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Werner Schroeter: Magnificent Obsessions

Wednesday, March 13, 2013
7:00 p.m. Salome
Werner Schroeter (West Germany, 1971)

Filmed outdoors in the Roman ruins of Baalbek, on the outskirts of Beirut, Salome provides one of the more original settings for Oscar Wilde’s notorious play (and Richard Strauss’ opera) about the female temptress. Amid bullet-ridden steps and crumbling temple walls, the temptress Salome wreaks havoc—and vengeance—upon the court of Herod, accompanied by an assortment of eye-catchingly bizarre costumes and a soundtrack that ranges from Strauss and Verdi to Arabic folk songs and industrial noise from a nearby airport. Amid the madness, Magdalena Montezuma stands out as Herod; shaven bald, eyes glaring, stomping from ruin to ruin, she possesses a wrath and a physicality that threatens to break from the screen. “Pasolini seems to have been the guiding spirit of Schroeter's rendition,” notes James Quandt; “the hieratic tone, lavish costumes, and the conflation of Christianity and paganism, folk and classical music, and ancient and modern all suggest the Italian master's influence.”

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Schroeter, based on the play by Oscar Wilde. Photographed by Robert van Ackeren. With Mascha Elm-Rabben, Magdalena Montezuma, Ellen Umlauf, Thomas von Kayserling. (81 mins, In German with English subtitles, Color, Blu-ray, From Munich Filmmuseum, permission film & kunst)

Preceded by:
Neurasia
(West Germany, 1969)

In this early Schroeter film, four actors enact love, suffering, and death in a theatrical space. (41 mins, In German with English subtitles, B&W, Blu-ray, From Munich Filmmuseum, permission film & kunst)

Total running time: 122 mins