Friday, April 29, 2005

Der letzte Akt


Der letzte Akt. Albin Skoda (Adolf Hitler), Lotte Tobisch (Eva Braun).

Hitlerin viimeiset päivät / Hitlers sista dagar / The Last Ten Days. AT 1955. PC: Cosmopol-Filmproduktion (Vienna). EX: Carl Szokoll. P: Ludwig Polsterer. D: G. W. Pabst. SC: Fritz Habeck – based on a treatment by Erich Maria Remarque – based on an outline by Leo Lania – based on the works of Michael A. Musmano, including Ten Days to Die. DP: Günther Anders. PD: Werner Schliching, Otto Pischinger, Wolf Witzemann. Filmed at Atelier Wien-Sievering and Baden bei Wien.
    Starring Albin Skoda (Adolf Hitler), Oskar Werner (Captain Wüst), Willy Krause (Goebbels).
    Originally 114', this one 104'.
    A vintage print with Finnish / Swedish subtitles. A press screening at Orion, Helsinki, 28 April 2005.

A daring film by Pabst, breaking the German Bilderverbot concerning Hitler, filming in Vienna the taboo subject that was tackled in Germany first 60 years after the fact in Der Untergang. The latter film is superior, but this one is also quite interesting and well acted. Visually, it is extremely dark, and the Nazi leaders are almost shadows lurking in the bunker. Hitler is portrayed more like a madman than in the Bruno Ganz interpretation. Intriguingly, Pabst wanted Werner Krauss to portray Hitler, presumably because of his ability to portray evil genius and demonic fascination. Albin Skoda is very good, yet somewhere there is a fleeting aspect of something that brings to mind Mike Myers as Dr. Evil. Unspeakable evil is almost impossible to portray in realistic terms; Caligari and Mabuse were close to the target, as Pabst seems to have realized with his Werner Krauss idea. But the banality of evil that Pabst and Der Untergang highlight is also worth dramatizing. Not one of Pabst's masterpieces, yet a honorable quality production worth seeing. ***

Monday, April 25, 2005

Sunrise

Auringonnousu / Soluppgång. US (c) 1927 Fox Film. P: William Fox. D: F.W. Murnau. SC: Carl Mayer - based on the short story "Die Reise nach Tilsit" (1917) by Hermann Sudermann. DP: Charles Rosher, Karl Struss. PD: Rochus Gliese. M: Hugo Riesenfeld. Starring George O'Brien (Man), Janet Gaynor (Woman), Margaret Livingstone (City Woman). 96 min. The Killiam reconstructed version, high contrast print, screened without soundtrack. A SONG OF TWO HUMANS WORD COMPOSITION BY LAURA LINDSTEDT to Sunrise (1927) with actors Jussi Lehtonen (Man) and Hanna Ojala (Woman), music by Sanna Salmenkallio performed by Sanna Salmenkallio (violin) and Max Lilja (cello). Presented at Orion, Helsinki, 24 April 2005. The more I see Sunrise the more heavy and abstract it gets: beyond realism, beyond psychology it takes place in a Gestalt world, where everything is broadly sketched, which takes place in a space between sleep and being awake. The Man is the sleepwalker, the women are two psychic forces fighting over him. The Madonna and the Vamp, beyond melodrama. The word and music composition had an aspect of Dadaistic assault on the heavy imagery.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

La Femme du Gange

FR 1973. PC: Albina Productions / O.R.T.F. D+SC: Marguerite Duras - based on her novels L'Amour (1971), Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein (1964), and Le Vice-Consul (1966). DP: Bruno Nuytten. M: Carlos d'Alessio. Theme: "India Song". Location: Trouville-sur-Mer. Starring Catherine Sellars (the woman in black, the spouse of the traveller), Nicole Hiss (the girl at S. Thala), Gérard Depardieu (the young man on the beach, "the guardian"), Christian Baltauss (The other man on the beach), Dionys Mascolo (the traveller). 88 min. A worn 16mm print with colour intact from Gémini Films with e-subtitles in Finnish by Kristina Haataja. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki 23 April 2005. The first film in the India cycle of Duras, the filmic high point of which remains India Song. 152 shots with an immobile camera on the beach, on the sunset, and in the seaside hotel. The soundtrack and the image are radically independent. Extremely minimalistic, the aim was to butcher the three India novels by Duras.

Son nom de Venise dans Calcutta désert

FR 1976. PC: Cinéma 9 / PIPA / Editions Albatros. D+SC: Marguerite Duras. DP: Bruno Nuytten. M: Carlos D'Alessio. Theme: "India Song". Location: Palais Rothschild (Boulogne). Voices of Michel Lonsdale (the vice consul of Lahore), Delphine Seyrig (Anne-Marie Stretter). 120'. 35mm print projected in THE INDIA CYCLE OF MARGUERITE DURAS LECTURE SPECTACLE BY MARTTI-TAPIO KUUSKOSKI. Christina Indrenius-Zalewski (Marguerite Duras), Kati Kuuskoski as the mad beggar woman and puppeteer of Michel Lonsdale and Marguerite Duras. Orion, Helsinki, 23 April 2005. This film belongs to the multimedia India cycle of Duras, and is her third and final film of the cycle, for her "the most important thing I have made in the field of film art". Sound and image are radically separated. The sound is that of India Song. The image is a two-hour camera journey in the ruins of Palais Rothschild. The spectacle played in front of the screen had an aspect of a Dadaist attack on Duras.
Valentine Beldat: "Il reprend la bande-son India Song, mais sur d'autres images : Marguerite Duras filme inlassablement les ruines du Palais Rothschild à Boulogne. Pas d'acteurs, simplement des plans obsédants des façades, du parcs, de pièces vides et délabrées, des caves... Dans cet univers abandonné des voix tentent de se souvenir d'une histoire. Un homme détesté (le vice consul de Lahore) dit son amour impossible à une femme adorée (Anne-Marie Stretter) en créant un scandale lors d'une soirée à l'Ambassade de France à Calcutta... Cette passion improbable baigne dans une ambiance de lèpre lancinante : lèpre du lieu filmé, lèpre des sentiments, lèpre de la mémoire... Seule la musique redonne un peu de vie aux souvenirs d'une passion sans issue... C'est un spectacle total, hypnotisant, unique, inoubliable... Il s'achève sur un coucher de soleil, tandis qu'une mandiante chante une vieille mélodie du Laos..."

Friday, April 22, 2005

Poetry performance Fauno (1917) (1994 / 2002 Lumière Project restoration)


Il fauno / Der Traum von der Liebe – Ein erotisches Spiel von Febo Mari. Plakat zur Uraufführung des Films Frühjahr 1919 in Österreich. Entwurf Rolf Saal, Österreich 1919. Druck ROB-Verlag (Karl Rob), Wien. Image: Sitatatirulala / Plakate & Inserate / Pinterest.

IT 1917. PC: Ambrosio (Torino). D+SC: Febo Mari. DP: Giuseppe Paolo Vitrotti.
    Starring Febo Mari (the Faun), Helena Makowska (Femmina, the Princess), Nietta Mordeglia (Fede, the Model), Vasco Creti (Arte, the Sculptor).
    1325 m /18 fps/ 64 min.
    The Lumière Project restored Desmet version 1994 / 2002 (Cineteca del Friuli / Museo Nazionale del Cinema di Torino / la Cinémathèque Royale de Bruxelles – based on prints at Torino and Helsinki).
    Accompanied by poetry and some electric guitar strumming by Tuomas Timonen.
    Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 22 April 2005.

The milestone of Italian Symbolist cinema revisited in its restored version, as a performance with live poetry commentary.

INTERSECTIONS OF WORD AND IMAGE, SECOND WEEKEND

LEIKKAUKSIA ELÄVÄSTÄ SANASTA ELÄVÄÄN KUVAAN II. Orion, Helsinki, 22-24 April 2005 (first weekend). The Nuoren Voiman Liitto society of young poets and writers arranged a film event during two weekends. The concept: writers meet the cinema.

Friday 22 April
FAUNO (IT 1917) ACCOMPANIED BY POET TUOMAS TIMONEN

Saturday 23 April
15.00 THE INDIA CYCLE OF MARGUERITE DURAS LECTURE SPECTACLE BY MARTTI-TAPIO KUUSKOSKI.
Christina Indrenius-Zalewski (Marguerite Duras), Kati Kuuskoski as the mad beggar woman and puppeteer of Michel Lonsdale and Marguerite Duras - while Son nom de Venise dans Calcutta désert (1976) was screened
17.15 LA FEMME DU GANGE (1974)

Sunday 24 April
A SONG OF TWO HUMANS WORD COMPOSITION BY LAURA LINDSTEDT to Sunrise (1927) with actors Jussi Lehtonen (Man) and Hanna Ojala (Woman), music by Sanna Salmenkallio performed by Sanna Salmenkallio (violin) and Max Lilja (cello)

NEW CHANNELS OF FILM DISTRIBUTION SEMINAR

The Finnish Film Foundation (SES) Auditorium, Helsinki, 22 April 2005, all day. Opened and hosted by Harri Ahokas, head of distribution (SES).
NEW CHALLENGES OF DVD DISTRIBUTION / Leif Lindblad, CEO, Sandrew Metronome Distribution Finland. DVD has been booming for five years now, and it does not seem to be slowing down. By the end of the year, the blue laser DVD's (HD-DVD and BluRay) are expected to break.
FILM DISTRIBUTION ON THE INTERNET AND THE PIXOFF SHORT FILM PORTAL / Cyde Hyttinen, Producer, Provisual Oy
THE VIDEO-ON-DEMAND PROJECT AT PIXOFF / Lassi Tasajärvi, Project Manager, Provisual Oy
A CASE OF VIDEO-ON-DEMAND: FILMARKIVET.NO / Ole A. Werring, Project Manager (Norway)
A CASE OF VIDEO-ON-DEMAND: SF-ANYTIME / Johan Cramer, CEO (Sweden)
BACKGROUNDS OF NET PIRACY OF FILMS / Lassi Tasajärvi, Project Manager, Provisual Oy
FIGHTING NET PIRACY OF FILMS IN PEER-TO-PEER NETWORKS / Martti Vakkala, Marketing Chief, Viralg Oy
DIGITAL RIGHTS MANAGEMENT (DRM) AND CASES OF MUSIC DISTRIBUTION / Ben Mellin, CEO, Secury Cast Oy
A PANEL DISCUSSION ON COPYRIGHTS OF FILMS
- Lasse Saarinen, chairman of the Society of Finnish Film Producers
- Mika Taanila, film director
- Jukka Liedes, director, Ministry of Culture
- Ville Oksanen, researcher at the Polytechnic University, chairman of the Electronic Frontier Finland
- Leif Lindblad, CEO, Sandrew Metronome Distribution Finland
- Martti Vakkala, Marketing Chief, Viralg Oy
- Lassi Tasajärvi, Project Manager, Provisual Oy
...
Of this impressive seminar, one of the most memorable topics was the complex mechanism of internet piracy, very hard to fight.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

MOLSKIS / PLUMS EXHIBITION

SPLASH - FINNISH FILM COMEDY EXHIBITION. Opening gala at the Jugendsali, North Esplanade, Helsinki, 21 April 2005. Artistic director: Kai Vase. Jugendsali is a beautiful hall in high National Romantic Style. The history of Finnish film comedy from 1907 to the present in charming stills, lobby cards, posters, trailers, and excerpts. The main opening speakers were the producer-director-writer Jörn Donner, chairman of the cultural board of the city of Helsinki, and Ere Kokkonen, the director of dozens of hugely popular comedies. The incompatibility of the duo was an instance of comedy, itself. The main discovery of the project was the fact that almost half of the 1150 Finnish feature films are comedies or include comic elements. The most prominent tradition is broad farce, but there is also a vein of sophisticated comedy. The comic acting talent has always been abundant, as documented by the exhibition. The question was raised how many of the films do fulfill the promise of the good time presented by the stills and exhibits, which are funny, indeed.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Gouttes d'eau sur pierres brûlantes

Water Drops on Burning Rocks. FR (c) 1999 Fidélité Productions / Les Films Alain Sarde. D+SC: Francois Ozon - based on the posthumous play Tropfen auf heisse Steine by R.W. Fassbinder. DP: Jeanne Lapoire - colour, 1,66. PD: Arnaud de Moleron. M: "Träume" perf. Francoise Hardy; Mahler: Fourth Symphony; Händel: Zadok the Priest; Verdi: Requiem - Dies Irae; "Tanze Samba mit mir" perf. Tony Holiday; "Vor der Tür wird nicht geküsst" perf. Susi Dorée. Starring Bernard Giraudeau (Léopold), Ludivine Sagnier (Anna), Malik Zidi (Franz), Anna Levine (Véra). 85 min. Photochemical impact. A brilliant Celluloid Dreams print with English subtitles by Sionann O'Neill. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 19 April 2005. Ozon is a chameleon, and here he assumes the Fassbinder guise. It does look and feel like a Fassbinder film of the Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant period, although it is based on a play RWF wrote when he was 19 years old. It is a tragic chamber piece. The only location is the home of the bisexual 50-something Léopold who seduces the 20-something Franz. Much later, also Franz's girlfriend is caught in Léopold's magnetic sexual web. And it turns out that Véra used to be Léopold's boyfriend who changed his sex to please him. It's a story of desire and lovelessness. Franz's loveless mother is only a voice on the phone. Worth considering in Fassbinder retrospectives. - Ludivine Sagnier became an Ozon regular. She takes obvious pleasure in her nude beauty, as does the audience.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

INTERSECTIONS OF WORD AND IMAGE, FIRST WEEKEND

LEIKKAUKSIA ELÄVÄSTÄ SANASTA ELÄVÄÄN KUVAAN I. Orion, Helsinki, 15-17 April 2005 (first weekend). The Nuoren Voiman Liitto society of young poets and writers arranges a film event during two weekends. The concept: writers meet the cinema.

Friday 15 April 2005
THREE SHORT SILENTS ACCOMPANIED BY POETS
Photo-Drama of Creation (FR/US 1904-1914) non-fiction on sacred rituals in Japan, China, and India / accompanied by poet Mikko Myllylahti
Entr'acte (FR 1924, René Clair) the Dadaist short / accompanied by poet Eino Santanen
At Land (US 1944, Maya Deren) American avantgardist short / accompanied by poet Saila Susiluoto
This unique experiment was quite successful. The initiative came from the poets, themselves, and they carried it out very effectively. This is a new development of the original commentator / lecturer / benshi / musical accompaniment practice.

Saturday 16 April 2005
SANNA NYQVIST LECTURE: HENRY PARLAND: THE WRITTEN IMAGE
A fascinating 90 min lecture on Henry Parland, the 1920s Finnish Modernist who wrote in Swedish and was also a visionary film essayist. One of his topics was Brigitte Helm. After the lecture, Brigitte Helm's Die wunderbare Lüge der Nina Petrowna was screened in the luminous restored 1999 version to the Maurice Jaubert music.

Sunday 17 April 2005
ANTTI NYLEN LECTURE: ECRITURE AND ROBERT BRESSON
An excellent view of the film form and the serious substance of Bresson, with many excerpts from the films. Finland has been a great Bresson land for a long time, also reflected in this event. After the lecture, Au hasard Balthazar was screened in a brilliant print.

http://www.nuorenvoimanliitto.fi/nvl/index.html

JUKKA KORTTI LECTURE: COMMERCIALS AND INDUSTRIAL DESIGN

Orion, Helsinki, 15 April 2005. A lecture with dozens of commercials, mostly Finnish and American, covering the history of both design and marketing. Commercials have often been in the vanguard of design and cinematic innovations. Of the Finnish highlights, Eino Ruutsalo's abstract commercials and the 1960s laconic Finnish Shell spots stand out.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Les Amants criminels

Criminal Lovers. FR / JP (c) 1999 Fidélité Productions / Le Studio Canal+ / Arte France Cinéma / Euro Space Japan. P: Oliver Delbosc, Marc Missionnier. D+SC: Francois Ozon. Poem "Nuit d'enfer" (Arthur Rimbaud). DP: Pierre Stoeber. PD: Frédérique Chauvineau. M: Philippe Rombi. M themes from Wagner ("Liebestod"), Vivaldi (adagio from Symphony in C minor for strings). Starring Natacha Régnier (Alice), Jérémie Rénier (Luc), Miki Manjolovic (the man in the forest), Salim Kechiouche (Saïd). 96 min. A good Celluloid Dreams print with English subtitles by Sionann O'Neill. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 14 April, 2005. Two high school lovers murder their classmate Saïd, get lost in the wood and trapped in a violent hermit's cabin. It's about blood and sex, hetero- and homosexual. Completely different from Tarantino, in the tradition of Honeymoon Killers, John Waters, and David Lynch, maybe, but different from them, as well. The strange animal inserts remind us of The Night of the Hunter. Technically apt, yet I have a hard time connecting on any level.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Die wunderbare Lüge der Nina Petrowna / The Wonderful Lie of Nina Petrovna (1999 FWMS / Bundesarchiv / L'Immagine Ritrovata / ARTE restoration with the Maurice Jaubert score)



Ihmeellinen valhe / Den underbara lögnen. DE 1929. PC: Erich Pommer-Produktion der Ufa. P: Erich Pommer. D: Hanns Schwarz. SC: Hans Szekely. DP: Carl Hoffmann. PD: Robert Herlth, Walter Röhrig. Costumes: René Hubert. M for cinema orchestra: Maurice Jaubert.
    Starring Brigitte Helm (Nina Petrovna), Franz Lederer (Lt. Michael Rostov), Warwick Ward (Colonel).
    3018 m /24 fps/ 109 min.
    The brilliant 1999 Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung / Bundesarchiv restoration at L'Immagine Ritrovata commissioned by ARTE with the Maurice Jaubert score.
    A dazzling print from FWMS, e-subtitles in Finnish by Antti Alanen operated by Mickael Suominen. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 12 April 2005.

I knew this film from the magnificent Erich Pommer retrospective in Berlin 1989. Now the restoration from the original negative and the impressive Maurice Jaubert score greatly enhance the experience.

The film can be compared with Mizoguchi, Stroheim and Ophuls. It is a story of love with a tough sense of money. Liebe als Ware: love as merchandise. She saves her lover's life and sacrifices her own. A tough yet not cynical story: she wins the moral victory over the brutal colonel and the innocent lieutenant.

Interestingly, the two great German stars Brigitte Helm and Marlene Dietrich both had their breakthrough in an Erich Pommer production, and both left Germany, refusing to work under the Hitler regime.

Most memorably, this is a feat of cinematography, brilliantly realized by Carl Hoffmann: the mobile camera, the long tracking shots, the powerful close-ups and inserts, the smooth superimpositions and transitions, the judicious effects. There are several ca 5 minutes long sequences without words.

The objects are significant: clocks, shoes, flowers, playing cards, jewels. One important line is that of electric light (shut off), fire (lit and extinguished), and candles (burnt out at the end).

The excellent Maurice Jaubert score includes a waltz love theme, a military theme, and a motif of time.

There is some over-acting acceptable as pantomime. ****

Monday, April 11, 2005

Tuntematon sotilas (1985)



Okänd soldat / The Unknown Soldier. FI 1985. PC: Arctic-Filmi. P+D: Rauni Mollberg. Assistant directors: Veikko Aaltonen, Seppo Heinonen. SC: Rauni Mollberg, Väinö Linna, Veikko Aaltonen - based on the novel by Linna (1954). DP: Esa Vuorinen. PD: Ensio Suominen. Sound: Tuomo Kattilakoski, Oscari Viskari. Sound editing: Matti Kuortti, Olli Soinio; Lars Klettner.
    Starring Risto Tuorila (Koskela), Pirkka-Pekka Petelius (Hietanen), Paavo Liski (Rokka), Mika Mäkelä (Rahikainen), Pertti Koivula (Lahtinen), Tero Niva (Vanhala), Ossi-Ensio Korvuo (Määttä), Mikko Niskanen [not the director] (Salo), Pauli Poranen (Lehto), Hannu Kivioja (Riitaoja), Juha Riihimäki (Sihvonen) Seppo Siivonen (Suen Tassu), Timo Virkki (Honkajoki), Vesa Ala-Seppälä (Hauhia), Kari Väänänen (Lammio), Pekka Ketonen (Kariluoto), Veikko Tiitinen (Kaarna), Matti Nurminen (Sarastie), Olavi Levula (Karjula), Martti Kainulainen (Korsumäki), Jaakko Kuusisaari (Mäkilä), Erkki Hetta (Viirilä), Markku Lukka (Ukkola), Risto Salmi (Korpela). 199 min.
    This screening 195 min. A clean and intact print.
    In the presence of Olli Soinio, Matti Kuortti, Tuomo Kattilakoski, and Risto Salmi.
    Viewed at Domino, Turku Festival of Finnish Film, 10 April 2005.

There are different versions of this film; this is the official cinema version; there is also a five-hour television version. Previously I had seen the tv version only. In the 1980s it was the thing in Finland to redo the big classics, The Unknown Soldier and The Seven Brothers: to take away the drama, the wit, the humour, and put young unknown actors there to open the well-known texts afresh. Here the apparent intention was to do the anti-Laine version.

The film is darkly lit, handheld camera is much in evidence, the dialogue is muffled, the approach is undramatic, humour is avoided. However, there is not as much naturalistic and grotesque footage as one might have suspected.

Scenes more effective here include the crossing of the river during the attack, the occupation of Petroskoi, and the frenzy of the retreat.

Characters present here but not with Laine include Lieutenant Colonel Karjula, private Viirilä, and WAC Kotilainen.

Of the main characters Petelius as Hietanen and Väänänen as Lammio stand out as not weaker than the interpretation in the film of Laine.

Undoubtedly superior in this film is the sound, which is often genuinely frightening, adding much to the whole. As the cinematography is dark and the faces often unrecognizable, the impact of the sound is all the greater.

Patarouva (1959) / Queen of Spades


Patarouva. Kastehelmi Seppälä, the Queen of Spades (Elina Salo), and judge Kaius Kannisto (Pehr-Olof Sirén).

Spaderdam / Queen of Spades. FI 1959. PC: Kurkvaara-Filmi. P+D+SC+DP+ED: Maunu Kurkvaara – based on the novel by Oiva Paloheimo (1956). PD: Olavi Hänninen. M: Leonid Bashmakov.
    Starring Pehr-Olof Sirén (judge Kaius Kannisto), Sinikka Hannula (Pia Tiensuu, queen of clubs), Liana Leskinen (Katriina, queen of diamonds), Leni Katajakoski (Eeva, queen of hearts), Elina Salo (Kastehelmi, queen of spades), Santeri Karilo (Julius Kannisto). 96 min.
    Swedish subtitles by Bengt Pihlström.
    Viewed at Domino, Turku Festival of Finnish Film, 10 April 2005.

One of the early films of the Finnish new wave, produced with a light touch and a light production team, designed by Olavi Hänninen. Free love in a way unseen in traditional Finnish cinema. The story of the playboy lawyer and his four flames. The women are very attractive while the lawyer is smug and boring. Technically, the playback sound has an unintentionally alienating effect.

LENI KATAJAKOSKI COMMERCIALS

Lux. FI 1961. PC: Filmitalo. Starring Leni Katajakoski. B&w. 15"
Rexona - kuin kukka / Rexona - Like a Flower. FI 1957. PC: Fennada. Starring Leni Katajakoski. 2'+. Colour. Swedish subtitles
Sun Silk. FI 1956. PC: Finlandia Kuva. Starring Leni Katajakoski. 2'20". Colour
Ristiveikkaus. FI 1957. PC: Allotria. Starring Leni Katajakoski. 1'. Colour
Viewed at Domino, Turku Film Festival, 10 April 2005.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Kolmiapila

Treklövern / [Triple Clover]. FI 1953. PC: Fennada. P: Mauno Mäkelä. D: Esko Töyri, Kyllikki Forssell, Roland af Hällström. SC: Kaarlo Nuorvala. DP: Esko Töyri, Unto Kumpulainen. PD: Kai Lappalainen. M: Tauno Pylkkänen. "Tietäni yksin", "Kasvoi kerran kalliolla", "On harhaa sydämeni haaveuni" sung by Leif Wager. ED: Nils Holm. Starring Eeva-Kaarina Volanen (Eeva, wife of Olavi), Leif Wager (Jorma the singer-songwriter), Tauno Palo (Olavi the doctor), Leena Häkinen (Marja), Jussi Jurkka (Janne), Sirkka-Liisa Wilén (Irmeli the wife of Olli), Matti Ranin (Olli the student of technology), Irma Seikkula (head of the children's home), Laina Laine (mother of Jorma), Rauha Rentola (Kaisu), Toivo Mäkelä (the drunkard), Saara Ranin (the drunkard's wife). 81 min. Swedish subtitles. A glistening nitrate print. Presented by Kyllikki Forssell. Viewed at Domino, Turku Festival of Finnish Film, 9 April 2005. An omnibus story of three "lost children" inspected by a childless couple. Quite a range of acting talent in a strongly emotional film with a lot of Zeitgeist interest about the "baby boom" era after WWII. Töyri directed the story of the criminal's girlfriend, Forssell the comically starting story of the young inventor, and Hällström the story of the philandering songwriter. Tauno Palo is the good guy this time, and Leif Wager gets to play the playboy.

Ylijäämänainen

Stulen kärlek / [Stolen Love]. FI 1951. PC: Fennada. P: Mauno Mäkelä. D: Roland af Hällström. SC: Jussi Talvi. DP: Esko Töyri. PD: Ville Hänninen. M: Tapio Ilomäki. "Otshi tshornie", also sung by Tauno Palo ("Mustat silmät"). ED: Armas Laurinen. Location: Stockmann Department Store. Starring Asta Backman (Laura Kari), Tauno Palo (Lennart Qvist), Kyllikki Forssell (Ella Qvist), Saara Ranin (Alli Ikäheimo). 77 min. Swedish subtitles. Glimmering nitrate print with a good definition of light. Presented by Kyllikki Forssell. Viewed at Domino, Turku Festival of Finnish Film, 9 April 2005. "Finn noir" with strong visualization by Hällström. High melodrama about a man playing with the hearts of women. The heroine is a department store clerk, also fighting a manager's unwanted advances. Good actors, violent turns, exciting montages, expressive images and objects, Zeitgeist appeal in a story covering the years 1939 till the present.

Tukkijoella (1928) Film Concert Turku

Stockflötarna / Log River. FI 1928. PC: Suomi-Filmi. P+SC: Erkki Karu - based on the musical comedy by Teuvo Pakkala (1899) with music by Oskar Merikanto. D: Axel Slangus, Wilho Ilmari. DP: Frans Ekebom. PD: Carl Fager. M for the cinemas arranged by Emil Kauppi. ED: Axel Slangus, Frans Ekebom. Starring Urho Somersalmi (Turkka), Ellen Sylvin (Pietolan Katri), Mary Spennert-Hannikainen (Anni), Litja Ilmari (Pahna-Maija), Olga Salo (Leena), Kirsti Suonio (Maija Rivakka), Eino Salmela (rättäri), Paavo Costiander (Huotari), Ossi Korhonen (Pölhö-Kustaa), Heikki Välisalmi (Tolari). 2852 m /24 fps/ 103 min. Finnish / Swedish intertitles.

Print with colour toning from the 2005 restoration by Suomen elokuva-arkisto. Mostly a very beautiful print, with some shots in low contrast. Screening with a sound gate at Domino, Turku Festival of Finnish Film, 9 April 2005.

THE FILM CONCERT with Sami Pirttilahti (accordeon), Eerika Mylläri (accordeon), Heikki Hämäläinen (cello). The selection of the instruments was inspired, but the erratic musical programme missed the point, completely ignoring Merikanto, who composed many great tunes for the play, lyrics of which are quoted in the intertitles.

THE FILM is the first of three cinema adaptations of Finlands most popular musical play (besides Jääkärin morsian). It was realized as a silent film, but one can safely assume that the live musical performances based on Emil Kauppi and Oskar Merikanto have been a large contribution to its success. This film is anyway the weakest of the three. The manuscript misses important points, the direction and the montage are clumsy, but as a showcase of major talents it is fascinating for Finnish viewers (only?).

Saturday, April 09, 2005

TURKU FESTIVAL OF FINNISH FILM 9-10 APRIL

The Turku Festival of Finnish Film took place 7-10 April at Cinema Domino. I got there on Saturday morning, 9 April. Memorable besides the events registered in the entries below:
1. VEIKKO AALTONEN presented his documentary film Työväenluokka (Arbetarklassen / The Working Class, 2004), part of his trilogy also including Maa (Jorden / Earth, 2001 - on farmers), and Paimenet (Herdarna, The Shepherds, 2005, on priests).
2. RAUNI MOLLBERG, VEIKKO AALTONEN, TUOMO KATTILAKOSKI at lunch at the Musta Rudolf restaurant by the Aurajoki river.
3. RAUNI MOLLBERG presented his television mini-series Siunattu hulluus (Välsignade galenskapen / Blessed Madness, 1975). In his ambitious tv drama productions Mollberg is at his best. This one was shown as a video projection.
4. KYLLIKKI FORSSELL, at 80, was in great form. In her first presentation she reminisced about her early years in the film industry, her participation in the 1960s new wave, and her work with Kaisa Rastimo. Her second presentation was about her theatre career. "There is no actor in Finland who cannot imitate Edvin Laine", she said. There were at the Finnish National Theatre the actors "belonging" to Kivimäki, Witikka, Ilmari, or Laine. She belonged to the Laine actors. Laine wanted to build actors by giving them different and ambitious roles. Forssell was one of the first to wear jeans in the 1950s. "Herra Jumala tuota Kyllikkiä kun se kulkee noin kireissä housuissa" ("My God, how that Kyllikki is wearing such tight pants"): this is where we heard Forssell do her Edvin Laine imitation. At Svenska Teatern, the Swedish Theatre of Helsinki, Forssell was asked to play in Gustaf III by Strindberg. As it turned out that she was offered the title role she asked to think it over. She studied the character, and the next day she said yes: "It turned out we have one thing in common: we both like boys".
5. VEIKKO AALTONEN presented Milka (1980), a film ahead of its time, he said, modern in its means. There were two trailers before the screening:
6. MAA ON SYNTINEN LAULU TRAILER (Jorden är en syndfull sång trailer / The Earth Is a Sinful Song trailer, 1973)
7. TUNTEMATON SOTILAS TRAILER (Okänd soldat trailer / The Unknown Soldier trailer, 1985)
8. LENI KATAJAKOSKI presented Kaks' tavallista Lahtista (Två vanliga killar / Two Ordinary Guys, 1960). She was a bright young blonde in the films of the 1950s and the 1960s. Found at a beauty contest, she came to the movies. "There were many funny incidents, which I cannot repeat here". Later she was 20 years an actress at the Seinäjoki Theatre, "which had a good ensemble", and she got to act the full range of different roles. Many of her films she now considers plain stupid.
9. OLLI SOINIO, TUOMO KATTILAKOSKI, and MATTI KUORTTI at lunch at the Bossa restaurant next to the Market Square. We discussed the various release versions of Mollberg's The Unknown Soldier.
10. TUNTEMATON SOTILAS TRAILER (Okänd soldat trailer / The Unknown Soldier trailer, 1956) 4 min - the trailer produced after the 1956 Berlin Film Festival, including some of its footage, many memorable scenes from the film for comparison with Mollberg's film

KAISA RASTIMO: CINEMA AND DESIGN

Orion, Helsinki, 8 April 2005. Kaisa Rastimo gave a lecture on design from the viewpoint of the film director. There are in her opinion directors who have a consistent design in all their films. Another group of directors has in their films a strong but different design based on the subject; she sees herself as belonging to this second group (together with Coppola, Scorsese, etc.). Design has been essential in her film-making ever since her first student film, Laura's Room. She analyzed design in all stages of the film-making process: screenplay, pre-production, production and costume design, principal production, graphic design, marketing, and merchandizing. She told there is great interest in Japan in her film Heinähattu and Vilttitossu because of the design aspect. In more detail, she presented the 1930s period design of her film Säädyllinen murhenäytelmä.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Magnificent Doll



Kruunaamaton kuningatar / Okrönt drottning. US © 1946 Hallmark Productions. Presented by Jack H. Skirball and Bruce Manning. D: Frank Borzage. SC: Irving Stone. DP: Joseph Valentine. PD: Alexander Golitzen, Jack Otterson. Costumes: Travis Banton, Vera West. M: H. J. Salter.
    Starring Ginger Rogers (Dorthea "Dolley" Payne Madison), David Niven (Aaron Burr), Burgess Meredith (James Madison), Grandon Rhodes (Thomas Jefferson). 102 min.
    A low contrast 16 mm print of 95 min.
    Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 7 April 2005.

A Ginger Rogers project based on the screenplay by Irving Stone. Dolley Madison was an early strong lady of the White House, a forerunner in the iron line leading to Hillary Clinton, immortalized cinematically by the Queen of Diamonds in The Manchurian Candidate (Angela Lansbury, Meryl Streep). No Lady Macbeth, Dolley Madison is the benevolent force in the early turbulent years of the United States.

The picture covers the years of the first four presidents. Madison, the Father of the Constitution, was the Secretary of State during President Jefferson (number three), and became himself the fourth President of the USA. The dramatic conflict is between him and Aaron Burr, his rival in both private and political life.

Burr is ready to throw away the President with arms but is put to prison and given a trial. A lynch mob is not happy with the verdict of not guilty, but Dolley saves Burr from hanging by giving a rousing speech.

While not a masterpiece, recommended for those interested in U.S. history and Ginger Rogers. Reasons to appreciate it:

(1) The production is handsome.
(2) Ginger Rogers is strong and sensual.
(3) Burgess Meredith is up to the task as President.
(3) David Niven is at his best in a strong, dark role.
(4) The finale is powerful as Dolley comes to meet Burr in prison and saves him from the mob. It's an anthology piece.

What does Borzage bring to this? The vibrant close-ups of Ginger Rogers, the sincerity of the discourse of freedom, and the opposition to lynch justice are essential Borzage. This film belongs to the common ground of Borzage and Ford. Interestingly, Ginger Rogers became a forerunner of the Hollywood Black List, while Borzage and Ford opposed it.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Smilin' Through



Kerran elämässä / En gång i livet. US © 1941 Loew's, Inc. PC: MGM. D: Frank Borzage. SC: Donald Ogden Stewart, John L. Balderston – based on the play by Jane Cowl and Jane Murfin (1919). DP: Leonard Smith – Technicolor. PD: Cedric Gibbons, Edwin B. Willis. Costumes: Adrian. Songs:
    "Smilin' Through" (1918 Penn)
    "The Kerry Dance" (1875 trad. / Molloy)
    "Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes" (1616 Melish / Ben Jonson)
    "Ouvre ton coeur" (Bizet / Louis Delâtre)
    "There's A Long, Long Trail (Awinding)" (1915 Elliott / King)
    "Land Of Hope And Glory" (1901 Elgar / Arthur C. Benson) etc. sung by Jeanette MacDonald and her voice double Lorraine Bridges.
    Starring Jeanette MacDonald (Kathleen / Moonyean), Brian Aherne (Sir John Carteret), Gene Raymond (Kenneth / Jeremy Wayne), Ian Hunter (Reverend Owen Harding). 100 min.
    Musical / melodrama from WWI in England.
    A clean, fresh, good dupe.
    Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 6 April 2005.

The hard MGM gloss is somewhat oppressive in Borzage's first colour film. Thick pancake makeup for Technicolor leads to loss of sensitivity and vibration in Jeanette MacDonald's face. She has the dual role as the dead bride and as the orphan girl whose parents died in a shipwreck. The classical numbers (Bizet, Elgar) are the best. Mostly the film fails to come alive, but the "falling in love" scene in the ghost house is somewhat better.

Borzagean connections:
    (1) The lost generation theme obviously strikes a chord (see also A Farewell to Arms, Humoresque, and Three Comrades).
    (2) The presence of the beloved as a ghost all through the life Sir Carteret (Brian Aherne).
    (3) The hero comes back from the war a cripple (as in Humoresque, Seventh Heaven and Lucky Star).
    (4) The profoundly romantic substance: this was the favourite and "life film" of the wife-husband-team Jeanette MacDonald and Gene Raymond, their only film together; they realized the idea of true love in their own lives.
    (5) The film as an act of solidarity to the fighting England. Borzage hated war, yet always supported fight for freedom against tyranny. Although this is about WWI, the connection to the actual war in 1941 is strong.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Spanish Main



Punaisin purjein / Under blodröda segel. US © 1945 RKO. D: Frank Borzage. SC: George Worthing Yates, Herman J. Mankiewicz, from a story by Aeneas MacKenzie. DP: George Barnes – Technicolor. PD: Albert S. D'Agostino, Carroll Clark. FX: Vernon Walker. Costumes by Edward Stevenson. M: Hanns Eisler.
    Starring Maureen O'Hara (Francisca), Paul Henreid (Barracuda), Walter Slezak (Don Alvarado), Binnie Barnes (Anne Bonny), John Emery (Mario Da Bilar), Barton MacLane (Captain Benjamin Black), Mike Mazurki (Swaine). 104 min.
    This print 100 min, a clean, serviceable colour dupe.
    Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 5 April 2005.

Paul Henreid's smug mug is the main problem of the swashbuckler. Maureen O'Hara is good, but her pancake makeup eliminates any vibration. Binnie Barnes is the best attraction as the female pirate Anne Bonny, the character later portrayed by Jean Peters (Anne of the Indies) and Geena Davis (Cutthroat Island). Many colourful, overblown villains: Walter Slezak as the most evil of them all. Borzage is at his best in the romantic triangle of Francisca / Barracuda / Anne Bonny. On her wedding night Francisca is expecting the pirate to attack... but to her disappointment she is left in peace!

Ludwig, Requiem für einen jungfräulichen König

Ludwig - Requiem for a Virgin King / Ludwig - requiem neitsytkuninkaalle / Ludwig - requiem för en jungfrukung. Teil 1: Der Fluch. Teil 2: Ich war einmal. DE 1972. PC: TMS Film GmbH / Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen. D+SC: Hans Jürgen Syberberg. DP: Dietrich Lohmann. FX: Theon Nischwitz. PD: Chr. Dank, J. Hofmann, H. Döll, A. Quaglio, G. Dehn, H. Breling. Costumes by Barbara Baum, Chris Wilhelm. Make-up: Sybille Danzer, Wolfgang Schnurflein. M: Richard Wagner, conductors: Wilhelm Furtwängler (Tristan und Isolde, Lohengrin), Herbert von Karajan (Rheingold, Siegfried, Götterdämmerung). ED: Peter Przygodda. Starring Harry Baer (Ludwig II), Ingrid Caven (Lola Montez), Oskar von Schab (Karl May), Edgar Murray (Winnetou), Gerhard Maertz (Richard Wagner). 134 min. A brilliant print with e-subtitles in Finnish by Christoffer von Bonsdorff / Pro Kontext. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 5 April 2005. SYBERBERG (BFI / EDINBURGH 1992): "That Syberberg chose to call his film a requiem was not merely because he wished to dedicate an epitaph to a dead king, however much Ludwig may still live in the popular imagination. The requiem referred more to a closed, aesthetic system, with analogies to music and musical forms, and to the director's concept of film as the music of the future. It was intended as a break away from the accepted view of film, the dialogue and action film, the techniques of commercial cinema dominated by Hollywood."
"As his alternative Syberberg worked with monologue-like speech, using block forms, still camerawork, unmoving tableaux, original opera sets as backdrops, epic clarity, alienation, irony and pathos, underlined by his use of music."
"The film is divided into two parts and chapters. The first part, The Curse, begins with the opening bars of Rhinegold. The curse of the three Norns and the curse of Lola Montez are cast on Ludwig and the Wittelsbacher. Central to the first part of the film is the handling of the Ludwig-Elisabeth (Sissi) sequence. Elisabeth of Austria warns Ludwig of the consequences of his self-immersion into Wagner which proves the cause of Ludwig's spiritual death. The second part of the film, Once Upon A Time I Was, deals with the nightmarish world finally surrounding Ludwig, projections of his own fantasies and at the same time projections of a frightening reality. Forced into the recognition of a new German Empire, with the Prussian King and Bismarck at its head, and the consequences it was to unfold for Europe, compelled to break with Wagner, drawn more and more into the isolation of unrealizable fantasies, we see the final death of Ludwig and his resurrection as a modern folk-hero. To the final bars of Wagner's Twilight of the Gods Ludwig as a child, with beard and moustache, emerges from the mists of Erda's earth grotto. The sublime and the Kitsch meet and are unified."
"Ludwig dies three deaths in the film, the classical royal death, the public, official death, and his spiritual death, a Liebestod. The stations of his life are recalled, the outward, historical stations such as the collaboration with Wagner, the building of his castles and palaces, the constitutional crises, European affairs, his antagonism to the growth of industrialism and Prussia; but also inner stations, the realization of fantastic landscapes, the flight from external manifestations of reality, and their 20th century consequences. The film is a complex visual, aural and historical collage. It is the story of a failed Utopia. Wagner, the three Norns, Ludwig XIV are as much part of this world as Hitler and the industrial civilization of our century. Physically and metaphysically they stand side by side."
OWN COMMENTS AFTER THE FILM: Having seen Ludwig, Hitler, and Parsifal in one week I'm impressed by the wealth and the depth of the cultural web of the films, and also by the often elegant and humoristic touch. Without a heavy production machine Syberberg handles material usually treated in epics and spectacles. Ludwig I may have watched more distractedly than the others, which is why it's wiser to postpone judgement. Syberberg belongs to the great essayists of the cinema together with Guitry, Welles, and Godard. He is also a good self-analyst; his own description above is quite illuminating.
Note: as in Parsifal, Wagner here is portrayed by a man and a woman.
http://www.syberberg.de

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Parsifal

DE / FR 1982. PC: TMS Film GmbH / Bayerischer Rundfunk / Gaumont. D+SC: Hans Jürgen Syberberg - based on the Bühnenweihfestspiel by Richard Wagner (1882) - based on the epic poems by Wolfram von Eschenbach and Chrétien de Troyes. DP: Igor Luther. PD: Werner Achmann. Sculptures: Rudolf Vincent Rotter. Puppets: Atelier Stummer & Barbara Buchwald. Paintings: Johann Ploner. Miniatures: Flo Nordhoff. Costumes: Veronica Dorn, Hella Wolter, Moidele Bickel. M performed by the Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Prague Philharmonic Choir, conducted by Armin Jordan. M recording: Erato.
Actors / singers:
AMFORTAS: Armin Jordan / Wolfgang Schöne
TITUREL: Martin Sperr / Hans Tschammer
GURNEMANZ: Robert Lloyd
PARSIFAL: David Luther (child), Michael Kutter, Karen Krick / Rainer Goldberg
KLINGSOR: Aage Haugland
KUNDRY: Edith Clever / Yvonne Minton
255 min (I act ca 110 min, intermission, II-III acts ca 145 min). Opera film / film opera. A Hans Jürgen Syberberg print, e-subtitles in Finnish by Pekka Asikainen, operated by Pirjo Brech. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 3 April 2005. SYBERBERG: "My aim is the continuation of Wagner with other means: to make audible what has never been seen and visible what has never been heard. Images inspired by music can contribute to the resonating spirit of this world which stems from the most beautiful invention available to the inner eye. It is in the wistful look of love, in the redemptive serenity which springs from the heart-blood of longing, which Richard Wagner always talked about". SYBERBERG (BFI / EDINBURGH 1992): Parsifal, the allegorical bearer of redemption, is divided into man and woman. MARTTI-TAPIO KUUSKOSKI: Wagner's philosophical testament is today more valid than ever. It prophesies the "end of ideology". The play (more than an opera: a new genre of drama) begins in the ruins of Bayreuth after WWII. Parsifal enters Klingsor's magic garden and passes the panorama of abused utopias (images from Delacroix, Leonardo, Goya). By Klingsor's throne are littered the heads of his victims: Marx, Nietzsche, Aischylus, Wagner, Ludwig II. Puppet theatre is one of the hallmarks of Syberberg's art. The stage is a giant head of Wagner where even the Grail is hidden. The music of the images is based on the faces and the looks, from Amfortas's look of pain to Kundry's noble and redemptive look of love directed to the viewer. This film started the long Edith Clever period in Syberberg's cinema.
OWN COMMENTS IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE FILM: Certainly one of the most original and profoundly felt operas in the medium of the cinema. More than an adaptation, this is Wagnerian thinking, feeling and creation.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Hitler, ein Film aus Deutschland, Teil IV: Wir Kinder der Hölle

Hitler, elokuva Saksasta IV: Me helvetin lapset / Hitler, a Film from Germany IV: We Children of Hell. Wir Kinder der Hölle erinnern uns an das Zeitalter des Graals / We Children of Hell Reminiscence the Age of the Grail. For credits see 29 March. 105 min. Brilliant 35mm print, e-subtitles in Finnish by Pirjo Brech. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 31 March. SYBERBERG: "The film is in the form of a long, shared closing monologue, overlaid by projections and sound documents. The narrator (André Heller) reflects on Hitler's life, and the formulation of his ideas: Hitler, heir to the Hapsburg Emperors and the Holy Roman Empire, the personification of Germany, defeated by foreign ideas of democracy and republicanism; the strength of belief, the triumph subjugated by alien ideas of representation. Hitler as Siegfried, in a world beset by enemies, a man who had set down in advance all his plans, for everyone to read, but which nobody took seriously. Hitler as catharsis of European history; or melting pot and medium for the spirit of his age, merely a mirror of our own dreams and passions.
The second narrator (Harry Baer) takes up the monologue. The Hitler dummy lies nearby. He examines the models that served as inspiration for Hitler: Rome; Britain; the idea of racial purity, of a chosen people, which he took from the Jews, who had waited 2000 years for the regaining of their lost Jerusalem.
The Mayor of Berchtesgaden announces the opening of a Hitler museum at which thousands of tourists are expected, just as they flock to Ludwig II's castles. The mayor performs a suggestive dance with the director of tourism. They protest their political innocence and declare their aim to be merely the development of tourism and entertainment. They maintain that business is the freedom of democracy, and Hitler is the greatest star in show business. Quality is determined democratically at the box office. Together they walk through the new park, pause at a long flight of steps and break out in a hymn at the sight of the shop window models of the Nazi past.
The first narrator returns. He describes how Hitler and Speer had planned a victory celebration for 1950 in Berlin, how it will now be realized in our modern version of our Disneyland, the final victory of hell, with the Hitler in us.
Again we see the little girl draped in black. She wanders through a row of gallows. We hear the last report from the German armed forces. Projections of Speer's architecture appear, and the charred corpse of Goebbels. The little girl takes the toy dog in her hand, drags it behind her on the ground as she walks away. She passes between photo-figures of the 1920s, beneath the hanging body of Goebbels.
The narration draws to its close. There follows a description of a great victory celebration which is attended by Hitler and his associates displaying their death wounds. All the persecuted, the crippled, dead, Nazis and their families, hangers-on, appear at this celebration in an endless procession.
The narrator accuses the Hitler dummy of being responsible for the trivialization of the old German values. Hitler as the bane of the Western world, destroyer of our language, was responsible for the victory of materialism and the spiritual diaspora, in which the Germans ceased to exist. In the quest for his paradise, another was lost.
In the end everything will collapse into the black hole of the future. The young girl stands, eyes closed, still holding the Hitler dog. A deep split appears in the landscape of the beginning, from which a tear hangs; in the tear sits the child. The stars fly towards us, and amidst it all appears the symbol of the Grail, the silence of Melancholy." (BFI Catalogue for the Edinburgh Film Festival 1992)
http://www.syberberg.de
Admirable audacity in tackling a subject often defined as beyond understanding. For example, Ron Rosenbaum in his excellent book, Explaining Hitler comes to the conclusion that Hitler cannot be explained. In strictly rational terms this may be true. Which is why it is essential to take a wider perspective and examine the mythology which inspired Hitler and his followers.
Syberberg takes the Wagner in Hitler seriously.
And the Karl May in Hitler.
And the Spear of Longinus / the Grail myth of imperial power.
He understands the awe towards Jews behind Hitler's persecution of Jews.
The Jewish source beyond the Grail.
All this may be a bit too much of historians of the "wie es eigentlich geschehen" tradition with a strict adherence to written documents. Hitler avoided written documents whenever possible, and destroyed existing documents whenever possible.
The sound documents are well selected. Among the most memorable is the record of the transmission of German soldiers in Stalingrad, the North Sea, etc. singing "Silent Night, Holy Night" in a direct radio transmission at Christmas.
The long descriptions of Hitler's everyday life help understand how it really happened.
Syberberg also takes the cinema enthusiasm of Hitler seriously.
Hitler was a film-maker of Germany, who wanted to become a film-maker of the world.
"I was a prophet, and you laughed at me, but who's laughing now?" (He meant the Jews.)
Hitler made of Germany a film in his own image. Syberberg answers by making a film of Hitler, simultaneously a reflection on the history of cinema starting from Edison's Black Maria. As essential as Godard's Histoire(s) du cinéma.