Co-sponsored by Cornell Cinema, the Institute for German Cultural Studies, and PG Kino
Designated Tuesdays at 7:15 pm in the Schwartz Center Film Forum
Feb 7 Abschied von gestern (Yesterday Girl), 1966 (1 hour 30 Mins)
March 13 Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel, ratlos (Artists in the Ring, Perplexed), 1968 (1 hour 43 mins)
Apr 3 Die Macht der Gefühle (The Power of Emotion), 1983 (1 hour 55 mins)
Apr 24 Deutschland im Herbst (Germany in Autumn), 1978 (2 hours 3 mins)
Before Werner Herzog or Rainer Werner Fassbinder there was Alexander Kluge. One of the first auteurs of the New German Cinema, Kluge was a guiding light for a generation of filmmakers intent on challenging post-war Germany’s “Papa’s Cinema” in the name of rebellion, critique and confrontation with the nation’s traumatic past and tumultuous present. Kluge began his career as a novelist and lawyer, but following the advice of philosopher and critic Theodor Adorno soon started working in the film industry, acting as an assistant for Fritz Lang during the legendary director’s return to German filmmaking. Signing the landmark Oberhausen Manifesto in 1962, Kluge joined his filmmaking peers in support of short films and features capable of critically educating viewers in a politicized era marked by Cold War politics, student rebellion and intergenerational conflict. Starting in the mid-sixties Kluge would make a string of thoughtful masterpieces vitally linked to his times as well as to his parallel career as an author and philosopher, with groundbreaking works on the importance of art forms like cinema for producing new public spheres. Ever the engaged, timely critic, Kluge has most recently made two ambitious films exploring the global financial crisis. Looking back on his career and the greater achievements of New German Cinema, Kluge remarked, “We felt responsible for drawing society's attention to things. Precisely because we were not powerful we had to grasp everything.”
This winter Cornell Cinema is pleased to present four of Alexander Kluge’s greatest films. His first full-length feature, Yesterday Girl (1966), casts the director’s sister as a young East German crossing the Berlin Wall in search of career opportunities, drifting from job to job on the rough fringes of her new home. Hailed as a breakthrough in post-war German cinema, Kluge adapts the style and concerns of New Wave filmmakers like Jean-Luc Godard for a powerful and poetic critique of West German life. His next film, Artists in the Ring: Perplexed (1968), would win the Golden Bear at Venice in the heady year of 1968, sparking controversy and intense debate. A collage of its times, Artists follows a circus as it transforms from entertaining spectacle into revolutionary experiment, with Kluge exploring the possibility for popular culture to challenge audiences to think critically about their country’s past and future. Organized and overseen by Kluge, Germany in Autumn (1978) is a landmark project, a compendium of short works by the leading lights of New German Cinema, with segments directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Volker Schlöndorff. Examining the political terrorism of the Red Army Faction as it impacted West German politics, media and everyday life in the mid-seventies, Autumn uses a blend of documentary portraits and fictional tales to construct a searing portrait of a violent, fearful turning point in German history. One of Kluge’s most philosophically probing films, The Power of Emotions (1983) is a moving and evocative examination of the fleeting, immaterial emotions that seem to rise out of a hum-drum world of objects, things and commodities. A collage of stories, documentary footage and narrated film essays, Emotions is comprised of chapters detailing, among other intriguing topics, the justice system, the history of opera and the industrial revolution.
The series is cosponsored with PG Kino and the Institute for German Cultural Studies, and is being offered in conjunction with Professor Leslie Adelson’s German Studies graduate seminar on Kluge as a literary author. The screenings are offered for free and will be introduced by Brían Hanrahan, Faculty Fellow in the Dept. of Theatre, Film & Dance, who will also lead post-screening discussions.
For more information please visit the Cornell Cinema website