German Cinema

The Merchant of Four Seasons, 1972

Hans Epp (Hans Hirschmuller) betrays few traces of his eroding morale as he lyrically announces his daily merchandise into the open air. He is an unassuming fruit vendor, diligently making his rounds through the residential streets, accompanied by his highly critical wife, Irmgard (Irm Hermann). After chastising him for hand delivering an order to an… read more »

Katzelmacher, 1969

Austere, fragmented, and minimalist, Katzelmacher captures the inert lives of a group of aimless, financially struggling apartment dwellers on an anonymous residential city street. The film opens to an implicit shot of one of the residents, Erich (Hans Hirschmüller), parked alongside a grocery store, biding idle time in his car as his lover Marie (Hanna… read more »

A Woman in Berlin, 2008

Based on the autobiographical novel by a German international correspondent who published her wartime journal under the pseudonym Anonyma, Max Färberböck’s A Woman in Berlin presents a raw and sobering account of the waning days of World War II as the Russian army seized control of a town in war torn Berlin and, consequently, lorded… read more »

Longing, 2006

At the heart of Valeska Grisebach’s slender, yet meticulously observed slice of life portrait, Longing, is the seemingly ideal marriage of metalworker and volunteer firefighter, Markus (Andreas Müller) and his wife, Ella (Ilka Welz), a chorus singer who, in the film’s establishing sequences, casually describes their romantic union as the result, not of love at… read more »

The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser, 1974

There is an ominous, impressionistic cadence to Werner Herzog’s The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser: an obscured man in a rowboat, a woman rubbing clothes against a washboard, the sound of warbled music from a warped phonograph record. A brief, incidental foreword chronicles Kaspar Hauser’s mysterious appearance in a Nuremberg town square one Sunday morning in… read more »

Aguirre: The Wrath of God, 1972

Aguirre: The Wrath of God opens with an astonishing landscape shot of a mountain side in the heart of the Amazon jungle. Images of men, reduced to size of imperceptible dots, descend along the precariously steep trail, briefly disappear into the horizon, and reemerge into the foreground of another mountain. It is late 1560, and… read more »

Summer 04, 2006

Stefan Krohmer’s deceptively lyrical Summer 04 chronicles the unexpected, life altering summer vacation of domestic partners Mirjam (Martina Gedeck) and André (Peter Davor), and their teenage son Nils (Lucas Kotaranin) as they attempt to navigate through the murky, uncharted waters of romantic – and emotional – entanglements caused by the introduction of Nils’ precocious, 12… read more »

The Assault of the Present on the Rest of Time (The Blind Director), 1985

Curiously opening near the end of the second act of Tosca as the heroine (Maria Slatinaru) fends off the advances of Scarpia (Günther Reich), the corrupt police commissioner, the unexpectedly abrupt, in medias res performance of the Puccini opera provides an incisive prelude to the elliptical structure of Alexander Kluge’s “anonymous city” symphony, The Assault… read more »

The Power of Emotion, 1983

A subtly interconnecting mosaic of staged vignettes, non-fiction footage, archival prints, and found film excerpts, Alexander Kluge’s The Power of Emotion is an organic, densely layered meditation on the intangible (and often irrational) essential mechanism of human emotion. At the core of Kluge’s exposition is the interrelation between two disparate observations: 1) that objects, in… read more »

Strongman Ferdinand, 1976

Something of a wry spiritual ancestor to Harun Farocki’s 1990 found film montage, How to Live in the German Federal Republic on the pervasiveness of efficiency training and preparedness exercises in German society and their intrinsic reflection of a people’s stunted growth, repressed conformity, and evasion of human experience in a climate of increasing economic… read more »