Morality and German Film: The Berlinale 2000: A Review of the Berlin International Film Festival February 7-18, 2000
- Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies
- Center for the Study of Film and History
- Volume 30, Number 2, 2000
- pp. 75-77
- Additional Information
class time for presentation and discussion. Each show spins off broader issues which anchor the mind and product of the cultures /civilizations under class consideration. There is enough story and conflict to hold the attention of the most resistant student viewer. The goal of history "on film" is to get behind the doors to whatever remains ofthe human past and whatever that historical reality is. Motion picture features have their own grounding in history as a product of the values and technologies of a 20th century time; documentary is another matter. Too often the history gets trapped in the contrivances and aesthetics offilm (and this applies also to study ofthefeaturefilm). Or, putanotherway, inthe selfposing styleofthe documentarymaker. Historical documentaries, especially thoseproduced forthe new cable market, often sacrifice the semblance ofreality for a sensational plot hook for the general audience, resorting to either a few costumed individuals who "represent" the people and actions ofthe past (the tight shot on the eight marching feet that are supposedtobethemarchoftheRomanlegions) ortoblackandwhite archive footage from the early days ofmotion pictures (Intolerance, theAmerican orEuropean epics ofmassive Roman armies clashing, volcanoes erupting, Romans orgiastically relaxing) as if, somehow, the black white is supposed to show a historical "reality" whether or not the original motion picture was concerned at all with "authenticity ." There is also an over reliance on montage sequences, repeated sometimes ^terminably, which are supposed to "be" a historical reality ( repeating close up images of a sword slashing and dripping blood, the image of a howling she-wolfto represent the violence of Rome, the same African American slave ninning through the brush again and again in the underground railroad, etc.). Well, these are, I know only too well, the ambivalent tooling thatthehistorianquafilmmakerhas touseifhe/sheis to attempt atall the "documenting" of history. However, in this series Nova illustrates another way. The producer does history, but the shows are aware ofthe distancebetweentheprofilmic andtheputative (the first virtue needed in making documentary film). And, at the same time the film is connecting with the values and people ofthe past through the very concrete and shared experience oftechnology. When the modern science and art ofhistory was shaped at the end ofthe 19th century, Wilhelm Dilthey stood out among the positivisthistorians ofthe eraby his attempt to get atthe mind ofthe past through the art, artifacts, products ofits peoples. It was not only the pyramidswhichwereimportant, butthetechnologyofcloth, ofpainting , ofceramics and artifacts in context. These openedthe doorfrom the present to the past mind. This Geisteswissenschaft is in fact (whether or not acknowledged) the foundation on which studies of film and history rest. How much Dilthey (as dour as he was) would have exulted in this double thrust provided by the use offilm and the use oftechnology! Patrick H. Griffin College ofthe Canyons and El Camino College PHGriffin@aol.com Regular Feature | Film Reviews Morality and German Film: The Berlinale 2000 A Review of the Berlin International Film Festival February 7-18, 2000 Since its establishment in 1950, the Berlin International Film Festival (the "Berlinale") has been an important barometer of Cold War politics in the divided city of Berlin. Now that Germany is unified, the Festival has taken on a new role: as the single largest international cultural event in Germany, itpresents an important media image to the world. This year was especially important, as the 50th anniversary of the grounding of the Festival and the first year in which the Festival would take place in the hypermodern complex in the newly remodeled Potsdamer Platz, the once and future center of the city. The Jury, headed by Chinese actress Gong Li, awarded the Golden Bear, the grand prize, to Paul Thomas Anderson for Magnolia, and the Silver Bear to Wim Wenders for The Million Dollar Hotel. Two other German films also garnered awards: Volker Schlòndorff's Die Stille nach dem Schuss (The Silence after the Shot) won the Blue Bear for the best European film, and RudolfThome's Paradiso: Sieben Tage mitSieben Frauen (Paradiso: SevenDays with Seven Women) received an award for the ensemble acting. Of the 21 films in the Competition at the Festival, three were German, more than had been seen at the Competition for some time. Even more surprisingly, all three ofthe German...