Richard Wagner's last opera has remained controversial since its first performance for its unique, and, for some, unsavory blending of religious and erotic themes and imagery. Based on one ...
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Director Hans-Jurgen Syberberg examines the rise and fall of the Third Reich in this brooding seven-hour masterpiece, which incorporates puppetry, rear-screen projection, and a Wagnerian ... See full summary »
The story of the legendary King Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845-1886), his opera interest and friendship with theatre personalities such as Richard Wagner and Joseph Kainz, and at the same time a reflection of the German 1800s.
A man paves his own way to his own soul through an intellectual quest, tragedies of nations and personal drama. The road moving through the cosmic distances is a flight into one's internal ... See full summary »
Sabine vows to give up married lovers, and is determined to find a good husband. Her best friend Clarisse introduces her to her cousin Edmond, a busy lawyer from Paris. Sabine pursues ... See full summary »
In the industrial North, Giovanni is a skilled factory worker offered a promotion if he'll go to Sicily for 18 months to assist in a new department. His impending absence strains his ... See full summary »
Richard Wagner's last opera has remained controversial since its first performance for its unique, and, for some, unsavory blending of religious and erotic themes and imagery. Based on one of the medieval epic romances of King Arthur and the search for the holy grail (the chalice touched by the lips of Christ at the last supper), it recounts over three long acts how a "wild child" unwittingly invades the sacred precincts of the grail, fulfilling a prophecy that only such a one can save the grail's protectors from a curse fallen upon them. Interpreters of the work have found everything from mystical revelation to proto-fascist propaganda in it. Hans-Jurgen Syberberg's production doesn't avoid either aspect, but tries synthesize them by seeking their roots in the divided soul of Wagner himself. The action unfolds on a craggy landscape which turns out to be a gigantic enlargement of the composer's death mask, among deliberately tatty theatrical devices: puppets, scale models, ... Written by
Among the severed heads at the base of the broken phallus in Klingsor's castle (symbolizing the self-castration that gave the wizard his powers - this is one weird opera) are those of Karl Marx, Wagner himself...and Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher who was one of Wagner's most devoted champions until he broke with him over this very opera (he despised Christianity as a "slave" religion and thought Wagner had caved in to bourgeois morality). See more »
Back when I saw this film when it came out first run at the local art theater, it blew me away. When I tried to get into it again after locating a DVD copy, I couldn't sit through it. Most of the trappings of Syberburg's much-vaunted style have the feel of artsy gimmicks of his hot period, the late 70s and early 80s. The puppets, which are part of this scene, don't bother me half as much as the projection of images over everything on stage, and the shifting video slide show backgrounds. This technique seems to have been a solution that Syberburg believed in deeply-- and to feel he was leading the avant pack in using. But a solution to what, I'm not sure. To break up basically static tableau setups, yes. To speak to the wide-wandering emotional interior state of the films participants, certainly. But why make the film auditorium-bound in the first place if it's restless, ceaseless movement you crave? --Budget limitations? --Because you feel challenged or amused tinkering around with active/static dynamics? Either of these reasons is acceptable to me, but I don't find the fruit of this experimentation especially successful, or more, very durable.
The music is great, and I DO yearn for something more eccentric or intense than the standard PBS/Met production with guys standing around bellowing in obvious crepe whiskers and stage dirt. But this film goes arty in a way that doesn't speak to many people any more, and as far as I'm concerned, it way overshoots the crazed artist mark. A little less please.
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