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Werner Schroeter: Magnificent Obsessions

Saturday, March 2, 2013
8:30 p.m. The Bomber Pilot
Werner Schroeter (West Germany, 1970)

(Der Bomberpilot). Schroeter sticks a pointy high heel in the eye of the archetypical German narrative of “addressing the legacy of Nazism” in this bizarre musical satire/postwar history of the nation, which tells the tale of three barely talented songbirds from the 1940s to the 1960s. First seen goose-stepping in stilettos and garters under a Nazi flag, our trio of tuneless warblers (including Magdalena Montezuma) live in a schmaltz-fueled fantasyland of cabarets, pastry shops, and tragically doomed soldiers, moving from Hitler’s death to American Occupation to the haltering prosperity of the 1960s without breaking song. For J. Hoberman, The Bomber Pilot is “one of Schroeter’s most visionary movies.”

—Jason Sanders

• Written and photographed by Schroeter. With Carla Aulaulu, Magdalena Montezuma, Mascha Elm. (65 mins, In German with English subtitles, Color, Blu-ray, From Munich Filmmuseum, permission film & kunst)

Preceded by:
Winter Journey
(Switzerland, 1980)

(Weisse Reise). Two sailors love and lust in ports from Naples to Hamburg, Tunis to Hong Kong, in Schroeter’s inventive adaptation of Jean Genet’s masterpiece, Querelle, considered by many to be the director’s most important work. While the film’s plot roams the world, all scenes were actually staged in one Zurich apartment during seven nights (so as not to disturb the doctor’s office below), its threadbare artifice and homemade exotica adding to the dreamlike charm.

(55 mins, In French with English subtitles, Color, 16mm, From Eric Franck Fine Art)

Total running time: 120 mins