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September 2003 - Nr. 9

 

The Editor
Antje berichtet
Elizabeth Kuehn
Dear Mom
Rachel Seilern
Over the Fence
Music Toronto
25 Years Musik
KW and Beyond
City Elections
Echo-Lines
Top Honor in Venice?
Toronto Film Festival
Mustard Festival
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehŲrt?
Financial Advice
The White Wale
Planet in Focus
After the Flood
Sahara-Touristen frei
Berlin Wall
Comics Fair
Rediscover East Germany
Literary "Wunderkind"
350 Years of Opera
"German Trilogy"
New Element

"German Trilogy" at the Berlin Film Museum

  TWIG - Germanyís film auteur par excellence Reiner Werner Fassbinder once called Luchino Viscontiís film "The Damned" (Die Verdammten, 1969) "the most German of all films." This week, an exhibition opens at Berlinís Film Museum that sheds light on the Italian directorís so-called "Germany Trilogy," a trio of films dealing with German subjects that were made between 1969 and 1972.

Seven years after the concept for the exhibition was developed, curator Wolfgang Storch has succeeded in paying homage to some of the greatest films with German subjects ever made - albeit by an Italian director.

The exhibition begins in a room dedicated to memorabilia associated with the films, from posters and set photos to screenplay drafts and the directorís personal notes.

The second chamber - an installation by documentary filmmaker Thomas Heise - is the highlight of the exhibit. Here, the showcase is the opening sequence of "The Damned," the first film of the series. The film tells the true story of the von Essenbecks clan, a high-power industrialist family that falls apart in the wake of the Nazi regime. Corresponding to the first scene of the movie, in which the family sits down to a meal, visitors to the exhibit can sit down at laptops placed at a table and view the story lines of specific family members in a sequence of pictures.

Viscontiís second film in the series, "Death in Venice," (1970) inspired by Thomas Mannís novel, is one of the most recognized film adaptations of German literature ever. While it received critical acclaim for its period costumes, music, and acting, its handling of homoeroticism remained largely misunderstood in its time.

"Ludwig" (1972) is by and large the least known of the three films, and deals with last Bavarian King Ludwig II, who is known for building his famous castles with public funds. In the film, the "Mad King" is portrayed as a dying breed, a figurehead so completely divorced from the people that he is lost in a world of whimsy and aestheticism. Romy Schneider reprises the role that she made famous as Austriaís Empress Elizabeth.

At the time of their release, critics measured the three films against the real stories they portrayed. Today, they are more appreciated for Viscontiís operatic sets, costumes, acting, and the directorís inimitable style.

Next to Roberto Rossellini and Vittorio DeSica, Visconti is known having been one of the pre-eminent directors of neo-realism after World War II. Directors of the movement were interested in portraying the brutality of the post-war period by stripping film of its artifice. Visconti himself wrote the movementís manifesto.

All three films in the trilogy will be shown in September and October as a part of a celebration of Viscontiís works at Berlinís Film Museum.

The exhibit runs through November 16, 2003.

 

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