Author Topic: Christian Petzold  (Read 3589 times)

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wilder

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Christian Petzold
« on: July 02, 2012, 06:35:20 PM »
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Christian Petzold was born September 14, 1960, in Hilden, as the oldest of three sons. He grew up in Haan, where he went to school and finished his high school degree in 1979. After finishing civil service, Christian Petzold went to Berlin in 1981 and started to study German studies and dramatics at Freie Universität Berlin. After his graduation in 1989, Petzold continued to study at Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin (dffb). During his studies, Christian Petzold worked as an assistant director for Hartmut Bitomsky and Harun Farocki – who contributed to all of Petzold’s later feature films – and worked as a film critic for several newspapers and magazines.

After several short films, including Süden and Das warme Geld, Petzold finished his graduation film for dffb, Pilotinnen, in 1994. The film production company Schramm Film Koerner & Weber participated in the production of Pilotinnen and Petzold continued to collaborate with the production company.

In 2000, Petzold followed his critically praised TV movies Cuba Libre and Die Beischlafdiebin with the movie production Die innere Sicherheit (The State I Am In). Besides the German movie award in Gold for best film, the intense drama about a young adolescent and her parents who are wanted as terrorists won numerous awards and finally turned Christian Petzold into one of the most influential filmmakers of contemporary German cinema.



Theatrical Films

Phoenix (2014) - Criterion Blu-ray, UK Blu-ray
Barbara (2012) - Blu-ray from Kino
Jerichow (2008) – Cinema Guild DVD
Yella (2007)  - Cinema Guild DVD, also available from Artificial Eye (superior transfer)
Gespenter (2005) – Cinema Guild DVD
Wolfsburg (2003) – German DVD (no subtitles)
The State I Am In (2000) – Cinema Guild DVD

TV Movies

Kreise (2015), Polizeiruf 110 s44e03 - no official release
Beats Being Dead (2011) – German Blu-ray (no subtitles)
Something to Remind Me (2002) – German DVD (no subtitles)
Die Beischlafdiebin (1998) – no official release
Cuba Libre (1996) – no official release
Pilotinnen (1995) – no official release

Documentaries on Petzold

Der Filmemacher Christian Petzold AKA Kinomagazin: Passages - The Filmmaker Christian Petzold (2005) – no official release


Articles and Interviews

The Cinema of Identification Gets on my Nerves: An Interview with Christian Petzold
Passages - The Filmmaker Christian Petzold or PDF (translated)
Intensifying Life: The Cinema of the Berlin School by Marc Abel

Interview - with MMeansMovie
Interview - for Jerichow
Interview - for Jerichow with Schnitt
Interview - for Yella with TimeOut London
Interview - for Yella with Sign and Sight
Interview - Christian Petzold, Hans Fromm (DP), and Bettina Böhler (Editor) for Gespenter (PDF)

Yella Essay – German Desire in the Age of Venture Capitalism by Marc Abel
Gespenter Director’s Notes


Video Interviews

Christian Petzold on Communication
Brief video interview for Jerichow


Short Video Essay – Deceptive Surfaces: The Films of Christian Petzold


« Last Edit: August 03, 2016, 07:06:00 PM by wilder »

wilder

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Re: Christian Petzold
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2013, 04:08:16 PM »
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Article from the Goethe Institut.

In the Realm of the Shades: Christian Petzold’s Films

Christian Petzold, native son of provincial Germany, paints a very precise picture of small-town life in his films: witness his latest, “Jerichow”, which hit German cinemas in early 2009.

If one had to say what’s distinctive about Christian Petzold’s films, it might be that he gives a more exact picture of Germany than anyone else. You can’t helping feeling that, if in a hundred ears someone wanted to know what it was like here at the beginning of the millennium, all they’d have to do is watch Die innere Sicherheit or Gespenster, Yella or Jerichow. And that’s like as not the reason why he’s the only German director whose every motion picture has been screened at major festivals, whether at the Berlinale or the Venice Biennale, which focus more than other festivals on films that are somehow edifying, somehow revealing, about their country of origin.

Searching for his own angle on the world

So Petzold’s own provenance may signify: he was born in Hilden, North Rhine-Westphalia, in 1960, and grew up in neighbouring Haan: two small towns between Düsseldorf and Solingen, in his own words “a petty-bourgeois in-between part of Germany sectioned up into terraced houses and housing estates, a dormitory suburb with a big junction box and a pond at the town library where you sit on the bench with a couple beers of an evening and tell stories.” He says he’s always been interested in exploring what it means to have spent his youth there and searching for his own angle on the world and on life.

At least that was reason enough for him to head off for Berlin at 20 to study at the German Academy of Film and Television (Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie, dffb), graduating in 1994 with a TV movie called Pilotinnen (“Pilots”). Had the movie reached more than just a TV audience, Petzold’s exceptional talent would have been spotted back then: it tracks two travelling perfume saleswomen of different ages trying to hold on to their dreams between cheap hotels, roadhouses and small town drugstores. What was new about the picture was not the focus on the dreariness of their everyday existence, but a curiosity about living conditions that tend to get sketchy treatment, at best, in other German films. After two more pictures for television, Cuba Libre and Die Beischlafdiebin, Petzold made the breakthrough into the world of German cinema – and to the Venice Biennial with Die innere Sicherheit (“The Inner Security” aka “The State I Am In”).

The ghost of terrorism

That was back in 2000, and the film did a brilliant job of bridging the chasm between the Neuer Deutscher Film (New German Cinema), which in the 1970s had made no bones of its sympathies for the RAF (Red Army Faction), and the present age, in which terrorism can be viewed in historical perspective. “The State I Am In”, about a terrorist couple who go underground in Portugal, is told from the viewpoint of their daughter, who yearns for nothing more than the normal life of a teenager. Petzold was the first to call the ghost of terrorism by its proper name, something a whole generation of German filmmakers before him had shrunk from doing, and he encapsulated it in the story of a family seeking a place to call home between the legacy of Germany’s past and present-day German reality in the new millennium.

In his subsequent TV feature, Toter Mann (“Dead Man” aka “Something to Remind Me”), Petzold pays homage to Helmut Käutner’s forgotten masterpiece Unter den Brücken (“Under the Bridges”), which attempted a kind of flight from Nazi reality into poetic realism in the penultimate year of the war. And that Petzold’s his first picture with Nina Hoss, who was to become his leading lady and his muse of sorts.

In Wolfsburg she confronts the hit-and-run driver who ran over her son, but for Petzold the drama is not more important than the setting – hence his refusal to move the story to Ingolstadt to get federal funding: he was interested in the special atmosphere in the test-tube town of Wolfsburg, its drawing-board architecture that strives to find just the right procrustean form for everyday life, which is constantly eluding it, however, whether through a tragic accident or otherwise.

Homeless spirits

The “in-between Germany” Petzold conjures up is by no means a wilful fabrication, but the real lie of the land once you get past its tourist sights. But German filmmakers generally avoid these parts of the country, where there is supposedly nothing to see: only Petzold feels at home in this “in-between” realm, which provides the ideal backdrop for his homeless spirits.

So it is in Gespenster (“Ghosts”), in which his heroines find an unlikely home in the surreal architecture of Potsdamer Platz. Or in Yella, set in depopulated Eastern Germany, whose anonymous hotel and office buildings provide a home for a woman who is no longer of this world. Or now in Jerichow, which replays the story of Visconti’s Ossessione between currywurst stands and the Baltic Sea strand in the deserted town of Prignitz. Nina Hoss – in the lead once again – plays a woman who, to escape a shady past, weds an older Turkish small-time businessman – only to fall for a younger man, whom she then lures into committing murder. A drama of passion at first glance – but on closer scrutiny we find it is the landscape that tells the real story: windswept Prignitz in-between Berlin and the Baltic.

And so Christian Petzold wends his solitary way through this “in-between” land of the shades, which he treats with touching and trenchant tenderness – though it is always a matter of life and death.

Michael Althen (1962–2011)
worked as film editor for the German newspaper FAZ and directed the film “Auge in Auge - Eine deutsche Filmgeschichte” (with Hans Helmut Prinzler).

Translation: Eric Rosencrantz
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Online-Redaktion

wilder

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Re: Christian Petzold
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2013, 06:23:08 PM »
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Match Factory rises with Petzold's Phoenix
via ScreenDaily

EXCLUSIVE: German sales outfit The Match Factory has launched sales on Phoenix, the new feature from Silver Bear winning director Christian Petzold.


The film, at financing stage and due to shoot in the autumn, will again star Petzold’s regular collaborator Nina Hoss, who also appeared in Yella (2007), Jerichow (2008) and in last year’s Berlinale and box-office success Barbara (2012).

The Match Factory has already sealed pre-sales for France (Diaphana), Benelux (A-Film), Italy (BIM) and Switzerland (Look Now!). Further territories are expected to be concluded in Cannes.

While Barbara was set in the German Democratic Republic of the early 1980s, Phoenix goes back to the post-Second World War era, focussing on a woman who has survived the Holocaust. Presumedly dead, she returns home under a new identity to find out if her husband betrayed her.

Hoss stars alongside Ronald Zehrfeld.

“We are looking forward to another cooperation with Florian Koerner von Gustorf and Michael Weber of Schramm Film,” said Match Factory MD Michael Weber (no relation).

“We have worked with Christian Petzold on four films now are excited and confident about the reception of Phoenix on the international market.”

Barbara was a big seller for The Match Factory, going to 40 territories and generating significant box-office receipts worldwide.

wilder

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Re: Christian Petzold
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2013, 04:14:47 AM »
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PDF for Gespenter containing extended interviews with Petzold, his cinematographer Hans Fromm, and his editor Bettina Böhler detailing their work process.

wilder

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Re: Christian Petzold
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2013, 09:47:23 PM »
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MoMA is doing a Berlin School retrospective this month, and along with the event they've published a great new book full of color photographs and essays by the filmmakers themselves.

I took some pictures of the introduction, as this book seems a perfect response to what Pubrick posted in the Barbara thread over a year ago.

the interviews were fun to read, the first one was one of the most intellectual discussions I've read in promotion of a film. You'd never see an American director talk like that about movies, not outside a specialized documentary anyway, like Scorsese given free rein to talk about his favourite colours and where he got them from.

There's a trend in serious European films where they always feel like they were made for a university course.. from Burnt By The Sun, to The Lives Of Others, even with contemporary films like those of Fatih Akin that have nothing to do with the Soviet era.. anywhere you look they all have this component of political and historical context that is often very obvious and intentionally put there to be discussed.

If anyone wonders why all these "boring" European dramas always win so many awards overseas and then get crammed into the foreign film category in the Oscars, it's not cos they're boring,  just that American audiences have no idea how to approach them.

Introduction:







Beginning around 15 years ago, a loose affiliation of scholars, writers and filmmakers living in Berlin began presenting films that offered a new, aesthetically driven form of political cinema. Abandoning the post-totalitarian context embraced by most commercially popular German films at the time, these films pursued a stylized realism to explore and address a national crisis of identity and purpose. Films like Christian Petzold's Die Innere Sicherheit (The State I Am In) and Angela Schanelec's Mein langsames Leben (Passing Summer) marked the first movement within German cinema to push the art form forward since filmmakers like Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog and Margarethe von Trotta established New German Cinema in the 1960s and 1970s. Published to accompany the first extensive screenings of these films in the United States, The Berlin School presents an engrossing overview of the movement. Essays by curators, film critics and filmmakers associated with the Berlin School place the movement in a larger historical context and examine the influence of collaborative communities that developed around the Berlin Film Festival. Building on MoMA's long history of research around German cinema, The Berlin School provides a foundation for new scholarship on contemporary German filmmaking.

The Berlin School: Films from the Berliner Schule - Amazon

wilder

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Re: Christian Petzold
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2015, 02:57:21 PM »
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Quote from: repeat, Criterion Forum
Petzold's latest work Kreise (Circles) was aired in Germany last Sunday, it's available for viewing online with German subs (wait, see below) until next Sunday. It's a part of the long-running Polizeiruf 110 cop series, but is for all intents and purposes a stand-alone Petzold film - maybe not a major one, but with all familiar obsessions present and accounted for: work, love and money, forests, cars (the central one, of course, a red one), surveillance cameras - and even a new one: model railways! Killer needle drops (diegetic as always) too, as per usual. Also his funniest dialogue so far.

The story and dialogue is fairly easy follow with the German subs for anyone with any grasp of the language, but for those interested, I'm four-fifths through with translating the subtitles into English, should have them online tomorrow (unless they start debating Heidegger in the last 20 minutes, that is).

There's a good German-language interview in epd-Film, where he also mentions that he's already written a sequel, and mentions the reference films for both Kreise (Le Petit lieutenant, Claude Miller's Garde à vue, and Journey to Italy) and the sequel (Klute, Ferrara's Dangerous Game and Creature from the Black Lagoon - now THIS should be something to look forward to!)

wilder

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Re: Christian Petzold
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2015, 09:32:03 PM »
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Interview begins at 1:38 (in English)

There's also a new book on Petzold by Jaimey Fisher

wilder

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Re: Christian Petzold
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2015, 06:50:25 AM »
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Quote from: The Los Angeles Times
The eerie mood and questions raised by "Phoenix" have intrigued Petzold. He said his next film will be set in the 1940s in the French town of Marseille as refugees hide and hurry to catch boats to Mexico as the German army closes in. Part of him, he said, wants to capture the aura and verve of German filmmakers, such as Fritz Lang and Max Ophüls, who fled to America to escape Hitler.

"The light from Germany went to the U.S.A. in the 1930s," he said. "We have to bring the light and style back to Germany, especially the noir which was created by Austrian and German refugees."

wilder

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Re: Christian Petzold
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2016, 05:45:50 PM »
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‘Barbara’ & ‘Phoenix’ Director Christian Petzold To Helm Refugee Drama ‘Transit’
via The Playlist

Petzold will direct an adaptation Anna Seghers‘s classic novel, “Transit.” Set at the cusp of WWII after Germany invades France, the story follows a man who escapes a Nazi concentration and flees to Marseilles, where he’s tasked with an assignment that will bring him an intimate understanding of the plight of refugees. Here’s the book synopsis:

Having escaped from a Nazi concentration camp in Germany in 1937, and later a camp in Rouen, the nameless twenty-seven-year-old German narrator of Seghers’s multilayered masterpiece ends up in the dusty seaport of Marseille. Along the way he is asked to deliver a letter to a man named Weidel in Paris and discovers Weidel has committed suicide, leaving behind a suitcase containing letters and the manuscript of a novel. As he makes his way to Marseille to find Weidel’s widow, the narrator assumes the identity of a refugee named Seidler, though the authorities think he is really Weidel. There in the giant waiting room of Marseille, the narrator converses with the refugees, listening to their stories over pizza and wine, while also gradually piecing together the story of Weidel, whose manuscript has shattered the narrator’s “deathly boredom,” bringing him to a deeper awareness of the transitory world the refugees inhabit as they wait and wait for that most precious of possessions: transit papers.

wilder

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Re: Christian Petzold
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2018, 01:31:55 AM »
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The first reviews of Transit, which premiered yesterday at Berlin


Quote
SPOILERS

‘Transit’ Review: Christian Petzold’s Beguiling Refugee Romance Is Like a Kafkaesque ‘Casablanca’ — Berlinale 2018
February 17, 2018
By David Ehrlich

The director of "Phoenix" rises from the ashes with another beguiling drama about the specter of fascism.



A man arrives in purgatory, eager to learn his eternal fate. The divine judgement, however, is slow to arrive. The minutes turn to hours, the hours turn to days, and the days begin to blur together in a place where time has no meaning. Eventually, after what feels to him like a hundred years, the man begs for a verdict. “What are you talking about?” comes the reply. “You’ve been in hell since you got here.”

That grim parable is told to Georg (“Happy End” breakout Franz Rogowski) roughly halfway into Christian Petzold’s “Transit,” and yet the poor bastard doesn’t seem to realize that it’s about him. The inscrutable hero of an inscrutable film that unfolds like a remake of “Casablanca” as written by Franz Kafka, Georg has just escaped occupied Paris by the skin of his teeth, stowing away on a train to the port of Marseille. He doesn’t have much left to his name, and even that has become a luxury he can’t afford; in fact, Georg’s only hope for safe passage to Mexico is to assume the identity of a writer named Weidel, who committed suicide and left behind his visa papers. Georg’s ship is scheduled to sail in three weeks, but who knows what that means in a nightmare like Marseilles, where the only people welcome are those who can prove they’re leaving, and even the year is impossible to determine.

And so we arrive at the driving conceit behind Petzold’s beguiling “Transit,” which the “Phoenix” director has boldly adapted from Anna Seghers’ 1944 novel of the same name: The film is unstuck in history. Unlike the source material, it doesn’t take place in World War II, or even establish that World War II ever happened. The Nazis are still German, but they’ve been re-branded as generic fascists. And yet, while it was clearly shot on the streets of modern-day France (the roads hum with electric cars, and the cinematography isn’t aged in any way), Petzold’s telling isn’t necessarily set in the present. Digital technology is nonexistent, and the most relevant cultural reference comes when Georg mentions “The Dawn of the Dead” (and not even Zack Snyder’s version, one would assume).




This temporal confusion is never explicitly addressed, Petzold regarding his premise with the blunt senselessness of a dysfunctional bureaucracy. Wedged somewhere between fact and allegory, “Transit” trains one eye on the past and one eye on the present, until — like a Magic Eye illusion — they blur together in the middle, creating a new image that belongs to both and neither. Every refugee crisis is different, and every refugee crisis is the same.

What variations there are can be hard to spot, as the greatest commonality between exiles of various eras is that all of them are made to feel invisible. The dead are buried, but the desolate are just left to rot on the street. Watching Petzold’s characters mill about the sweaty visa offices and trap-like motels of Marseilles, the most crucial quote from Ai Weiwei’s “Human Flow” comes to mind: “Being a refugee is the most pervasive kind of cruelty that can be exercised against a human being. You are forcibly robbing this human being of all aspects that would make this human life not just tolerable, but meaningful in many ways.”




It’s that stranded, existential meaninglessness that Petzold is aiming to achieve, albeit it in a roundabout way that avoids contemporary signifiers as though they would only get in the way. Little distinction is made between the various refugees; the white characters might be granted a certain hope of getting across the ocean, but everyone is ultimately in the same boat. Even the people who manage to secure a magic visa for the transatlantic voyage all seem to wind up back in the same bar, having been displaced by army officers or foiled by some other cosmic occurrence.

Inevitably, people fall in love just to pass the time, at least until they learn that time doesn’t pass. A dead ringer for Joaquin Phoenix (all the way down to the scar above his upper lip), Georg keeps crossing paths with a mysterious brunette named Marie (Paula Beer), who likes to tap him on his shoulder before running away. Marie is shacking up with a mustached doctor (Godehard Giese), but it’s hard to parse the geometry between them, even as the characters begin to sort themselves into a halfhearted triangle. As Seghers once described the situation, this is a story in which “Two men fight over a woman, but the woman in fact loves a third man, who is already dead.”

It’s a predicament with no satisfying resolution, just a lot of uninterested flirtation and empty acts of sacrifice. “Transit” isn’t much of a comedy, but it only gets funnier as the surreality of its premise takes hold, and every attempt at leaving Marseille ends in morbid amusement. Imagine if Ilsa and Laszlo’s plane exploded on its way out of Casablanca, and the pair of them just showed up at Rick’s the next day like it was the natural thing to do.

And yet, the more that Petzold’s film finds its rhythm, the more you feel the absence of any greater emotional undertow. These characters never become more than ciphers for some abstract horror, their humanity only bubbling to the surface when the narrator (the local bartender, of course) begins to describe his memory of them. It’s only during these brief moments that we can fully appreciate Georg’s disarray or the contours of Marie’s crisis.

Petzold may not care about any of that, but his version of “Transit” is made to contend with obstacles that Seghers never introduced into the source material, and the film’s main gimmick — more successful than not — compounds the extent to which these characters were slippery constructs to begin with. The result is a film that lucidly traces the specter of fascism (never extinguished, always waiting to exhale), and how unreal it feels for it to cast its shadow across Europe once more. It’s also a film that feels stuck between stations, so doggedly theoretical that it borders on becoming glib. Once you realize that Georg is trapped in hell, there’s nowhere for his story to go.

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‘Transit’ and the state of aimlessness
February 18, 2018
By Kareem Baholzer

Christian Petzold tells emotionally rich, often female-led stories, which he intertwines closely with the settings they are located in. But he is most of all known for the stunning conclusions of his narratives – these moments have often been considered the best parts of his work, films like Phoenix and Barbara seem to only come full circle during their last beats. The reason for that, is Petzold’s way of letting the temporal and spatial aspects of the narrative fade into the background for a moment, narrowing his gaze down on the humanist, universal and timeless truths that the characters are confronted with.

With Transit, a mainly Marseille-set story about a man that gets caught up in complications of love and identity while trying to flee Europe as a refugee, it seems like he wants to reshape the way he tells these stories – the film is a logical and very bold step forward in the context of his body of work.



The film is an adaptation of Anna Segher’s World War II novel with the same name, but while the narrative is similar in general plot points and dialogue, the film removes it from its original historical context and reframes it into a modern-day setting. One would expect Petzold to adjust the story to that new setting, but he doesn’t. It’s very strange and feels borderline kafkaesque, but it works immensely well. The narrative manages to comment on its real-life context by highlighting universality instead of being specifically descriptive – the refugees of today’s Europe get a part of their story told too, even though the book template is broadly based on the experiences of refugees more than 70 years ago.

Petzold shows what a visionary auteur he truly is. Transit is a grand (and maybe all-time great) humanist elegy to the state of aimlessness and uncertainty, that manages to capture parts of the mindset of refugees in the same breath as the deeply resonant, human feeling of being in a state of limbo – there is no way back, and the future is a puzzle. This also ties into the main theme that flows through Christian Petzold’s body of work, the mystery of identity. As an example: In a 2012 interview for Zeit Online about Barbara, the director linked the concept of identity to the way humans function in the system – in terms of interhuman connection, but especially related to how western women have for many years been defined through their work, since societal constructs and expectations pressured their identities into certain templates and left little room for individualism.

But in every single one of his other works too, the mystery and the essence of identity, how they shift and get lost, found and re-invented, play a huge role in the characters lives. Transit once again examines this theme, it portrays how with fleeing there also is a desire to reinvent oneself in a way that has some sort of self-owned control. The necessity of reinvention after one’s life gets disrupted unwillingly is obvious. But the will for a good life in the future, a life that is not anymore controlled by chance and the cruelty of the world, but by oneself is even greater.

Petzold introduces this theme through the attendance of love, the journey these characters are going on is one that seems much easier through mutual, real love – something that is not bound to circumstances, something that exists in a vacuum and that is connected to the mentioned control. He poses the question: Is there a point in a continuation of life without a perspective of love? For the characters there isn’t. A sense of security that love brings is needed as the stepping stone for a Transit in life – the next level of uncertainty in life seems pointless without a checkpoint, without a purpose. But it also means letting go of the past, of past loves, of past emotions – something that is difficult by nature. These complications accompany the story that Transit tells, and finally define it in its final act.

Marseille, a city shaped by its position close to the sea, a city that encapsulates a port atmospherically and visually (and in this case also thematically), is the perfect setting for this narrative, and Petzold manages to give it a warm and quiet texture that is permanently confronted by the urgency of the narrative. It’s a visually understated film, but it looks beautiful and it also finds some beauty in that aimlessness that the narrative brings. Uncertainty is a part of the human condition and its something very natural, and thus – in its own way – beautiful. Cafés play a huge role in the setting, they are the place where people meet, where connections are made and lost, where many things happen on the inside. They portray some sort of hope for the future, since you never know who is gonna come through the door in the next moment.



In the next big role after her breakout in Francois Ozon’s Frantz, Paula Beer shines as Marie, a woman clinging onto the remains of the past. The searching nature that shapes her aura, is permanently reaching through the screen. She has a face that works like a landscape, every emotion she feels can be seen and felt. Beer’s acting is so accomplished, because she knows exactly how to work her expressive face, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else in her place. Her presence is a part of the narrative, since it explains why Georg, played by rising star Franz Rogowski, feels so connected and fascinated by her, besides the bigger narrative-based reasons that play into their relationship. Latter captures his character to an all-encompassing extent, he fluidly transforms himself into Georg, his face and his interactions permanently radiate the uncertainty that defines his character. The casting of these leads is perfect in its complementariness, like two damaged fragments they fit together in some way, even though its not clear in which one exactly.

I feel like Transit might get the acclaim it truly deserves only over time, being a very unusual film that might be easier digestible on a rewatch – but all the same, I do think that this is an incredible work of art, one that works through strong human emotions, and an incredibly innovative attempt at storytelling, only possible within the realm of cinema. It’s one of the most interesting and accomplished dramas I have seen in a long time, but it’s also a monument of empathy towards the people that are currently confronted with the reality of the state of Transit, not only from an allegorical perspective, but from a literal one.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

by theomac93:

Off the back of career high (and also his first film not to premiere in Germany in years) Phoenix, veteran director Christian Petzold returns to Competition at Berlinale with an anti-thriller that blends American noir sensibility with the moralising of Michael Haneke. Transit takes place in an alternate present (or maybe past) where Germany is still in power after world war 1, and is rounding up refugees and dissidents. The man with Joaquin Phoenix's mouth and Jean Paul Belmondo's nose, Franz Rogowski, plays a concentration camp survivor who stays safe with the identity of a dead writer, something like Morvern Callar, except where Lynne Ramsey takes her character into uncharted territory, Petozld plants his firmly in a circular and liminal world. Phoenix has a masterful screenplay where the protagonist returns from a concentration camp with facial reconstruction surgery and her lover does not recognise her, yet in Transit the character is anonymous, has only intentions of fleeing to Mexico, and emotion is substituted for concerns of male transience and nihilism.

Crucially, there are no attempts to change or hide the film's contemporary reality, so present-day Marseilles is depicted exactly as we know it, with Napoletana pizza on the menu and kids in polyester football shorts. The effects of this are twofold: we are reminded of humanity's rush to declare its hands as clean of the mess of human history after the war, and how in this century we have seen the treatment of immigrants and refugees in Europe revert to a similar standard of that in Nazi Germany. In this sense, Petzold's film is moralistic, although the urgency of this is perhaps tampered by the sun-bleached noir aesthetic relating to the harassed mind of Rogowski's protagonist. He is like if Robert Mitchum's masculine self-assurance dissipated into the preoccupation of rolling cigarettes. The film also features the mould of a femme fatale, Paula Beer, who as an actor is able to convey feelings of nostalgia and vulnerability, but as a character serves more as a means of supplying feeling behind the male's expressionless mask. Transit falters because its appeal to modern morality gets derailed by a love relationship already better articulated by Phil Marlowe: "to say goodbye is to die a little".

JG

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Re: Christian Petzold
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2018, 03:06:15 AM »
+1
I saw transit in Berlin and I thought it was incredible. That said, all of those reviews say way too much and  over explain what they think the movie is trying to do. The ehrlich review strikes me as particularly awful.  I knew nothing going into this and I think that's how it should be!

Edit: after re reading the reviews, it's really only the ehrlich review that one should avoid.

Just Withnail

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Re: Christian Petzold
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2018, 10:51:20 AM »
0
You still in Berlin JG? Let's grab coffee or drinks.

 

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