A magical world – in every sense. It is enchanted, sometimes miracles happen, and yet it is all eternally kooky and whimsical. Sometimes, it is not even easy to decide how much of it Federico Fellini takes seriously himself. But let it be up to the critics, aesthetes and primarily the viewers to decide how to interpret this special world.
The new Müpa Film Club series does not wish to further polish Fellini´s halo. It is shiny enough as it is. Instead, it intends to reveal those details that were somehow lost in all the impassioned adulation showered on the director/creator. Those were different times, so the great theories and noble thoughts easily distracted attention from the finer points of Fellini´s cinematic language. It is in Fellini´s personal mythology that dreams, memories and reality cascade together. And all this would be fine. However, there are rhymes and returning elements in his ouevre from which this strange world is built. Bizarre costumes and vehicles, threatening machines. Statues, iconic buildings, wall paintings and scrawls regularly appear in his films. His is a world that is incredibly exciting in the way it combines its everyday experience with fragments of the former Roman Empire. Elsewhere, we find Christian tradition. Hagiography, recreations of the actions of the saints, miracles and religious rituals – all of which are mixed with pagan ceremonies. It is worth taking a closer look at the collossuses that repeatedly appear in the films – giant heads, coffins, ships, billboards, and so on. Constantly returning themes of the films are fog and smoke. And what about the circus? With its clowns, acrobatic horsewomen and assorted performers? But we might also discuss how the director strikes down high-flying, sacred notions with a profane gesture here and there. And here come the characters. If a person has seen more than one Fellini film, they could not have helped noticing that, among the credible-seeming, realistic characters, caricatures regularly pop up, too. It would be too simple to explain it away by stating that Federico Fellini made a crust drawing caricatures, among other things, at the start of his career. It would also be worth talking about the animals appearing in his films, about how photographers and filmmakers get mixed up in his stories, what the sea is bringing and taking away, whether the endless processions represent the arrival of the circus people or rather the images of some kind of modern danse macabre parading before us. Very much worth talking about. Well then, let's talk!
By the early 1970s, Europe’s new-wave revolutions were roaring across the film world. In the FRG, however, it was only then that New German Cinema emerged, bringing excitement to movie screens that continues today. It is not the external world its protagonists are at war with, as the world, the era and history have all already eaten their way deep inside them.
Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wim Wenders, Werner Herzog, Volker Schlöndorff – an impressive list. Very different artists. Fassbinder was the most sensitive of them when it came to exploring how personalities are shaped by social influences. Wenders’s heroes are looking for their place, their home, in a globalising world. (At that time, the term ‘globalisation’ was still relatively obscure.) In Werner Herzog’s films always address the dilemmas of savagery and civilisation, and of primary and secondary nature. Schlöndorff, for his part, is an unwavering moralist bent on constantly exploring how long an individual’s capacity for moral tolerance can last. What is it that connects them all to each other? More than anything else, the fact that their protagonists are left to their own devices when compelled to make a decision. The filmmakers behind New German Cinema are the chroniclers of an age in which the community is growing increasingly uncertain. This is no longer the age of lone justice-seeking heroes, who may once have felt that they were acting in the name or interest of some community, but one of solitary individuals who have to carry a disproportionately large burden. The last work in the series deviates, in a sense, from this general theme. The Wim Wenders film Faraway, So Close! (1993) is already entering a new era after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, with many changes afoot across Europe. As with German cinema itself. But this is another story, one in which we ourselves are also actors here and now.