Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Oberhausen Manifesto 1

Screened with e-subtitles in English (SDK), operated by Lena Talvio, Cinema Orion, Helsinki (The Oberhausen Manifesto), 12 March 2013

Curated by Olaf Möller, based on the Oberhausen retrospective Provokation der Wirklichkeit: 50 Jahre Oberhausener Manifest (2012) curated by Ralph Eue und Olaf Möller. Programme notes: 58. Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen 26. April–1. Mai 2012: Oberhausener Manifest 1962. Festival Catalogue.

A new era is dawning! More than any other important film-historical document of those years, the Oberhausen Manifesto marks a radical break – with an aesthetic, with a culture of subsidy, production and distribution, with an entire history. Alexander Kluge called his feature film debut Abschied von gestern (Yesterday‘s Girl, 1966) – three words, like a manifesto, that encapsulate the entire project of Young German Cinema. The gesture was so powerful that it also swept up both cinema-lovers and filmmakers from New York, Paris, Tokyo, Stockholm, Budapest, Buenos Aires and Belgrade to Barcelona – to a degree equalled only by the Nouvelle Vague, the Oberhausen Manifesto stands worldwide for this era of new departures, radical changes, breakthroughs - and simply ruptures. Walter Krüttner’s That Must Be a Piece of Hitler shows how necessary this gesture was – today we can barely imagine how present the Nazi past was back then. It is also hard to imagine that a work such as That Must Be a Piece of Hitler could fall into oblivion. At the time, the film was a scandal – it was responsible for putting an end to Berghof tourism, after all – but these days one seeks it in vain among the conventional film literature. Cinema history, as is seen here once again, is not set in stone – in reality, it is a construction site. As part of the project Provoking Reality, to which the theme programme Mavericks, Mouvements, Manifestos belongs, new copies were prepared of 35 films in whose making the signatories of the Oberhausen Manifesto played an important role. This means 35 possibilities to approach history – and not only that of cinema – in a different way. And perhaps the dream of a different kind of cinema, a different way of engaging with culture, politics and ourselves, has to be dreamt again in a different way.

Brutalität in Stein
Brutality in Stone. DE 1961. 11‘, 35 mm, b/w, sound. D: Peter Schamoni, Alexander Kluge. DP: Wolf Wirth. P: Peter Schamoni, Alexander Kluge, Dieter Lemmel. Distributor: Deutsche Kinemathek.
    An original and historically important attempt (...) to infer the barbarity of an accursed epoch from its buildings – Hitler’s Nuremberg party buildings, which are confronted in contrapunctal fashion with the former pomp and horror (...) a painting in sound and images with a relentless inner logic. (Hans Sahl, 1961). - AA: A powerful double montage: contemporary images of Nazi monuments and illuminating sounds.

Parolen und Signale
Plakate der Weimarer Republik / Slogans and Signals. DE 1962. 10‘, 35 mm, colour, sound. D: Haro Senft. SC: Haro Senft, Hans Loeper. DP: Heinz Furchner. Distributor: Deutsche Kinemathek.
    A photo – or poster–film. Posters from the Weimar Republic – another title of this film – serve as starting points for passing on the history of the first German republic and the reasons for its failure to future generations. - AA: A compilation of posters grows into a history of Germany, with sounds such as "Die Wacht am Rhein".

DE 1962. 18‘, 35 mm, b/w, Sound. D: Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet. Based on a story by Heinrich Böll. C: Erich Kuby (Oberst Erich von Machorka-Muff), Renate Lang (Inniga von Zaster-Pehnunz). Distributor: Deutsche Kinemathek
    The former colonel, and now General Erich von Marchorka-Muff fulfills a life dream: the opening of the Hürlanger Hiss Academy for Military Memories. A vivid abstract dream, not a story about the re-armament of the Bonn Republic. - AA: Revisited the delicious Heinrich Böll satire realized by Straub and Huillet in their most accessible mode. It indeed is a comment on the remilitarization.

Das Unkraut
The Weeds. DE 1962. 11‘, 35 mm, colour, sound. D: Wolfgang Urchs. Distributor: Deutsche Kinemathek.
    Animated film about a city that is swallowed up by weeds growing with malevolent vigour because its inhabitants have not taken enough initiative. The complaints are lodged with a cop, who extends an antenna and constantly sends a despatch to the ‘responsible authorities‘: “There is a weed. It must go!“ - AA: Stylish limited animation (qf. certain Disney episodes of the 1940s, later known as the UPA style). "Es ist doch gar nicht unsere Sache" - "It's none of our business". - Soon the Unkraut, the weed, is everywhere, and it has become everybody's business. A sharp ecological comment. Or political comment.

Es muß ein Stück vom Hitler sein
That Must Be a Piece of Hitler. DE 1963. 12‘, 35 mm, b/w, sound. D+SC: Walter Krüttner. DP: Fritz Schwen-nicke. Distributor: Deutsche Kinemathek.
    Scenes of the Führer cult on the Obersalzberg, presented as a mixture of direct cinema and Mad. Tourists from all over the world are carted in in bus loads, led through the ruins of Hitler‘s Berghof and finally offered souvenir. At the end, one of the guides describes the bus companies as “transports”... - AA: An unobtrusive satire on the phenomenon of Hitler's "holy mountain" becoming a huge tourist attraction. There is a recommendation to rather visit a concentration camp.

Arme Leute
Poor People. DE 1963. 12‘, 35 mm, b/w, sound. D: Vlado Kristl. Distributor: Deutsche Kinemathek.
    People run after a pot full of gold that is perhaps empty and possibly not even a pot any more. The important thing is: completely obsessed, they run after something that they believe will change something. But it doesn‘t. Not in that way. - AA: A stark, silent tale with affinities to the theatre of the absurd.

Brilliant new 35 mm prints of restored versions of the films. The programme has been judiciously curated: there are thematic links and continuities in the films screened.

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