Film Series / Events

Search All Film Series (1999-present)
Browse All Film Series

September 27 - November 29

The New German Cinema and Beyond

The New German Cinema, one of the most influential to emerge in the late 1960s and early 1970s, embraced several contrasting ideological positions and included arguably the most heterogeneous array of filmmakers at work in Western Europe. Their success was owed in no small part to the economic miracle that had remade West Germany in the 1950s, to the thriving network of film festivals and cinemas that gained international attention for new filmmakers, and to a supportive group of public broadcasters. In retrospect, the movement’s history oddly parallels the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall and the shifting political configurations it represented. With the emergence of a vital new generation of German directors, this older movement can perhaps now be more fully understood and its enduring significance measured. This series provides just such an opportunity for reexamination by tracing a number of this cinema’s exemplars, beginning with several early precursors.


September 27 (Wednesday) 7 pm

The Murderers Are Among Us (Die Mörder sind unter uns)

Directed by Wolfgang Staudte
East Germany 1946, 35mm, b/w, 87 min.
With Hildegarde Knef, Ernst Wilhelm Borchert, Arno Paulsen
German with English subtitles

The first feature film to issue from a shell-shocked nation after the war, The Murderers Are Among Us gained recognition for its expressionistic shadows, which evoked Weimar Germany’s “haunted screen,” and for its documentary verisimilitude, which echoed neorealism’s exploration of postwar spaces. Set in Berlin, former capital of the German Reich but now reduced to mounds of rubble, the film focuses on the struggles of the city’s desperate and cynical survivors. In portraying a country shattered by bombs and shackled with guilt, Staudte delivers a powerful indictment of an unreconciled past.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

October 4 (Wednesday) 7 pm

Machorka-Muff

Directed by Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet
West Germany 1962, 16mm, b/w, 18 min.
With Erich Kuby, Renate Lang
German with English subtitles

Straub-Huillet’s adaptation of Heinrich Böll’s biting satire Bonn Diary presents the reflections of a reactivated officer who is summoned to the West German capital by the Ministry of Defense to establish an Academy for Military Memories. Straub considered his film to be an intervention against German rearmament in the Adenauer era: “Machorka-Muff is the story of a rape, the rape of a country on which an army has been imposed, a country which would have been happier without one.”

Young Törless (Der junge Törless)

Directed by Volker Schlöndorff
West Germany/France, 1966, 16mm, b/w, 87 min.
With Matthieu Carrière, Bernd Tischer, Marian Seidowski
German with English subtitles

Schlöndorff’s debut feature turned against the fatal constellations of the Adenauer era: its impersonal and mindless film productions, its evasions of political problems, and its vacations from history. Reverting to the distant past of Robert Musil’s famous novella of 1906, it offered a less obvious contribution to the definitive postwar German project of “coming to terms with the past” through its penetrating study of young cadets in an Austrian military academy—a preview of coming fascist attractions. Young Törless is considered a seminal work that announced a new German cinema of international stature.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

October 11 (Wednesday) 7 pm

The American Soldier (Der amerikanische Soldat)

Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
West Germany 1970, 16mm, b/w, 80 min.
With Karl Scheydt, Elga Sorbas, Margarethe von Trotta
German with English subtitles

A full-scale, mood-thick homage to the world of Humphrey Bogart and great American action directors like Raoul Walsh and Sam Fuller, Fassbinder’s film centers on a hired gunman named Ricky, a charismatic figure in a rakish hat and white suit. Recently returned from a Vietnamized America, Ricky carries out the murders he has been assigned with a startling lack of interest and emotion, all the while trying to reconnect with his old neighborhood and his family. The amazing final shoot-out is probably the most startling of Fassbinder’s patented off-beat endings.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

October 18 (Wednesday) 7 pm

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Angst essen Seele auf)

Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
West Germany 1973, 35mm, color, 94 min.
With Brigitte Mira, El Hedi ben Salem, Barbara Valentin
German with English subtitles

This is melodrama with a capital M, and a beautiful homage to the great German-American director Douglas Sirk—particularly to his film All That Heaven Allows and its attendant social commentary. The story had already been foreshadowed in Fassbinder’s The American Soldier, in which a maid tells the sad story that transpires here: of an older German woman who meets and marries a Moroccan guest worker twenty years her junior. Fassbinder brilliantly articulates class and sexual politics by showing how once the prejudices surrounding the controversial couple begin to lessen, their relationship starts to unravel. His famous interior long shots are perfectly integrated and the colors masterfully contrasted with the grim reality they adorn.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

October 25 (Wednesday) 7 pm

Aguirre, The Wrath of God (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes)

Directed by Werner Herzog
West Germany 1972, 35mm, color, 95 min.
With Klaus Kinski, Ruy Guerra, Del Negro
German with English subtitles

Filming in South America, Herzog recreated the exploits of sixteenth-century Spanish explorer Aguirre (Kinski), who with his retinue searched for El Dorado over mountains, through jungles, and down a great river. The film is at once documentary-like and deliriously lyrical: although it identifies with Aguirre's obsessed and unbalanced state of mind, it keeps a critical and ironic distance from the whole adventure. Kinski's performance in the title role is nothing short of phenomenal.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

November 1 (Wednesday) 7 pm

Kings of the Road

Directed by Wim Wenders
West Germany 1976, 16mm, b/w, 176 min.
With Rüdiger Vogler, Hanns Zischler, Lisa Kreuzer
German with English subtitles

Wenders’ ultimate road movie follows an itinerant cinema mechanic (Vogler) and his partner (Zischler) as they drive through marginal towns along the border of the former East and West Germanies. Episodic in structure and leisurely in tempo, Kings of the Road blends scenes of highways and towns with references to the movies of Godard, Ozu, Lang, and others—all the while creating a subtle rite of passage for its road-bound protagonists. As the film tracks the motions of these figures in a landscape, states of mind and senses of place emerge powerfully.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

November 8 (Wednesday) 7 pm

The State of Things

Directed by Wim Wenders
West Germany 1982, 16mm, b/w, 121 min.
With Patrick Bachau, Allen Goorwitz, Isabelle Weingarten
German with English subtitles

Described by Wenders as the last of the B-movies, The State of Things was borne out of his troubles shooting his first American film, Hammett – a failed collaboration with Francis Ford Coppola in which Wenders was forced to reshoot much of the film’s footage. A film crew waits in a hotel for funding to finish a movie while the director flies to Los Angeles to track down his producer. Using minimal plot and strands of narrative, Wenders expresses the creative impasse submerging contemporary cinema and its crippling inability to escape a state of moribund limbo to tell confident stories.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

November 15 (Wednesday) 7 pm

Mathias Kneissl

Directed by Reinhard Hauff
West Germany, 1970, 35mm, color, 94 min.
With Hans Brenner, Ruth Drexel, Frank Fey
German with English subtitles

In one of the first attempts to critique the idealized, pastoral imagery of the German Heimatfilm genre, director Reinhard Hauff provides a much darker portrait of turn-of-the century peasant life. The members of the Kneissl clan are outcasts living in seclusion in a ramshackle mill outside Munich. After their father is savagely beaten to death, Mathias and his siblings attempt to maintain a meager existence on the fringe of society only to find hostility and brutality. The supporting cast features an array of Fassbinder regulars including Irm Hermann, Eva Mattes, Kurt Raab, and Fassbinder himself.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

November 22 (Wednesday) 7 pm

The Marriage of Maria Braun (Die Ehe der Maria Braun)

Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
West Germany 1978, 35mm, color, 120 min.
With Hanna Schygulla, Klaus Löwitsch, Ivan Desny
German with English subtitles

dddddddddA parable of post-World War II Germany, Fassbinder's film recounts the transformation of an impoverished war bride (Schygulla) into a mercenary business woman. The best known of Fassbinder's trilogy of historical films about the Federal Republic's "economic miracle" of the 1950s and one of the major productions of the New German Cinema, The Marriage of Maria Braun is equally a melodrama of the highest order - Fassbinder's successful realization of his desire to create for Germany the equivalent of a classic Hollywood movie. Maria's failures at fidelity become a metaphor for the false optimism of the society that surrounds her: we hear Adenauer in the background succumb to weakness as his pledge never to rearm the nation falls victim to the irresistible allure of power.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top

*PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF FILM*
Germany Pale Mother
CANCELLED
November 29 (Wednesday) 6:30 pm

Mariane and Julianne

Directed by Margarethe von Trotta
West Germany 1981, 35mm, color, 106 min.
WIth Jutta Lampe, Barbara Sukowa, Rüdiger Vogler
German with English subtitles

Margarethe von Trotta's masterpiece zeroes in on the psychological relationship of two sisters, one the editor of a progressive feminist journal (Lampe), the other a committed revolutionary who has been jailed by the police (Sukowa). The Baader-Meinhof era comes to life in this extraordinary melding of the personal and political, where the tension between stands that are either too safe or too shrill comes into sharp relief.

 

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top
Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700