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March 3 - April 14 , 2002

Goethe on Film Coulisse and Company

In conjunction with the current exhibition of artifacts from the collection of writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s personal effects, the HFA is pleased to present a sampling of significant films that touch upon the writer’s life and work.

March 3 (Sunday) 8:30 pm

ELECTIVE AFFINITIES (Le Affinità elettive)

Directed by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani
Italy 1996, 35mm, color, 98 min.
With Isabelle Huppert, Fabrizio Bentivoglio
Italian with English subtitles

In transferring Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s early-nineteenth century romantic masterpiece to the screen, Italy’s Taviani brothers relocated the story to Tuscany during the Napoleonic era. They recount the forces of attraction and repulsion that shape the complex relationships between a happily married baron and his wife, the baron’s architect friend, and the wife’s goddaughter with immaculate performances, masterful control of color, exquisite compositions, and a poignant yet unexpectedly modernist score by Carlo Crivelli.

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March 10 (Sunday) 7 pm

WRONG MOVEMENT (Falsche Bewegung)

Directed by Wim Wenders
West Germany 1975, 35mm, color, 103 min.
ith Rüdiger Vogler, Hanna Schygulla
German with English subtitles

From a screenplay by Peter Handke that was inspired by Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship , Wenders created this second film in his ground-breaking "road trilogy" series (which included Alice in the Cities and Kings of the Road). Wilhelm, a young and discontented writer, sets out from home to roam the country for adventure and inspiration. Along the way he meets an old singer, an actress, a suicidal industrialist, a poet, and a mute adolescent juggler (Nastassja Kinski in her screen debut), through whom he feeds his embryonic vocation as a writer and attempts to reconcile with the specters of Germany’s past.

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March 24 (Sunday) 7 pm


Directed by Marcel Ophuls
West Germany 1970, 16mm, color, 128 min.
With Rolf Boysen, Thomas Holtzmann
French with English subtitles

A television adaptation of Goethe’s tragedy in five acts by noted documentarian Marcel Ophuls (The Sorrow and the Pity), this film was made in collaboration with the celebrated Deutsches Schauspielhaus of Hamburg. Clavigo is a young, ambitious writer who has seen his career prosper at the Royal Court of Madrid. His promise to marry the daughter of a French nobleman has enabled him to publish his weekly magazine, "The Thinker," and to further the possibility of obtaining high office. When his ambitions materialize, however, he breaks his vow, unmindful of the ensuing consequences. A sober film convincingly enacted in minimalist decor, Clavigo explores the theme of the unfaithful man, incapable of maintaining a balance between emotion and reason.

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March 31 (Sunday) 7 pm


Directed by Hans Sachs and Hedda Rinneberg
West Germany 1979, 16mm, b/w, 11 min.
With Hella Welter-Wolf
German with English subtitles

This "documentary" film presents footage of an allegedly 104-year-old woman whose mother claimed to have seen Goethe.


Directed by Egon Günther
East Germany 1974, 35mm, color, 125 min.
With Lilli Palmer, Martin Helberg, Rolf Ludwig
German with English subtitles

This adapation of a novel by Thomas Mann recounts the story of a bourgeois widow and her daughter who travel to Weimar in the year 1816 and take lodgings at a local inn. There, a knowledgable young waiter identifies the widow Charlotte as "Lotte" from Goethe’sThe Sorrows of Werther and duly spreads the news of his find across the German state. A bevy of visitors descend upon the woman and prepare her for a meeting with the great poet himself. This encounter, however, takes an unexpected course as the small world of Charlotte and the big, cosmopolitan world of Goethe turn out no longer to have any points of contact.

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April 14 (Sunday) 7 pm


This program includes a suite of films first shown on June 13, 1969, at the Paula Cooper in New York.  Entitled "Coulisse"  (the name for a side scene of a theatrical stage, a place "between the scenes"), this historic evening of film, sound, and performance included an early film made for a dance piece by Yvonne Rainer and moving-image works by Bruce Nauman and Richard Serra.  These works, provided graciously by the Whitney Museum of American Art, will be presented together with equally rare films by the Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers (courtesy of the Walker Art Center) and Dutch artist Bas Ader (lent by Patrick Painter Editions)

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