Showing posts with label germany. Show all posts
Showing posts with label germany. Show all posts

18 November 2013

Master Of Expressionism - F.W Murnau

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F.W Murnau along with Fritz Lang were THE German Expressionist filmmakers of the 1920s. Murnau made such films as Nosferatu, Faust and later in the United States Sunrise. His films often at considered some of the finest ever made.

Murnau was born Friedrich Wilhelm Plumpe in 1888. Not surprisingly he started in theatre but he was also a devout student of art history and literature. Murnau joined the airforce and survived 8 crashes. He was interned in Switzerland but he actually won an award for a play he staged in interment camp. It’s commonly believed Murnau was gay and his first true love was killed during World War 1 and this had a serious psychological impact on the young Murnau.

After the war finishes he quickly starts a film company with Conrad Veidt (Cesare in Cabinet of Dr. Caligari). They made quite a few films together but sadly not uncommon with silent films almost all of those are lost and most sadly their version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It was an unauthorized adaptation but no legal action was taken unlike the case of Nosferatu.

During the first half of the 1920s he could average about 3 films a year. The earliest surviving film of Murnau’s is Journey into the Night and the surviving prints were only found this year. The first film of his which is widely available in Schloß Vogelöd that is rather spooky chamber drama with mystery elements. Murnau followed it with Marizza (only a fragment remains) and The Burning Spoil, which Eric Rohmer assisted in its restoration, but there is no home video release sadly.

Nosferatu is unarguably his most well known film and possibly his masterpiece, even though the case has been made for the later Sunrise. The production of Nosferatu is almost as interesting as the film itself; so much so a largely fictionalised take on it was made as Shadow of the Vampire. It’s the only and one film made by Prana film that was created by Enrico Dieckmann and occultist Albin Grau who was also a member of Fraternitas Saturni, a magical order in German.

Prana film was meant to specialize in occult theme films but due to the lawsuit that Bram Stoker’s wife filed due to the unauthorized adaption of Dracula it went bankrupt. Nosferatu in many ways is not a Murnau film because it was very much Albin Grau’s baby. The idea of doing a vampire film came out of his war experience of hearing a Serbian farmer telling him how his father was a vampire.

Nosferatu came out to relatively lukewarm reviews. The French surrealists really loved the film so much so that in one of André Breton’s books he recites a dream he had of a neck tie that became the likeness of Nosferatu and the intertitle “We he crossed the bridge, the phantom came to greet him” inspired him greatly. Nosferatu has probably inspired more people than any other silent film from everyone from Werner Herzog with his wonderful re-imagining to Abel Ferrara’s vampire film The Addiction.

The film was basically pulled from circulation due to Bram Stoker’s widow suing the filmmakers for the unauthorized adapted of his husband’s novel and won. The filmmakers were forced burn all the negatives but luckily one got all the way to the United States. The many prints over the years were made from this single negative even though they vary in many lengths. The film could have easily been lost like many of Murnau’s other films and has since become one of the most consistently screened silent films.

Phantom was Murnau’s follow up to Nosferatu, which is a very dreamy film that is about a young man who becomes obsessed with this girl and will do anything to find her again. It was considered lost for many years but it was found and restored and eventually came out on dvd by Eureka. Muranu’s next key film is The Last Laugh that is one of his chamber dramas and interestingly enough has barely any intertitles and no intertitles that are dialogue. It was a big success and he was able to Tartuffe and Faust both were made with a much larger budget.

Faust is obviously the old German tale of Faust who sells his soul to the devil. Faust is a special effects spectacular in the vein of Metropolis due to its scale at times. Universum Film AG put Faust into production and until Metropolis the year after was it’s biggest budget film. It’s by far his 2nd most widely seen German silent after Nosferatu. It’s remains one of the finest adaptations of Faust to date and is still a truly stunning film to watch today.

Murnau was already shooting his next film Sunrise in the United States for 20th Century Fox when Faust premiered in Germany. Many critics consider Sunrise his crowning achievement it’s a German expressionist film by a Hollywood Studio and is a beautiful love story. It would later win the “Unique and Artistic Production” at the first Academy Awards which was kind of like the equivalent to best film today. He continued making more films in America till he died tragically of complications because of a car crash. It was a week before his final film Tabu.

Murnau to this day remains one of the most innovative directors in the history of film. Nosferatu and Sunrise will be what he is remembered for but there are plenty of other great German expressionist films he made in the 20s. We can all hope some of his lost films get found some day. Eureka under their masters of Cinema imprint has released the majority of his available German and American films including a beautifully restored blu-ray of his Gothic masterpiece Nosferatu.

Ian Schultz

Nosferatu is now available in a new fully restored version available Monday 25th November on [Blu-ray]and [DVD]. Read our recent cinema release review.

5 October 2013

TIFF 2013 Review - The Strange Little Cat (Das merkwürdige Kätzchen)

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Release Date:
12,13th September 2013 (TIFF)
Ramon Zürcher
Jenny Schily, Mia Kasalo, Anjorka Strechel, Luk Pfaff,

Hands down the hardest film to talk about at Toronto’s International Film Festival this year is The Strange Little Cat, a charming study into the quant and often bizarre realities of everyday family life.

Very loosely (almost unthinkably) based on Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, Ramon Zurcher’s first feature is an exercise in mastery on many levels. The keen and prying eye he exudes into every facet of the busy household can at points seem mundane and others alien but nearly always utterly riveting. The mechanics of household relations seem to spiral silently into a weird dance as a family convenes for a celebration. As each member pops in and out of the films’ frame we are presented odd short narratives from each in an attempt to reveal the complexity of human emotion and everyday life.

The most interesting layer of the feature is the staunch absurdist thread that weaves throughout the film. The study of domestic relation and interactions we perform on a daily basis successfully reveals the inherent weirdness of human endeavour through those short tales relayed by the family members. Alongside these short tales of zany familiarity, Zurcher picks out individual visuals of the home environment and sequences them alongside the narrative to ensure the familiar becomes something unavoidably strange. A young girl screams as a household blender is activated, a remote control helicopter floats in the background pestering the scene, a basket floats past the window, all the while the strange little cat (the most ordinary of the lot) saunters through this bizarre stage.

These instances are then pointed out by the entirely despondent family to a point where you’ll start to wonder if you’ve tottered into a parallel where no one is capable of emotive reaction. This just goes to show how entirely invested the actors are in Zurcher’s strange little play. A wave of honesty seems to possess each character at one point or another, forcing the family to surrender a strange experience from their day. Altogether the stories render a world of near-surrealist quality, by their confronting everyday actions, but the full point is relayed with the actual performance that relays the tale in a distracted bittersweet fashion.

For a film where the most exciting action is a bottle cork smashing a light bulb, The Strange Little Cat is a fascinating feature. A film like this -no matter how absurd- is still a tedious affair across longer distances, so at a wise run-time of 75 minutes it maintains its quality as a strange little vignette into a strange little world performed by some wonderful German talent.

The Strange Little Cat is ponderous, beautiful, and ultimately mysterious in its experimental exploration of the everyday. Though a highly developed and intriguing film, from a skilled hand, it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea as it required a patience that comes hand in hand with such slow artistic endeavour.


Scott Clark

14 June 2013

Relive Emil And The Detectives Film Adaptations This July On BFI DVD Release

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The latest in the BFI’s DVD releases of film adaptations of children’s books, released on 15 July 2013, is Emil and the Detectives, the classic story by Erich Kästner.

Featuring a screenplay written with Billy Wilder and Emeric Pressburger, this original German version from 1931 is directed by Gerhard Lamprecht. It is accompanied by the rarely-shown 1935 British remake by Milton Rosmer which was set on the streets of London.

When young Emil is sent to Berlin by his mother, the money he is carrying to give to his granny is stolen by a sinister man on the train. Once in Berlin, Emil follows the thief and enlists the help of a gang of youngsters – ‘the detectives’ – to help retrieve the stolen money.

This 1931 German adaptation of Erich Kästner's much-loved book was written by Kästner himself in collaboration with the legendary Billy Wilder (Sunset Boulevard, The Apartment) and an uncredited Emeric Pressburger (A Matter of Life and Death, The Red Shoes).

One of the first German sound films, Emil and the Detectives provides a fascinating glimpse of Berlin before Nazism and the Second World War.

Special features

• Emil and the Detectives (Milton Rosmer, 1935, 60 mins): once considered to be a lost film, this rare British adaptation has been newly transferred from the only surviving film elements

• Illustrated booklet with original promotional material, contemporary reviews, and new essays by Children's Laureate Michael Rosen, Bryony Dixon and Caren Willig

Pre-Order Emil And The Detectives :DVD

12 February 2013

The King Of Pop Has Risen, MJ Returns In The Return Of Moonwalker Trailer

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Chamone Mutherf***a! The king of Pop is returning but not as you know you think, in Mike Maria's The Return Of Moonwalker Michael Jackson returns as a bad invisible zombie mutherf***a and we have the trailer to prove have crazy this film really is.

Its nearly exactly 2 years ago since we last saw the trailer for this mad crazy film but now the film is getting released in German cinemas at the end of this month hence the new trailer. Wacko  Jacko rises as the king of zombies to dominate the world, with satanic priests, gay midget sex, lesbian ghost hunters, horny college students and a pretty vagrant punk circus. One hell of a night of debauchery probably leaving you attempting to decipher what the fuck did I just watch?!!!

The Return of The Moonwalker might be badass crazy, it has the makings of a cult film which also happens to be going onto VOD internationally from March!

Synopsis:Michael Jackson's hand has been stolen from his crypt in LA!!The culprits: two love-struck leather dwarves, acting on the orders of Dr. Cagliostro, a time-traveling sorcerer posing as the manager of a “punk circus” in Berlin. The mysterious mystic's mad plan: use the risen Michael to rouse the masses and ignite a global revolution!
Realizing something strange is afoot, two lesbian ghost hunter girls and three horny college dudes team up to infiltrate Cagliostro's circus. Things come to a head when the rapidly decaying Jacko-Zombie Messiah takes over the circus and starts his own "Rainbow Revolution" one that quickly descends into chaos.


27 January 2013

Holy Motors Blu-Ray Review

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Holy Motors is the first full length film by Leos Carax since his previous film Pola X which came out all the way back in 1999! Holy Motors was the sensation of last year at Cannes and at it's initial screening it was widely tipped at the prime contender of the Palme d'Or. It eventually lost out to the most more predictable pick of let another Haneke film (who just has to show up at Cannes and his wins it) but it did win the “award of the youth” award at the festival.

Holy Motors in a nutshell about Mr. Oscar (played by always wonderful Denis Lavant) during the time frame of one day who is has appointments to do and he driven in a limo by Celine (played by Edith Scob). These appointments get increasingly more and more surreal and the first one has him dress up as an old lady and beg.  The film is part about cinema it's littered with references to such great French directors such as Franju and Cocteau but the other hand is certainly can be interrupted as a film about what it means to be performer.

Denis Lavant was Leos Carax's one and only choice was the main character he said “If Denis had said no, I would have offered the part to Lon Chaney or to Chaplin. Or to Peter Lorre or Michel Simon, all of whom are dead.” He is obviously perfect he is like a fucked up French Fred Astaire cause is known for dancing abilities from Leos' previous film The Night is Young and Beau Travail but he is also just a great actor. The film also has bit roles by Kylie Minogue and Eva Mendes, which just add to the surreal quality of the film especially Kylie's cameo especially since they played one of her songs in a scene earlier in the film.

The film is truly unique it's utterly bonkers and makes no logical sense but it's truly a masterpiece that should be seen over and over and interrupted in any which way you like.

Ian Schultz


DVD/BD Release Date: 28 January 2013 (UK)
DirectorLeos Carax
CastDenis LavantEdith ScobJeanne DissonElise LhomeauEva MendesKylie Minogue
Buy Holy Motors:Blu-ray / DVD

15 October 2012

We Are The Night DVD Review

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German Vampire flick ‘We are the Night’ does exactly what is says on the tin. In an era where vampire movies are a dime a dozen, it’s difficult to supply something original to the genre, and unfortunately director Dennis Gansel’s take on the creatures is nothing but another high action, gluttonous movie to add to the pile.

That’s not to say it’s not enjoyable, however. It’s shot well, it’s got enough fight scenes, special effects and fake blood to satisfy and action fan - with particular reference to the final sequence involving two very attractive woman and a lot of bending the rules of physics - and there’s plenty of typical vampire behavior to keep the lifestyle enviable. However, the problem is that this is the perfect word to describe the movie itself - typical.

Telling the tale of young criminal Lena (Karoline Herfurth) as she unwittingly falls into the hands of long time vampire lesbian Louise (Nina Hoss) and her band of vampire babes - party girl Nora (Anna Fischer) and 1920’s silent film star Charlotte (Jennifer Ulrich). Naturally there’s a handsome hero, coming in the form of police inspector Tom Serner (played by Max Riemelt - who looks suspiciously like a German Garret Hedlung) and it all follows a likely story arc; there’s some vampire fun - shopping, partying etc. - before our heroine has trouble coming to terms with all the murder and bloodshed, and her hero gets caught up in the whole bloody mess.

To hold your attention, there are car chases, aeroplane crashes, bikini-wearing-blood-soaked-females, some high budget special effects, and an attractive cast for you to oggle, just don’t expect to have your perspective on the age old monster completely re-vamped (pardon the pun).

The special features offer up some nice additional content, with your usual behind the scenes and VFX features. Also worth a watch are the additional scenes and alternate endings - just as well, as the final edit has an ending which feels lacking.

In summation, it’s nothing groundbreaking. It’s exactly the type of vampire movie you’d expect for a True Blood generation, which is fine… if you’re into that kind of thing.

Jo Heinemeier 


Certificate: 15
Release Date: 15th October 2012
Director: Dennis Gansel
Starring: Karoline Herfurth, Nina Hoss, Jennifer Ulrich, Anna Fischer, Max Riemelt