A rare gem of cinematic storytelling that weaves docudrama, fictional reenactment, and experimental photography into a powerful, reflective work on the early days of German cinema. The film...
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Hans Christian Blech,
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After the wild life-style of a famous young German photographer almost gets him killed, he goes to Palermo, Sicily to take a break. Can the beautiful city and a beautiful local woman help him calm himself down?
A rare gem of cinematic storytelling that weaves docudrama, fictional reenactment, and experimental photography into a powerful, reflective work on the early days of German cinema. The film tells the story of the Skladanowsky Brothers, the German-born duo responsible for inventing the "bioskop", an early version of the film projector. Written by
Wenders amuses himself, and in the way reflects about some general principles of cinema as an art. Several times he has made interesting films that are themselves cinematic objects and reflections on the nature of the cinematic object. His primary concern is the images. Whenever he deepens the complexity of his narratives, he is aiming at highlighting images. Those are the cases of the very recent Palermo Shooting and the remarkable American Friend: images which illustrate a story about images. When he takes out that intelligent narrative, directly sensitive to the medium, we are left with meditations purely based on images. Sometimes they work, sometimes they drag.
Here it half-works, because the project, intentionally, lacks a bigger form other than that of the interview the old Skladanowsky gives. All the black and white bits are built as episodes and inside those episodes we find other episodes (the original Skladanowsky films). Apparently this started as an academic project, so that would explain the lack of a bigger form, as well as the inaptness of some short bits. That does not explain the almost unbearable ending.
But something interested me here. Wenders picks on something left behind almost at the beginning of cinema. Images as abstract motion pictures, detached of narrative. That's something i think is worth some time exploring, and obviously so did Wenders. So, among all the old remakes of the pioneering films, i was interested in the dance bit. Curiously enough, it is the bit which gets more attention even in the child story of the black and white flashbacks. It is the film that has to be remade. The clothing of the dancers help the effect. It's remarkable, how it works in the eye. I've been spending time watching experiences like that. Besides that, there's little else to see here. And i found totally misused the contrast between black and white footage and the color bits of the interview, which had an uncomfortable video look which put me off. The b&w was already grainy and looked old, they didn't need to look for such a contrast to make the point.
My opinion: 3/5
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