaib4 » Fri Dec 01, 2006 8:18 am

A?? (I need to know about Dresen's Nachtgestalten.)

Re: New German Films (1990 - 2005)

Postby A » Mon Dec 04, 2006 8:01 pm

Sorry arsaib, but since studies have begun i haven't checked a lot of the threads on our board...
I haven't seen anything else besides "Summer in Berlin" and The Policewoman" by Dresen yet, but from what I've heard, Nachtgestalten is very good, and most fans of his work consider it to be one of his best films. It may seem a bit rash, but after having seen two of his films and some parts of his Berlinale winner Halbe Treppe (2002) - which made me believe that this might be one of the best films of the new decade, though i still haven't seen it in its entirety - I would say any film by Dresen is probably worth watching.

Don't know if you want some specific info on Nachtgestalten - are you planning to purchase it?

Re: New German Films (1990 - 2005)

Postby arsaib4 » Tue Dec 05, 2006 12:34 am

Thanks for that. Yes, I am looking into acquiring it -- the German DVD appears to have subs.


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