The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Werner Schroeter Day



‘Like his contemporaries Fassbinder, Herzog, and Wenders, the late Werner Schroeter was one of the New German Cinema’s seminal figures, if far more marginal in terms of recognition. He started out as an underground filmmaker in 1967 before making a critical impact on the international festival circuit and winning a devoted cult following. His films, shot through with a predilection for operatic excess and artifice, defy categorization, and are infuriatingly obscure for some and entrancingly poetic for others. His cinema occupies a transitional space between avant-garde and art cinema, neither quite narrative nor quite abstract. In the second half of the Eighties he became widely known as a theater and opera director, staging a range of hyperstylized productions in Germany and abroad that outstripped even his films in their ability to provoke both intense admiration and hostility. His flamboyance and reputation for refusing to compromise with the mainstream attracted outstanding talents willing to work for little or no money, some of whom became his regular collaborators. Foremost among the performers was Magdalena Montezuma, the splendid German underground star and Schroeter’s muse until her death in 1985. Subsequently French stars such as Bulle Ogier, Carole Bouquet, and Isabelle Huppert gave him an additional art-house aura. Throughout his career and thanks to major retrospectives, including events in London, Paris, and Rome, Schroeter’s films kept garnering new, if select, audiences.

‘Schroeter’s stylized, performance-centered aesthetic draws on opera, pop music, stage melodrama, contemporary dance theater, and cabaret. His films consist of overt allegories and fables driven by the Romantic impulse, distilling moments of desire, loss, and death in all-consuming emotion. The central figure in Schroeter’s films is always the outsider—the mad person, the foreigner—and his major theme is ineffable longing for passionate love and artistic creativity. Although Schroeter was gay, homosexuality is rarely an explicit topic, though arguably the female protagonists who are foregrounded in his films become vessels for the displaced expression of gay subjectivity. Visually the characters are framed in sumptuous tableau compositions underscored by a highly manipulated post-synchronized soundtrack. Music is crucial to all of Schroeter’s films but more for the content than for the mood: it offers commentary and counterpoint, and one of his major strategies was the juxtaposition of classical and popular music. For example, he often puts the opera diva Maria Callas side by side with Caterina Valente, the German popular singer, blurring the hierarchical distinction between high and low culture, art and kitsch.

‘After attending the 4th experi-mental Film Festival at Knokke, Belgium, in 1967, the 22-year-old Schroeter started to make his first 8mm films, most notably Maria Callas Portrait (68), in which he animated stills of Maria Callas and overlaid them with a soundtrack of her singing. The figure of the diva, personified and immortalized by the voice and fate of Callas, became for Schroeter the embodiment of artistic creativity and intensity in his quest for the representation of emotions. In these early nonnarrative films, images, music, and sound are not synchronized; and their live performers mime to the lyrics or spoken words on the soundtrack in an exaggerated fashion.

Eika Katappa (69), a radical 147-minute camp appropriation of opera, is arguably as spectacular as a Hollywood epic and features more musical climaxes than even a 19th-century Italian bel canto opera. Schroeter paraphrases the climaxes from such operas as Puccini’s Tosca and Verdi’s La Traviata, alongside pop songs and orchestral music. The various episodes are driven mainly by the lyrics and sometimes by tableaux such as St. Sebastian’s ecstatic death. The film exemplifies the tendency in Schroeter’s early period toward incorporating explicitly dilettantish performances of the Western cultural repertoire, staging them in makeshift sets, and linking scenes through complex montage (for example, there is a kaleidoscopic replaying of previous scenes from the film in the final section).

Eika Katappa, which was self-financed, won the Josef von Sternberg prize (for “the most idiosyncratic film”) at the 1969 Mannheim Film Festival and enabled Schroeter to break into television. Ironically, his “total cinema” films, which work more through spectacle than narrative, were almost exclusively produced by Das kleine Fernsehspiel (“The Little Television Play”), a small experimental department of the German public-service station ZDF. During this period, Das kleine Fernsehspiel supported some of Schroeter’s highly controversial projects, beginning with The Bomber Pilot (70), a grotesque parody of Fascist revue shows, which was probably the first German film to engage with the “cultural myth” of Nazism. Similarly, Salome (71), Macbeth (71), and Goldflocken (Flocons d’or, 76) provoked strong and contradictory reactions: critic Eckhard Schmidt called Schroeter “one of the most talented young filmmakers,” while others dismissed his films as trivial ritualistic exercises in appropriation.

‘Sublime and bizarre, The Death of Maria Malibran (71) is considered by many, including Michel Foucault and Schroeter himself, to be one of his best films, but it’s also one of the most difficult. The tragic life of the eponymous 19th-century opera diva is merely a starting point for a dense network of references and allusions centered around the idea that artistic perfection is only attainable in death. The fragmentary and opaque narrative is conveyed through the intense stylization of gestures, poses, tableaux, and music. Malibran’s life is condensed into metaphorical and imaginary situations that reflect on an artist’s existence beyond the boundaries of a historical reality and gender identity. The life, or rather the death, of the singer is audiovisually refracted through prerecorded operatic arias, pop songs, literary citations, and romantic platitudes (ranging from Goethe and Lautréamont to Elvis Presley). Highlights include the passionate suicide of two female lovers, pastoral musical interludes, and performances expressing ineffable longing, despair, and madness.

‘With Kingdom of Naples (78) Schroeter shifted toward more plot-driven art cinema, maintaining his hallmarks of pathos and melodrama but with more obvious narrative and political intent. Schroeter commented about this change “that it is much more radical to play with the content than with the aesthetics of the image. The era of independence is over. Our society has not fulfilled the promises hoped for around ’68-’70.” Greeted with an unaccustomed consensus of critical acclaim, Kingdom won many prizes in Germany and internationally, and became his first commercial release. Shot on location by Aguirre, Wrath of God DP Thomas Mauch with several nonprofessional actors and using local dialects, the film is reminiscent of Italian neorealism in its approach, and on first viewing, its chronicle of a poor Neapolitan family and their community, spanning between 1944 to 1977, appears to be grounded in conventional melodrama. Yet it is highly stylized and constructed in the manner of a 19th-century serial opera with music being used not only for its emotional power but as a form of critical commentary.

‘Schroeter was a great globe-trotter who took advantage of invitations to film festivals or Goethe Institut presentations of his work to make films. Many who regarded him as a maker of fantastic fables were surprised at the politically hard-hitting if still associative and nonlinear documentaries that resulted. Smiling Star (83) is an extraordinary collage documentary on Marcos’s corrupt regime in the Philippines, shot clandestinely while Schroeter was a guest of the Manila International Film Festival, while For Example, Argentina (83-85) is a denunciation of Galtieri’s military dictatorship: “First we kill the subversive elements, then the sympathizers, then their henchmen, and last of all the weak.”

‘Schroeter’s gay sensibility is expressed as an aesthetic that could be described as high camp, since he insists on a Romantic and operatic vision of homosexuality. In The Rose King (86), an excessive and entrancing hallucinatory fable of perfect but doomed love, and his most explicitly gay film, the symbol of the rose is employed to signify love, passion, and perfection at the moment of death. The titular Rose King merges the ideal of the perfect rose with the body of his lover and at the sexually climatic moment grafts multiple roses onto him. This visceral scene of ecstatic mutilation, heightened by the rhythm of a Viennese waltz, is intercut with shots of fire, ink, water, and the sea washing over a nude male body. The juxtaposition of images and sounds is as horrific as it is beautiful.

‘After his theater and opera productions in the late Eighties Schroeter returned to filmmaking in 1990 with Malina, a relatively high-budget literary adaptation based on Ingeborg Bachmann’s 1971 novel. Scripted by Elfriede Jelinek, and featuring an original avant-garde score by Giacomo Manzoni, it stars Isabelle Huppert as an unnamed female writer caught between passion and creativity, and between her platonic love for the rational Malina (Mathieu Carrière) and her consuming desire for the sensual Ivan (Can Togay). This is represented not as a conventional ménage à trois but rather as a visual and sonic staging of (literally) burning passion and glacial voids that lead to the disintegration of the writer’s identity. On a psychoanalytic level Ivan is a projection of a desire for absolute erotic love, while Malina represents the rational male alter-ego that clashes with the female emotional ego and finally obliterates the female identity—suggesting that it is only possible to be a writer at the expense of femininity and desire. Huppert’s tour-de-force performance of exaltation and self-destructive despair is familiar from Schroeter’s repertoire, and so is the film’s nonlinear narrative with its operatic climaxes—albeit now psychologically motivated as nightmares and hallucinations. With its musical cadences and its mise en scène of ornate mirrors and consuming fires, Schroeter’s Malina transforms Bachman’s literary text into an idiosyncratic spectacle and aural feast. Despite receiving mixed reviews in Germany, the film won the German Film Award in Gold, but internationally this sumptuous but difficult film was considered too obscure to win much acclaim.

‘With Love’s Debris (Poussières d’amour, 96) Schroeter re-engaged with the cult of the diva—this time employing living, breathing, but aging opera divas. He invited a few of his favorite opera singers, young and old, to a 13th-century French abbey, in an effort to understand what gave rise to the emotional intensity in their vocal performance. The most affecting scene centers on the 65-year-old diva Anita Cerquetti, who gave up singing upon losing her voice at the height of her career, when she was barely 30 years old. We watch Cerquetti listening and lip-synching to an old recording of her sublime vocal performance of “Casta Diva” (“Chaste Diva”) from Bellini’s Norma. This apparent sonic synchronization becomes a hauntingly nostalgic experience through the accompanying visual mismatch: the aging body cannot anchor the youthful operatic voice. The fleeting restoration of Cerquetti’s full, rich voice is followed by her recognition of its irrecoverable loss. It is a moment of great poignancy.

‘Schroeter’s penultimate film, Deux (02), was written for Huppert, and she provides another virtuoso performance playing contrasting twin sisters, separated at birth and unaware of each other’s existence. This surreal fantasy, with its dreamlike associative editing, literary citations from the Comte de Lautréamont’s 1869 verse novel Les Chants de Maldoror, gay iconography, and periodic arias is reminiscent of the director’s earlier episodic films. In its engagement with the myth of Narcissus and the German Romantic concept of the doppelgänger, Schroeter claims that the film contains autobiographical episodes that transfigure his own memories and dreams into art. The film premiered at Cannes where it received some praise, but failed to find a German distributor. Although at the core extremely subjective, Deux also contains references to European art history and literature, and this balancing act, while doubtless intriguing for dedicated Schroeter followers, is likely too opaque for the uninitiated.

‘Schroeter’s swan song, Tonight (Nuit de chien, 08) was shot nocturnally on location in Porto (Portugal) while the filmmaker was enduring the debilitating effects of cancer. It is a dystopian fable about the failure of a revolution and a darkly luminous nighttime odyssey across a port city and its brutalized inhabitants. Christiane Peitz’s obituary of Schroeter describes the film as “a long journey into darkness, a hymn to life in the face of brutality and terror.” And Schroeter explained in his own posthumously published autobiography: “All my films, including Tonight, bear witness to my quest for a form that communicates vitality, the pleasure of creativity and beauty, which is a gift of our profession. In beauty, in recognition of beauty resides a hope—malgré tout, despite all. It expresses a hope even though the theme of the film deals with the darkest night aspects of existence . . . Without pain and a quest for truth there is no beauty.”

‘The nature of Schroeter’s lifelong quest is eloquently explored in the lyrical and elegiac 2011 documentary Mondo Lux: The Visual Worlds of Werner Schroeter by Elfi Mikesch, Schroeter’s close friend and collaborator. But a much earlier tribute was paid in 1979 by his friend and rival Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who welcomed the art-house release of Kingdom of Naples as Schroeter’s emergence from the underground. Fassbinder graciously acknowledged Schroeter’s decisive influence on himself and other German filmmakers, and suggested that the director’s very underground exoticism had kept him at the margins of film culture. Perhaps this continued detachment from the commercial mainstream makes Schroeter’s films that much more precious.’ — Ulrike Sieglohr





Werner Schroeter Official Website
Video: ‘Werner Schroeter, l’inédit’ @ Arte
‘Gifts After Death: Werner Schroeter’s Photos’
Conversation entre Michel Foucault et Werner Schroeter
Werner Schroeter @ Senses of Cinema
Olaf Moller ‘But Farewell: Werner Schroeter’ @ Cinemascope
Gary Indiana on Werner Schroeter
DVD: ‘Werner Schroeter Collection’



Young Werner Schroeter filmed by Fassbinder

Werner Schroeter speaks @ Venice Film Festival, 2008

In person: Werner Schroeter


from Kulturchronik Magazine


You like the philosophy of Michael Foucault, don’t you?

Werner Schroeter: Yes, I find him highly intelligent, and one could devote a life just to his work. Around 1973 when two of my films were shown in France, THE DEATH OF MARIA MALIBRAN and WILLOW SPRING, about which Foucault wrote an article in a film magazine, I came across his books for the first time and his definition of the vital differences between love and suffering particularly pleased me. I read him and was impressed by how close he came to my feelings on the philosophical level.

What role does France play for you?

WS: After initial difficulties I find interesting the contrast between life and art and the way in which the French live.

You also love Italy and Mexico City.

WS: Yes, I was always attracted by the harsh contrast, here the North and there the South. I yearned for Italy because it was there that I first really fell in love. Then came the passion for opera. Verdi’s BALLO IN MASCHERA constitutes an opposite to Wagner’s TRISTAN which consists of an abundance of subtleties and superimpositions. The one is as beautiful as the other, but during my youth I felt much more attracted to this linear Latin music.

And Mexico City?

WS: There I felt very much at ease. Such wellbeing is important for my creativity since I’m not a masochist in that respect. It was the people there who filled me with life. I once said on Mexican television that I feel myself to be a European. From Mexico City Paris is just around a corner but Los Angeles is a whole world away. I think Mexicans wonderful with their clear-cut passion and sensuous lives, coupled with Prussian discipline.

You make no secret of your homosexuality. Do you comprehend your gayness as a chance to make less conventional art?

WS: Certainly that is one advantage, provided that one has the necessary personal constitution and has the wish and the will for such expression. The unconventional way is certainly more fruitful than what is already laid down. Baudelaire already asked, why do something in a straight line if you can do it crookedly. More happens. That’s obvious since one must be ready for much more resistance. One also operates out of much greater internal friction. That’s certainly the case with all outsiders. However for someone who cannot really express themselves or has no chance of putting it to creative use, that can certainly be a great problem because he allows himself to be intimidated. But I certainly don’t feel myself to be an outsider since I’m always integrated in more extended social contexts.

Did you experience something like a coming out?

WS: Homosexuality was never a concern in my family, and there was a time when I alternated girl and boy friends, whereby the erotic ties with the boys were greater than with the girls – and I also slept with them. My father, who liked most of my friends both male and female, was convinced by the human rather than the sexual qualities. That was quite normal. I turned up with a boy friend and that was that. On this level I couldn’t be forbidden anything. I was calm and gentle and quiet but had a certain strength involving a kind of non-violent authority. In addition my mother was a loveable and loving woman, full of faults like everyone else. She struggled greatly for her children’s love. My father was an exceptionally liberal man whose tolerance seemed almost indifference when I was a child. Only years later did I discover that this was his form of social acceptance. As far as influence and behaviour are concerned, I believe that we are much more influenced by the family than by whether we are gay or not.

You had a special relationship with your grandmother, didn’t you?

WS: My Polish grandmother was a dynamo of imagination who shared her fantastic world. In 1951, shortly after the war when I was five, we lived in a rapidly developed workers settlement outside Bielefeld. Everything I could see outside was so alien to my sensibility that my grandmother and her dreams became my world. She, who had neither experienced repression nor practiced it, translated everything into fantasy. I still remember very well how she once suddenly transformed the rails used by Bielefeld’s trams into an Indian trail. A chair became a palace and a flower pot a jungle. This freedom in dealing with things captivated me, and there was a place for us in strange daydream reality.

For her a sense of reality was completely present in a vital irony. With her fantastic dreamworld she prepared us for a life of resistance. After all imagination is resistance and the only thing that can turn upside down the unbearability of reality. Without it there would be no revolution, which involves not only mass dynamics but also the development of fantasy regarding something so as to surmount it. With her kind of flight from the world my grandmother created a new reality which could take place everywhere. That is certainly the source of my freedom vis-à-vis what people nowadays call realistic depiction or naturalism. For me it goes without saying that with determination and imagination mountains –imaginary ones of course—can be moved.

What themes initially attracted you as a maker of films and theatre?

WS: Initially the mystery of woman in society and my great closeness to women on the level of friendship. During my short marriage I also sussed out the identificatory aspect. I am interested in women in art as sensitive beings, even a membrane, since women have a great talent for self-mastery. Then something shifted and a larger context was established.

You make no secret of your homosexuality. Do you comprehend your gayness as a chance to make less conventional art?

WS: Certainly that is one advantage, provided that one has the necessary personal constitution and has the wish and the will for such expression. The unconventional way is certainly more fruitful than what is already laid down. Baudelaire already asked, why do something in a straight line if you can do it crookedly. More happens. That’s obvious since one must be ready for much more resistance. One also operates out of much greater internal friction. That’s certainly the case with all outsiders. However for someone who cannot really express themselves or has no chance of putting it to creative use, that can certainly be a great problem because he allows himself to be intimidated. But I certainly don’t feel myself to be an outsider since I’m always integrated in more extended social contexts.

Your productions seem wonderfully connected with your vital force and that of the actors involved. They work on the basis of improvisation, demanding that the actor relies on him or herself.

WS: That’s impossible without the intuition. Theatre is community work where I am the originator and director of the performance. The actor must provide at least as much creativity as me. In order to get things moving I come with a very strict concept even though I know from experience that it will be thrown overboard after some days of rehearsal. So I gradually give up this concept because what is involved in the encounter with the actors leads it to pale into insignificance. But things don’t work completely without a concept. You must allow yourself the freedom to abandon what you thought up. Only then does there come into being something that is more vital than the preconceived idea. Basically I offer my ideas as motivation. However at the end of this process the original basic idea is redeemed in a more beautiful, advanced, and essential form than it would have been in working according to routine. I must accept the play I have chosen with all its weaknesses and other characteristics. What matters is to find a way of doing justice to it.

Underlying what you do is curiosity about something completely other.

WS: Yes, since I know anyway what I want. If I were only to force my will onto another person and press him into my form, allowing everything to cool down, it would be completely dead. Only a few forms of theatre really touch me. For instance the theatre made by Tadeusz Kantor, who unfortunately died some years ago. This man, who worked on productions for two years, certainly utilized a similar work process. Only he went much farther than me. He worked until an organic experience had occurred between the actors.


12 of Werner Schroeter’s 41 films

Neurasia (1968)
‘NEURASIA is a silent movie with Carla Aulaulu and Magdalena Montezuma in the leading roles. “NEURASIA is a paradise of furious gestures. A Luna Park of emotions. On a black-gray stage-image-surface, infinitely repeatable particles of musical and melodramatic exaltations, extremely retarded gestures of adoration, love, despair, religion, insanity, and death are enacted.'” — Sebastian Feldmann

the entirety


Maria Callas Porträt (1968)
‘Animated stills of Maria Callas and overlaid with a soundtrack of her singing.’ — letterboxd

the entirety


Salome (1971)
‘Schroeter’s film Salome, 1971, is one of the most beautiful adaptations of the text to film ever made. Filmed at the ruins of Baalbek in Lebanon, the decadent carnality of Gustave Moreau’s painting Salome is recalled in the jeweled costumes of Herod and Herodias, in the somnolent pallor of Salome’s face, in Magdalena Montezuma’s androgynous performance as Herod. Pans and zooms within long sequences, invisible cutting, Oscar Wilde’s hypnotic text, and a densely packed sound track form a seething tapestry of contradictory cues and visual blandishments.’ — Gary Indiana

Watch the trailer here
Watch an excerpt here


Der Tod Der Maria Malibran (1972)
‘Werner Schroeter’s hyper-melodramatic films tend to provoke either intense admiration or outraged hostility. He is one of the most controversial filmmakers associated with the New German Cinema. Der Tod der Maria Malibran , sublime and bizarre, is considered by many (including Michel Foucault and Schroeter himself) to be one of his best films, but it is also the most difficult. The historical figure of the singer Maria Malibran provides merely a starting point for a dense network of references and allusions encompassing Goethe, Lautréamont, Elvis Presley, and Janis Joplin.’ — film reference


the entirety


Willow Springs (1973)
‘This is the only film which Werner Schroeter has shot in the United States. The scene is a lonely, dilapidated house with a bar on the edge of the Mojave desert; the house, like the place in which it is located, is called “Willow Springs”. The three Amazons sit in their lair, waiting for men to rob, love, and kill. But in this “feminist” counter-world, “male” power structures continue to function: the “master thinker” and priestess Magdalena (Montezuma) dominates the ethereal Christine (Kaufmann), who, in love with herself, is the sterile embodiment of an art grown unsensual. At the very bottom of the hierarchy is Ila (von Hasberg), the maid who says next to nothing. She not only finds sexual contact with the stranger Michael (O’Daniels), but also love. The two contrive to flee, but the murderous Magdalena kills them. “Art” also kills herself, before she goes out into the desert as the Black Angel, the title of Schroeter’s next film, which was made in Mexico in 1973/74.’ — Filmmuseum



Regno di Napoli (1978)
‘A brother and sister, both of whom grew up in the slums of Naples, communicate with one another periodically over the years from 1944 to 1976 as they go their separate ways. Through flashbacks, and as they grow reacquainted during their meetings, the story of each is told. The girl struggles to study her way out of poverty, learns English well enough to become an airline stewardess, and discovers the limitations of her success. The boy joins the communist party early on, ardently serving as another body in the movement on the picket lines and at demonstrations. Despite his dedication, the best job the party can deliver to him is a menial one, and he too feels betrayed.’ — Ken Pasternak, FilmStudies



Die Generalprobe (1980)
‘An exhilarating, essayistic documentary about the 1980 festival of experimental theatre in the French city of Nancy. Werner Schroeter’s favourite of his own films. With Pina Bausch, Reinhold Hoffman, Pat Oleszko.’ — letterboxd



Der Tag Idioten (1982)
‘In this non-story of the mentally and emotionally impaired inhabitants of a clinic for the insane, the medical profession along with humanity is distorted into a long, filmic exhibition of sado-masochism, urination, and ample nudity for its own sake. Critics that support the avant-garde might feel that the lack of apparent purpose in each “idiot’s” (the title is “Day of the Idiots’) physical and emotional problems is a form of high art. The viewers will have to decide for themselves.’ — Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi



Der Rosenkonig (1986)
‘Schroeter’s gay sensibility is expressed as an aesthetic approach that could be described as “high camp.” His conception has frequently been compared to and contrasted with (not always favourably) Rosa von Praunheim’s much more militant stance. Schroeter insists on the romantic version of homosexuality. In most of his films we get the gay historical subtext, rather than thematic treatment. Der Rosenkönig , an excessive and entrancing hallucinatory fable of oedipal and homosexual passion, is his most explicit gay film.’ — Ulrike Sieglohr




Malina (1990)
‘In this movie, a woman is going mad, literally, with frustration. Based on a novel by Ingeborg Bachmann, Isabelle Huppert plays the distraught woman who feels that the choice between her uninspiring husband and her indifferent lover warrants ever-escalating displays of rage, distress and loss of self-control. Eventually her self-indulgence leads to her setting her now-demolished Viennese apartment on fire and burning herself alive in it while the movie score plays songs from grand opera to celebrate her dramatic departure from life.’– Clarke Fountain, CinemaDeutsch


the entirety


Deux (2002)
‘Avant-garde director Werner Schroeter’s Deux (Two) is a willfully disjointed film about twin sisters played by Isabelle Huppert. As newborns, the two girls were separated. The film intercuts snippets from their lives. One of the sisters engages in some homosexual experimentation, while the other has ongoing conversations with a man (Jean-François Stévenin) who apparently resides in an opera house (opera being one of the director’s career-long obsessions). Bulle Ogier plays a woman who may or may not be related to the two women played by Huppert.’ — Perry Seibert, Movie Euro




Nuit de Chien (2008)
‘Werner Schroeter directed this dark and surreal tale of a man determined to save a lost lover from a grim fate at the hands of a violent mob. The city of Santa Maria is falling into chaos as an armed military faction is poised to take power in a coup d’etat. Ossorio (Pascal Greggory) used to call Santa Maria home, and he has returned in its darkest hour to find the woman he loves, hoping to rescue her from the violence that is lurks around the corner. As Ossorio searches for his love, he meets Victoria (Laura Martin) in a shabby hotel, who in turn introduces him to her father Barcala (Sami Frey), who for the right price is willing to take Ossorio and another passenger away on his boat. While Ossorio is willing to pay Barcala what he wants, can he find the mysterious woman before the ship sets sail? Adapted from Juan Carlos Onetti’s novel Para Esta Noche, Nuit de Chien (aka Tonight) received its North American premiere at the 2008 Toronto Film Festival.’ — Mark Deming, Rovi






p.s. Hey. ** JM, Howdy! Thanks so much about the post! I do think long term about the blog and the posts. The old posts keep being discovered and read by people out there every day. I’ll have to hope WordPress or GoDaddy don’t fold and dump their contents. And I’ll have to put something in my will that assures GoDaddy’s tri-yearly rental fee gets paid until the end of time. But, yeah, I’ve always been someone who thinks about the future when I write/make things, maybe because when I was a young, aspiring writer, most of my favorite writers had been dead for a long time. Anyway, thank you very kindly. I’m guessing you’re in a production of Shakespeare’s not Kathy’s? I’m into the cow in a white room thing, of course. I’d read that. Maybe even if it was 800 pages long. I love things that don’t seem to be doing anything but keep moving forward. Yellow, huh. In ‘God Jr.’ no doubt. Huh. That’s interesting. I wish there was a program where I could do a word search through my oeuvre. I went into counselling really late. In my early 40s. I probably should have done it much earlier, but that’s when the crisis I couldn’t fix myself arrived for whatever reason. Big day for you, I hope. With love back. ** David Ehrenstein, Yeah, there’s a reason why they’re still on nightclubs’ ceilings long after their special effects peers like lasers and so on have been retired. Everyone, On FaBlog today it’s Ehrenstein vs. Limbaugh vs. Buttigieg and hubby here. ** Bill, Hey. And I still don’t have the slightest clue who Bradley James is. Will do, when I hit the Left Bank next. Today I’m checking some brand new bookshop by the canal called 1909 that supposedly specialises in transgressive, cult stuff, ‘weird’ stuff, etc. I imagine I’ll need to pick up the Amber Sparks elsewhere, but you never know. ** Steve Erickson, I hope today is massively full of resolutions. Uh, … I don’t remember where I got the Bradley James thing. It was four or five years ago. Maybe Tumblr, sure. Look forward to your Schanelec review. I liked that film a lot. Everyone, Mr. Erickson reviews Angela Schanelec’s I WAS AT HOME, BUT… here. I haven’t read his review yet, but I personally highly recommend that film to you. ** _Black_Acrylic, Thanks, bud. Good, good, good about your swelling self-confidence! And happy that the Millhauser quote came in handy. ** Okay. The blog does its concentration number on the wild and valuable German director Werner Schroeter today. I think you’ll have fun if you dig in. See you tomorrow.


  1. David Ehrenstein

    Nice to see this Werner Day, A chapter of my book Film: The Front Line — 1984 is devoted to him. While women were primary cinematic figures in his work men were greatly featured too as several Werner boyfriends make appearances ( a rather important one whose name I can’t recallat the oment died of AIDS) and Nicola Zarbo the star of Werner’s masterpiece “Palermo oder Wolfsburg” is overwhelmingly gorgeous.

    Werner was also a great fan of Candy Darling who appears in “The Death of Maria Malibran” and “Willow Springs”

    Fassbinder cast Werner in “Beware of a Holy Whore” and “World on Wires,” He also denounced Hans-Juergen Syberberg for his wholesale rip-off of Werner’s ideas.

    And now Happy Valentine’s Day

  2. Bill

    Great to see this Schroeter day! A few weeks ago, I was wondering if you’d written a post on him. I thought I remember Schroeter mentioned here years ago? Pacific Film Archive had a retrospective around the same time, and I was lucky to catch Der Rosenkonig, Malina, and a couple other films. Will definitely check out the links here; I doubt that I’ll be lucky enough to come across another Schroeter screening anytime soon.

    Hope 1909 is transgressive etc. It’s been ages since we had a new and interesting bookstore open here, but many of the old standbys have been hanging in there, fingers crossed.


  3. Jeff J

    Hey Dennis – Love this Werner Schroeter day! I’ve never seen that early short ‘Neurasia’ and excited to check it out. The clips from ‘Salome’ are jaw-dropping. I’ve always wanted to see that one. The later films, after the stellar “Rose King,” seem to progressively lose his magic touch but everything before that I’ve been able to see I’ve loved. Have you watched his first feature “Eika Katappa”? It’s a thing of wonder.

    Editions Filmmuseum announced they were going to restore all his works and release them on DVD but sadly they stalled out a few years ago after only releasing a handful. Guessing maybe his champion there left.

    Life is a bit chaotic here these days. More computer issues (an ongoing plague), work woes, family drama. The band recently performed two shows – our first in like 5 months – and those went well and the new tunes seemed to go over. The endless mixing of the recordings seems to be almost finished, which will be a huge relief.

    Completed a new sculptural installation titled ‘Blue Milk Exchange Rate’ and have been making good progress on drafting the new novel. Trying to stay immersed in that world. Feels like the narrative voice needs more charisma and struggling to figure that aspect out.

    Any news on the publication front? You mentioned a little while back a new fiction project possibly appearing as a slight itch. That starting to develop?

    Hope all’s well.

  4. Quinn R

    Hi Dennis, Quinn here again, hope you’re doing well! I must admit, I’m very under-educated on German cinema. European art house cinema in general I’m not so familiar with–my hometown in Connecticut is pretty tiny & growing up there weren’t any indie cinemas in close enough proximity. I always feel rather ignorant when I’m around people who love cinema. But I’ve been meaning to check out Fritz Lang and Fassbender, and why not add Werner Schroeter to the list.
    I’m doing pretty ok. Chaotic past few weeks but so far my February is far better than my January was. Actually some good news, I a bought a really cheap ticket to Paris for the week of May 18th. I hope you’ll be in town then? Would love to meet you & get a coffee, chill out, see what you get up to in Paris. What should I do while I’m in there? I’ll probably be staying with my French ex in the east side of Paris, not sure of his exact coordinates…
    How are you doing? Congrats on the critical biography that’s coming out soon–I think I follow the Diarmud guy on Twitter. What a terrific publication although I can also imagine you having compromised feelings about any attempts to codify your work or inscribe it into academia…What do you think? Hahah.
    Anyway hope all is well, and let me know if you’ll be around Paris at the end of May/if there’s any cool art shit I should check out. Ed White is going to give me some good referrals & my birthday will be happening, so yay!

  5. _Black_Acrylic

    Just watched Company of Wolves tonight and Diamonds of the Night the night previous. My DVD supplier Cinema Paradiso has a decent selection, I’ll give them that. Nothing by Schroeter sadly but I’ll be sure to keep an eye out.

    There’s a stage adaptation of Company of Wolves on soon at the New Vic theatre in Staffordshire, which is a long way from Dundee but the production does look pretty cool.

  6. David Ehrenstein

    Wow that’s Pascale Greggory (Patrice Chereau’s grand amour) in that clip from “Nuit de Chien”

  7. Steve Erickson

    Here’s my review of Mhysa’s new album NEVAEH:

    Tomorrow I am having my apartment professionally cleaned and de-cluttered. I am hoping that after this process is over I will feel a lot less anxiety, because right now I feel trapped in a deep hole I don’t know how to escape.

    I was happy to learn today that Schroeter’s New German Cinema colleague Ulrike Ottinger’s getting a New York retrospective next month!

  8. Misanthrope

    Dennis! Yeah, I looked up ol’ Matthiessen and he was a pretty interesting dude. Won the NBA for a nonfiction work and a fiction work, co-founded the Paris Review, was a Zen Buddhist priest, and worked for the CIA. He said late in the life that The Paris Review was originally a cover for CIA stuff. Seems plausible because a lot of intel agencies did that back in the day to get info on commies and to promote anti-communist writers and art. Ian McEwan’s novel Sweet Tooth is about that, but it’s MI6 in his book and not the CIA.

    I tell you, this In Paradise ain’t bad. Takes place at Auschwitz where a bunch of people have gone as a “retreat.” Kind of strange and I don’t know where it’s going because the narrator has no connection to Auschwitz other than having been born in Poland and immediately sent abroad with the rest of his paternal family. But the writing’s not bad and it’s got me turning the pages.

    Hahaha, yeah, Ginsberg. I still love the first four or so lines of “Howl.” I’d be lying if I said otherwise. Most of his other stuff…um, I’m not sold on it. 😀

    Three-day weekend for me because of Prez Day Monday. My orthopedist appointment is that day. Yuck.

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