Sunday, February 12, 2012

Out Spotlight

Today's Out Spotlight is a German film and stage director whose flair for lush visuals and heightened emotions introduced an operatic sensibility to the New German Cinema movement of the 1970s. They are also the first German director to ever receive the Golden Bear for the Berlin International Film Festival. Today’s Out Spotlight is Werner Schroeter.

Werner Schroeter was a key person of the New German Cinema of the 70s. Next to Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Alexander Kluge, Werner Herzog und Wim Wenders he is known as the most important German film director of the postwar period who made himself a name also through theater and opera productions. His works combined an intense interest and knowledge of German History and personal dramatic and emotional investigations. What separated him from most of his contemporaries was his almost complete rejection of realism, social and political, and high camp.

Living by Oscar Wilde's dictum: "Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess,” his mixture of flamboyant, gender-bending minimalism and stylized melodrama, inspired by 19th-century Italian bel canto opera and the music of German romanticism, often juxtaposed with popular song, blurred the distinction between art and kitsch. His eschewal of conventional narrative made him a marginal figure, but towards the end of his life, with several retrospectives at festivals and cinemas, he gained a wider audience of cinephiles. He kept a faithful, mostly gay, following.

Born in the central German state of Thuringia on April 7, 1945, a few months before the end of the World War II, Werner Schroeter spent his childhood moving from school to school, and traveling around the world before finally completing his high school education in Heidelberg. He enrolled at the University of Mannheim to study psychology, but completed only three terms. Shortly after school he attended the experimental film festival in Knokke, Belgium where he was able to view a number of films of the New York Underground, exposing him not only to the numerous aesthetic possibilities of experimental cinema, but to the possibilities of independent film production, which would enable him to remain relatively free from the institutional constraints of the commercial film industry.

Schroeter began to make short, experimental 8mm films, which made him aware of the possibilities of independent film production. A meeting with another German experimental film-maker, Rosa von Praunheim (born Holger Bernhard Bruno Mischwitzky), later a gay rights activist, resulted in their co-directing Grotesk – Burlesk – Pittoresk (1968), which featured Magdalena Montezuma, who went to become Schroeter's favorite star, appearing in almost all his feature films until her death in 1986.

In 1968, Schroeter made his first full-length film, Eika Katappa (1969). This 144-minute, black-and-white film anticipates some of his archetypal themes; dissociated vignettes, asynchronous music and sounds, characters striking campy poses, literary citations and an operatic approach to passionate love, painful beauty and death . “Eika Katappa,” won the Josef von Sternberg prize of the Mannheim International Film Festival and introduced a new phase in his work, in which fragments of narrative begin to appear amid dense clusters of enigmatic sounds and allegorical images.

Working with Montezuma, whose dark, angular beauty suggested Callas, Schroeter created a series of 16-millimeter features, including “Salome” (1971), “The Death of Maria Malibran” (1971) and “Willow Springs” (1973), which considered gender and identity as a form of performance — a notion then gaining currency in postmodern philosophy.

With “Kingdom of Naples” (1978), he moved into 35-millimeter, a medium that allowed him greater control over color and texture. Visually, his work took on a ripe, almost bursting quality, with deeply saturated colors exploding out of dark backgrounds.

“Palermo or Wolfsburg,” his breakthrough film, was a 175-minute epic that evolved through three distinct styles — Italian neo-realism, Hollywood melodrama and theatrical absurdism — as it traced the itinerary of its unhappy protagonist from south to north, poverty to prosperity and freedom to imprisonment. It told the story of about an immigrant Sicilian laborer’s frustrated attempt searching to work and to integrate in German society. It was one of the few films to broach the subject of the difficulties foreigners faces.

“Palermo” won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1980. In doing so he became the first German filmmaker to win the festival’s highest honor, the Golden Bear, for his stylized feature.

The Death of Maria Malibran (1971) gained Schroeter the reputation as the mad genius of German cinema, and the only director Fassbinder considered an artistic equal. A series of baroque tableaux enact the short life of Maria Malibran (played by Montezuma), the 19th-century Spanish prima donna, who died aged 28 in 1836 from injuries received in a riding accident. The hypnotically perverse biopic had no discernible plot and no direct dialogue, with the music on the soundtrack ranging from Mozart to anachronistic melodies such as St Louis Blues.

His last collaboration with Montezuma, “The Rose King,” was his first to deal openly with homosexuality. Filmed in Portugal and punctuated by hallucinatory imagery, operatic underscoring and camp posturing, it tells the story of a horticulturalist whose love for his mother is surpassed only by his obsession with a handsome handyman, whose beauty the gardener tries to enhance by grafting roses to the young man’s body. The film seems at once a parody of German Romanticism and its logical, morbid end point.

After Montezuma’s death in 1984, Schroeter worked with the French actress Isabelle Huppert on two fiction films, “Malina” (1990) and “Deux” (2001), but he devoted more of his time to stage work and documentaries. His “Poussières d’amour” (1996) brought together the divas Martha Mödl, Rita Gorr and Anita Cerquetti in a 13th-century abbey for a discussion of art, life and advancing age. In “The Queen” (1999), he interviewed the actress Marianne Hoppe, whose career began with Max Reinhardt, flourished under the Nazis and ended with a 1997 farewell performance at the Berliner Ensemble.

His final film was “This Night,” a dark fantasy set in a totalitarian future that drew mixed reviews and was little seen outside Europe.

In 2010 he was honored at the Berlin Film Festival again with a special award for lifetime achievement. He passed away after an operation for cancer, which Schroeter had been battling for the last three years of his life. He died on April 12 in Kassel, Germany. He was 65.

45 comments:

prairiegirl said...

Very nice Out Spotlight. I don't understand all the technical stuff of his film making but it sounds like he was quite distinguishable and talented. I'm sorry to read he died so young at 65 - too young yet. That dreadful C.

I love that name "Golden Bear". I love that - what a great name for an award.

And thanks, Special for playing "How Will I Know", one of my favorite Whitney songs amongst so many. I was talking to some neighbors today outside and we were talking about her. What a vast catalog of hit music Whitney had and what a huge loss of talent.

prairiegirl said...

Dog Whisperer. lol. Indeed, M&M.

Oh, that Zach. I went to put on my sneakers this morning and I could not get my right foot into its shoe. I said, "What in the heck?" And I looked at it; the laces were all sucked in so tight until the shoe looked like that bowling shoe of Austin's, as if my foot were to be 3 inches wide.

He had taken my shoe and pulled & tugged on the laces for they were all wet from his mouth. I had to loosen the whole length of the laces.

And he also took Jingles' sweater off yet again. Oh boy, just too much energy contained in mr. Zach.

No cats, Dest!!! No cats! lol

Special K said...

Congrats to Meryl Streep, Octavia Spencer and The Artist. All took home a BAFTA tonight.

the real m said...

Good spotlight. The music is great but makes me sad. Whitneys death reminds me of Heaths. Unintentional but resulting in the loss of great talent and leaving a child behind. Back in the day I had a crush on Kevin Costner and watched The Bodyguard more times than I care to admit.

I have not surfed yet to see if any news of Jake and Austin in Berlin. We are taking bids for a new roof and walked the entire neighborhood studying roofing. Color, design, material. Once its up there we will probably never look at it again but for now thats all we see.

I saw the comment about Bomer mentioning his mate and family. Very nice.

prairiegirl said...

Meryl Streep looked very nice tonight on the red carpet.

I loved The Bodyguard - one of my favorite movies. Whitney was beautiful in that movie and quite a good actress, I thought.

LL Cool J is doing a masterful job on The Grammys tonight. He's a total natural. Bruce was so-so. Too much extravagant guitar playing and yelling into the mic. But it was great to see Little Steven right beside him singing, as always.

And I can do without the fake little audience waving their arms & fists in front of all the stages. I don't need to see that - it's totally distracting and unnecessary. I don't need those people to help me enjoy the whole experience. Whose brilliant idea was it to start doing that? It's really annoying.

prairiegirl said...

A lot of great stars are scheduled tonight. I'm looking forward to seeing Adele tonight - I hope she sings Rolling in the Deep.

Love that song that Jason Aldean & Kelly Clarkson sang, too. And Paul McCartney in the audience, Diana Ross? Wow. And Carrie Underwood just looks gorgeous. She could make a Hefty garbage bag look good. I'm not a Bruno Mars fan but I loved his band's performance - very retro-ish.

Special K said...

The Beach Boys still got it! 50 years wow.

And so good to see Brian Wilson.

prairiegirl said...

I am just laughing at all of the tweets re: The Beach Boys. Just hilarious. And apparently, Mike Love is not too well liked and his pointing was creeping quite a few out. LOLLL!!


And Tay - STOP IT with the fake "surprise" look at the standing ovation. Just stop it.

prairiegirl said...

A lot of people are tweeting that Latrine had to nudge Mike Love at one point - I guess I missed it.

It's nice to see so many people wearing black tonight - very tasteful and respectful.

the real m said...

I cruised around the usual Jake sites and its quiet as a chruch mouse out there. I wonder if news has been shut down since Jake and Austin are together.

destiny said...

I agree, LL Cool J is doing a great job as host. Always love watching the Grammys because they always have so many great performances.

Very interesting Spotlight, haven't heard of him before. Will have to check out his films.

destiny said...

Boo hiss, none of his films are available on Netflix.

Special K said...

Adele so great to hear that incredible voice back and better than ever.

And Jennifer Hudson -amazing -what a tribute to Whitney Houston. I don't know how Jennifer did it.

prairiegirl said...

I'm trying to figure out how Chris Brown managed to get two performances. That guy still leaves a bad taste in my mouth just by seeing his face.

Adele is lovely and 21 deserved all of its rewards. Paul McCartney just doesn't age, does he? He did great.

I like Tony Bennett and Carrie Underwood both but their duet didn't quite work for me. For one thing, Tony hardly looked at Carrie even though she looked at him a lot during the song. Not enough eye contact.

prairiegirl said...

Hey where's that little round guy with the pretzel and the beer? Still in the beer garden? LOLLLL!

prairiegirl said...

little round guy. lol

Jersey Tom said...

If anyone wants to see a really good Tony Bennett duet go to youtube. He did a duet with Amy Winehouse right before she died. It is very good. She looked great.

Treat urself. You will be surprised.

Special K said...

I was glad to see Bon Iver win the Grammy for Best New Artist.

Twitter Berliner said...

loudixon
Louise Dixon
Sighting of Jake Gyllenhaal 2 rows ahead in my 1200 screening...what a treat!
3 minutes ago

congratulations said...

Congratulations Matt Bomer on coming out. Destiny will be proud!

http://www.towleroad.com/2012/02/bomer.html

Tweet said...

@FionaLand_SAFiona L'ananas.

@SylvanaVictoria Austin Nichols parce qu'il est magnifique, sexy, un acteur extraordinaire, un homme en or & qu'il fera un super papa & mari
18 hours ago via web

Retweeted by SylvanaVictoria

Translation: Austin Nichols is magnificent, sexy, and an extraordinary actor, a man [as precious as] gold and will make a great dad & husband.

Methodical Muser said...

Matt Bomer, who has up till now lived in a glass closet (most industry people knew) regarding his sexuality, made it public at an awards ceremony and in a magazine article last week. Bomer was given the New Generation Arts and Activism Award from the Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards on Saturday. In his award speech, he thanked his partner Simon Halls, and his three kids.

Said Bomer: "And I'd really especially like to thank my beautiful family: Simon, Kit, Walker, Henry. Thank you for teaching me what unconditional love is. You will always be my proudest accomplishment."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Bomer was also casually outed in an OK Magazine article late last week: "In his spare time, Matt admits that he wants to start a charity of his own. 'I think it's important to choose something that's really close to your heart. It would revolve around kids. If you can give kids a chance because they are what is carrying on our legacy.' The actor shares three kids with his partner, Simon Halls."
Towleroad:

When asked by Details about rumors about his sexuality in 2010, Bomer answered, "I don't care about that at all. I'm completely happy and fulfilled in my personal life."


Read more: http://www.towleroad.com/2012/02/bomer.html#ixzz1mHNQocPw

prairiegirl said...

Wow, great for Matt Bomer.

destiny said...

I always knew this day would come with Matt, it's been clear as day from day one of White Collar that there was a plan in place. I was also pretty sure when I posted that speech yesterday that it would probably make the rounds today. And yes, I am very excited, happy and proud that he is finally 100 percent out. I'd argue he was pretty much out anyway, but I also know that as long as most people assume you're straight despite loads of evidence to the contrary, it still needs to be said publicly.

destiny said...

Oh, and something I didn't think to say yesterday, I love what he says about his family, the unconditional love and it being he's proudest accomplishment.

destiny said...

his, not he's.

Methodical Muser said...

Good for Matt. It will be interesting to see how well Magic Mike will do at the box office when it's released later this year. Did everyone see how much Channing Tatum's movie made at the box office this weekend? Number 1 and it made 41.7 million dollars. Impressive. But, this is just not Jake's kind of movie. CAA was trying to fit him into a niche that's just not him. Jake is a far better actor than Tatum.

new pics said...

Is this Austin with Jake? I think it's him:

Reception Held By German President Christian Wulff - Berlin Film Festival

IHJ

prairiegirl said...

Thank you, new pics!!!

That sure looks like him to me!! Look at those feet, lol.

Jersey Tom said...

Gotta be more pics than what IHJ is putting up. Cannot tell for sure but it most likely is Austin. Everything including hair, Body shape and height.

destiny said...

I saw that about Channing's movie, jaw-dropping numbers. Agree that Jake is the better actor, but for a lot of movies acting is secondary. I actually kind of like Tatum, I thought he was good in Stop Loss, and a lot of fun when he was on SNL.

Special K said...

Yes it looks like him. : )

I know that ear.

Great to see them going together.

Keep it up guys!

Thanks for sharing them I hadn't seen this new set of pictures yet.

Jersey Tom said...

I am happy about what Matt said but he fell a little short. Sure would have liked him to have said husband or partner also.

destiny said...

Hard to tell for me, but it could be him.

Cloud 9 said...

I do think that's Austin in the pics. I really have to pinch myself to believe what I am seeing lately. Good for them, and congrats to Matt Bomer also. Just wow.

Jersey Tom said...

I wonder if Jake paid to have the others pics not released. There are many more than that. Damn.

Austin in Berlin said...

Here's another picture

IHJ

it's Austin with Jake said...

That is Austin. I am 100% sure it's him. Everything fits, hair, ear, size, height, clothes. It's wonderful they went to the president's reception together! :)

Methodical Muser said...

That's Austin. No doubt about it. They must be thrilled to be able to spend this time together, sharing something that they both love. Excellent!

destiny said...

That second picture looks a lot more like Austin.

destiny said...

Now that she's gone, some people are starting to talk openly about the stories about Whitney Houston and her personal assistant, with whom she was apparently involved with since high school, before she decided to "go straight" and marry Bobby Brown. Got to wonder how much being in the closet and turning her back on her girlfriend like that contributed to her drug problems.

Methodical Muser said...

^I've wondered that myself, Destiny.

Jason said...

There's Austin Nichols trying to trot away from the camera shot. Thank goodness we got the wide angle perspective. :-)

It's been a long time coming, but it appears Jake and Austin are openly being seen out and about together. Yes, it's in another country, but perhaps Jake feels more comfortable doing this away from America after his deeply closeted behavior over the last five years or so. Jake seems to almost be reintroducing himself to the world. His suave yet understated manner of dress, approachable interaction with the crowds, smile, etc. I'm loving every second of this.

prairiegirl said...

Heyyyyy!! What happened to the little round guy, M&M, hmmmmm????


That second picture definitely looks more like Austin.

Jason said...

That's great news about Matt Bomer. Just like with Quinto, a slow unveiling then a soft coming out statement. No fanfare or flashbulbs. Classy.

Is that a dachshund, M&M? LOL! Another German themed avatar. I love it!