Archiv der Kategorie: Christian Petzold

Berlinale 2020: Day 4

By Sascha Krieger

Undine (Competition / Germany, France / Director: Christian Petzold)

„If you leave now, I’ll have to kill you“, she says. Johannes has just broken up with her but Undine won’t accept it. Paula Beer is looking at him in the half-absent, half-defiant way she’ll only lose shortly when accepting her love with Christoph (Franz Rogowski), an industrial diver she meets just after being abandoned by his predecessor. Undine will make good on her promise, becoming her namesake, a mythical water nymph, popularised during Romanticism. Water plays a pivotal part in Christian Petzold’s new film. It explodes, saves, kills, shelters. It has a hazy, darkly greenish colour to which the film succumbs at its very end. It contrasts with the crisp, cold clean colour scheme of reality, a reality – shot as always with Petzold in rigid, calm, uncompromisingly formal frames, a cold, antiseptic reality unlike the murky waters of love to which Undine belongs. Beer always looks a little out of place in this modern world here, only acquiring that look of quiet confidence when she’s in her element. The realism gives way to, squabbles with, gets mixed up in surrealist moments, an exploding aquarium, a giant catfish, Undine becoming the nymph. Driven by a Bach piano piece giving it a more fairy-tale atmosphere, Undine is a stark, poetic, rough-edged, yet – even though just in short, precious moments – surprisingly warm and tender tale on the traps of love, the impossibility and necessity to let go, the choices we make for love and for life. Undine’s relentlessness, her absolute loving isn’t for this world, Christoph’s gentle warmth is, or just might be. While the film at times tends to tilt a little towards the obvious, it delivers the somewhat surreal, fantastic and frightening extension of reality so typical of Petzold’s work. It offers chances and risks. None can be had without the other.

Undine (Image: © Christian Schulz/Schramm Film)

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Berlinale 2018: Day 3

By Sascha Krieger

Transit  (Competition / Germany / Director: Christian Petzold)

In Anna Seghers‘ novel Transit, people trying to flee France just as the German occupation sets in during World War II wait for their passage, their visas, the way out. One of them is Georg played by Franz Rogowski, one of this festival’s „European Shooting Stars“, who through a number of coincidences assumes the identity of a German writer granted a visa to Mexico. Director Christian Petzold adds a special twist: while the story remains intact, the scenery in present day Marseille. This achieves several things: for one, it opens paths into today, to the refugees of our time, languishing in other port cities, waiting to flee in different directions but with the same urgency and despair. And of course, also to a present in which fascist ideologies snd „us versus them“ are becoming more mainstream every day. It also creates a distance adding to the layered approach of the film. For as the story unfolds in front of our eyes, a second narrative layer appears, the report of a bar tender, telling Franz‘ story in the pest tense. Fort the present is just remembered, the past present. It repeats itself in a never-ending cycle of waiting. The fate of the refugees is far away, viewed through the distance of Petzold’s cold, still, immaculately clean frames, the bar tender’s reading, the chiseled and always just a little abstract, formalised lines, attributed to those characters, those ghost of unseen humans from outside. A film seemingly old-fashioned and straightforward, yet layered, complex, not telling a story but the telling of it, its invention, the need for it, for giving names to the nameless. Transit is a highly intelligent and well-structured film that is also a reflection about film’s own power and limits to tell stories. However, its strength is also its weakness: the distance it creates hold the viewer at bay, makes them appreciate it intellectually but emotionally, leving them as cold as those images.

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Transit (Image: © Schramm Film / Marco Krüger)

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Berlinale 2012: Diary Day 3

By Sascha Krieger

Espoir-Voyage (Forum / France, Burkina Faso / Director: Michel K. Zongo)

Burkina Faso film maker Michel K. Zongo sets out to retrace the steps of his older brother who, like so many other young men, left his home country to work in the coffee and cocoa plantations of neighboring Ivory Coast, never came home and is reported to have died. Zongo interviews family and friends before he joins other immigrants on a bus journey across the ragged roads of Ivory Coast, meets other workers and farmers from Burkina Faso and finally finds the place where his brother has lived and died. It is first and foremost a personal journey for Zongo but at the same time it is much more. For in the interviews and the impressions of villages, plantations, fields and houses appear other stories: that of a people whose young generation goes abroad in order to earn their living and support their families, and through this example that of the global issue of immigration. Zongo refuses to paint things in black and white: Some actually do find success and happiness, others are at least better off than former generations who were little more than modern slaves. And then there are those like Zongo’s brother who tried to rip out his roots, burn all bridges and completely assimilate in his new country. There is nothing simple about migration and it is to the film’s merit that it hints at the fact that there are just as many emigration and immigration stories as people who leave their home in search of a better life.

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