In September, Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai will be screening 8 German films each from another decade. The programme features milestones of German Cinema such as Fritz Lang's epoche-making science-fiction film "Metropolis" and the Herzog/Kinski collaboration "Nosferatu the Vampyre".
20s: Metropolis - Monday, 03 Sep. 2012, 6.30 pm
Director: Fritz Lang, s/w, 153 min., 1925/26
Metropolis - the city of the future.: Joh Fredersen rules the city from high above while the workers are non-stop plodding underground. Fredersen's son Freder falls in love with Maria, the workers' leader. At the same time, Rotwang, the inventor, creates a steel robot and is instructed by Fredersen to model it after Maria. The fake Maria then instigates the workers who leave their machines and thus cause the flooding of the city. But Freder's and Maria's last-minute effort finally saves Metropolis from downfall. The ruler of the city and the workers realize that the "head" and the "hands" belong together.
Fritz Lang's monumental science fiction film combines visual power with a love story around the reconciliation of labor and capital. It is considered as the most important film of German cinema by many critics.
30s: M (M - Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder) - Tuesday, 04 Sep. 2012, 6.30 pm
Director: Fritz Lang, b/w, 98 min., 1931
A girl playing on the street is approached by a man and follows him. The cut clearly shows that the child is murdered by the man. While he lives his life as a seemingly peaceful citizen, the general public is called upon to help in the search for the murderer. Panic grows in the town; hysteria, persecution complexes and latent hate are set free. The organized underworld feels that its "orderly" business is being obstructed by the constant police raids. It becomes a rival to the conventional forces of law and order and finally identifies the murderer with the help of a blind beggar…
"M" is Fritz Lang's first talkie and one of the high points of his artistic career. The contradiction between the naivity of the action and the artistic reflection characterizing his earlier films "Der frühe Tod", Dr. Mabuse, "Die Nibelungen" und "Metropolis" appears to have been eliminated here.
40s: Under the Bridges (Unter den Brücken) - Wednesday, 05 Sep. 2012, 6.30 pm
Director: Helmut Käutner, b/w, 92 min., 1945
Summer, somewhere on the river Spree. Willy and Hendrik, the owner and sole crewman on a river towing barge have tied up for the night. They see a pretty girl leaning far over the parapet of a bridge, apparently intending to throw herself into the water. Suddenly a banknote floats down onto the river - the girl had merely wanted to get rid of a note associated with unpleasant memories. It is the beginning of a three-cornered tale set among the bargemen of the Havel and Spree rivers. The girl whom the two men have saved from committing suicide is persuaded to join them on the barge and sail to Berlin. Both naturally fall in love with her, placing their friendship under a severe strain….
Based on a novel by Leo de Laforgue, "Under the bridges" was produced in and around Berlin during the last months of World War II, but did not première until after the collapse of Germany. Helmut Käutner considered it his finest work.
50s: The Captain from Köpenick (Der Hauptmann von Köpenick) - Thursday, 06 Sep. 2012, 6.30 pm
Director: Helmut Käutner, 89 min., 1956
Wilhelm Voigt has a lengthy criminal record. In prison he trains to be a shoemaker and reads books about the army, especially books on uniforms. Released without documents or work, he picks up a captain's uniform from a junk dealer, and together with a few infantrymen, occupies the town hall in the small town of Köpenick. On discovering that the town hall does not issue documents, he confiscates the municipal funds and disappears.
This escapade, set in the Berlin suburb of Köpenick, is a true story from 1906. Carl Zuckmayer wrote a play about it, and Helmut Käutner filmed it with the famous actor Heinz Rühmann. It was one of the most internationally successful entertainment films of the 1950s.
60s: Yesterday Girl (Abschied von gestern) - Tuesday, 11 Sep. 2012, 6.30 pm
Director: Alexander Kluge, b/w, 88 min., 1966
Anita G., a Jewess, comes from "over there". Suitcase in her hand she comes across strangers, who let her discover an unknown country: the Federal Republic of Germany in 1966. Coming from the GDR, Anita is the personification of not having come to terms with the past and therefore lacks certain preconditions which would allow her to become successfully integrated into federal German society. It is not her fault when she gives offence now and then. All the stumbling blocks on her way are shown in an almost documentary manner, which make apparent with the greatest intuition the grotesque moments of daily life.
Alexander Kluge's s "Abschied von gestern" is a seminal work of the New German Cinema, which strived for a renewal of German Cinema since the 60s.
70s: Nosferatu the Vampyre (Nosferatu - Phantom der Nacht) - Wednesday, 12 Sep. 2012, 6.30 pm
Director: Werner Herzog, colour, 103 min., 1998
Parting from Bram Stoker's horror novel Dracula (1897) and Nosferatu (Directed by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, 1921/22), the famous silent film version of the book, Werner Herzog endeavours to recount the frequently adapted vampire tale anew, melding the images of the German classic with his own visual universe. The film marks the second of five collaborations between director Werner Herzog and actor Klaus Kinski.
80s: Jadup and Boel (Jadup und Boel) - Thursday, 13 Sep. 2012, 6.30 pm
Director: Rainer Simon, 100 min., 1980/88
A small town in the GDR celebrates the opening of a supermarket. Next door, an old house collapses. In the rubble is an old Marxist brochure, dating back to the beginnings of the GDR. Jadup, who is now mayor, had once given it to Boel. At that time, Boel had been raped and then disappeared. Her assailant was never convicted.
Rainer Simon is one of the most important German film directors of the 80s. He is the only DEFA-director who won the Golden Bear at the 1985 Berlin International Film Festival for his film "The woman and the stranger". "Jadup and Boel" was banned in 1981, shortly before it was due to be premiered. It was only released to the public in 1988.
90s: Life is all you get (Das Leben ist eine Baustelle) - Friday, 14 Sep. 2012, 6.30 pm
Director: Wolfgang Becker, colour, 118 min., 1997
In a huge city like Berlin you literally have to bump into your "big love" - or else it could be that your chance has forever passed. On his way to work at the slaughterhouse, Jan Nebel gets into a street fight. Before he really knows what is going on, he beats up two plainclothes police investigators and finds himself joined by Vera, a beautiful woman who turns out to be his dreamgirl. But their fortune is fragile: Jan is afraid of being HIV-infected, and Vera creeps out of his bed every night ... Just like the other leading characters in this film, Jan and Vera are looking for their own identity, for friendship, a piece of luck and for their "big love". Life Is All You Get is a sensitive and subtle, but also flashy and comical approach to people?s lives in a changing city, focusing on their dreams, fears, and desires.