Werner Schroeter's unique melodramas about love and death are fascinating amalgamations of opera, theater and cinema elements. Art and kitsch, high and low brow, Maria Callas and Caterina Valente, myths and genre elements. The 2-disc DVD set presents the first two feature-length films by Schroeter in beautifully restored versions. Additionally it offers a new reconstruction of Schroeter's legendary two-screen projection Argila and excerpts of a talk with Werner Schroeter, lead by Dietrich Kuhlbrodt during the Werner Schroeter Tribute at the Viennale 2008.
Argila - West Germany 1969 - Written, photographed and directed by: Werner Schroeter - Cast: Carla Aulaula, Magdalena Montezuma, Gisela Trowe, Sigurd Salto - Produced by: Werner Schroeter Filmproduktion, München - Premiere: March 7, 1969 (Hamburger Filmschau)
Eika Katappa - West Germany 1969 - Written and directed bye: Werner Schroeter - Photographed by: Robert van Ackeren, Werner Schroeter - Cast: Carla Aulaula, Magdalena Montezuma, Gisela Trowe, Rosy-Rosy, René Schönberg, Sigurd Salto, Rosa von Praunheim - Produced by: Werner Schroeter Filmproduktion, München - Premiere: October 10, 1969 (Internationale Filmwoche Mannheim)
Der Tod der Maria Malibran (The Death of Maria Malibran) - West Germany 1971 - Written, photographed and directed by: Werner Schroeter - Cast: Magdalena Montezuma, Christine Kaufmann, Candy Darling, Manuela Riva, Ingrid Caven, Annette Tirier, Einar Hanfstaengl - Produced by: Werner Schroeter Filmproduktion, München / ZDF - Premiere: March 2, 1972 (ZDF)
About The Death of Maria Malibran
This bizarre film by one of the most original directors now working in Germany is hermetic, expressionist, oblique, and of a creative perversity that bespeaks the presence of a genius. Purporting to deal with a real-life 19th century diva 'whose popularity was such that over-exertion led to her death while singing,' the film is actually a grisly series of frozen or tortured tableaux (predominantly lesbian in implication) of heavily rouged, frequently ugly women who, pretending to sing heavy opera, go through contorted, icy attempts at communication that lead nowhere. The lip-sync is off; the singing is off-pitch; mouths are frequently open while no sound issues forth, or closed, with mellifluous arias or cheap popular songs heard on scratchy renditions of old records. Neither burlesque nor slapstick, the film's intent, at least in the beginning, is nevertheless ironical and subversive, though mysteriously so. However, it grows increasingly dark and more threatening, with screams, faces bathed in Vaseline, red, wet mouths, smeared eye shadows, and dehumanized figures. One cannot 'explain' Schroeter's work, other than recognize his debunking of opera as a metaphorical rejection of bourgeois society; but one trembles in recognition of a prospective major talent."
Amos Vogel, Film as a Subversive Art
DVD features (2-disc DVD set)
- Eika Katappa 1969, 143'
- Booklet with essays about Werner Schroeter
- Der Tod der Maria Malibran 1971, 104'
- Argila 1969, 36'
- Dietrich Kuhlbrodt im Gespräch mit Werner Schroeter 2010, 24'
Edited by: Filmmuseum München and Goethe-Institut München
DVD authoring: Ralph Schermbach
DVD supervision: Stefan Drössler
First Edition August 2010, Third edition November 2014