Alexander Kluge • Director
The Dream is the Prototype of Cinema
Alexander Kluge was born in 1932 in Halberstadt. He came to Munich in 1958 as an attorney but soon turned to film. The first full-length feature film was Yesterday Girl (Abschied von Gestern, 1966) for which he won the German Film Award and the Silver Lion in the Mostra of Venice in 1966, then Kluge won the Golden Lion two years later for The Artists Under the Big Top: Perplexed (Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel: Ratlos). Kluge has proven himself to be an incomparable workaholic. As an orderly author-director, Kluge was responsible for both the screenplay and the production in his cinematic works and founded Kairos Film. In addition, Kluge was a member of the legendary Gruppe 47. In 1987, Kluge and the Japanese media company Dentsu founded the firm dctp (development company for television programs), with which he formed program slots on several private German television channels.
"The old film is dead, we believe in the new one" - that is the concluding sentence of the Oberhausener Manifesto. Alexander Kluge was one of the authors of this legendary avowal from 1962 which marked the beginning of New German Cinema. For Alexander Kluge, cinema is a constant development. He is probably the only filmmaker who still reflects seriously about how Internet and cinema can be united by more than the mere sales and distribution platform.
This summer takes Kluge back to the Mostra in Venice. What he will show there are five programs especially put together for the festival. Kluge is downright libidinous when making films and his work has grown noticeably in scope in the last few years, but mainly on television. In News & Stories or Zehn vor 11 he experiments with short forms, films cut associatively, and long interview shows. He creates the shows with dctp, which arranges timeslots on its own authority (and 37.5% of which belong to him). Kluge comments: "I secretly continued with cinema on television."
The Lido Project is the first for the screen in years. Kluge and the director of the Mostra, Marco Mueller "met in Berlin and very quickly agreed: I don't want to make a retrospective and he didn't want to have an antiquated festival. "Mueller coordinates something, so to speak: he browses and finds a title like The Poetical Power of Theory and based on that, I then make a program of a hundred minutes.
Unique associations of past and present come out in these works and if Kluge's associations are often arranged in a strictly logical fashion, one cannot see them as only an intellectual construction. He would also protest against that: "Cinema is concentrated emotion; there is also no science possible without emotion."
Kluge has found an ideal ally in Mostra director Marco Mueller. "The oldest festival, Venice, is on the cutting edge of innovation, that is the fundamental idea. Edgar Reitz sees it that way as well." What they are doing, he and Reitz, explains Kluge, are, so to speak, the extreme forms of the same idea - that one has to free cinema again from the rather arbitrary self-imposed 90-minute constraints. "The 90-minute cinema was an opulent European model, which is completely atypical today for the main interest on this planet. People want to test for a minute whether they find something interesting - and then latch on to it for up to 12 hours. What Edgar Reitz did with 52 hours of Heimat is an answer to that - my minute-long films are another."
The future of cinema will find itself somehow. Kluge believes in that and does not see a threat in television and the Internet, but rather new means of transport. "I am sure that this talent, of letting pictures run through your head - that has been the prototype of cinema since the Stone Age - is the reason that we have not died out yet: because we can dream."
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