Edition Filmmuseum 61
Fassbinder famously wrote, in 1979, of his colleague's cinema: "Werner Schroeter will one day have a place in the history of film that I would describe in literature as somewhere between Novalis, Lautremont, and Louis Ferdinanad Celine; he was an 'underground' director for ten years, and they didn't want to let him slip out of that role... His films were given the convenient label of 'underground,' which transforms them in a flash into beautiful but exotic plants that bloomed so unusually and so far away that basically one couldn't be bothered with, and therefore wasn't supposed to bother with them. And that's precisely as wrong as it is stupid. Werner Schroeter's films are not far away; they are beautiful but not exotic. On the contrary." Schroeter's cinema is a studied melange, fusing the seemingly associative nature of avant-garde film production with the exquisite, aesthetic rigor of German theatre or opera forms. His cinema speaks through its often breathtaking images. Schroeter was a timeless aesthete with the ability to traverse a full range of extravagant epochs in a singular frame, while remaining defiantly trained on the contemporary. His panache for the excessive and the hysterical nature he commanded of his performers gave way to a new brand of melodrama and an unprecedented potential for allegory in the cinema.

The 2-disc DVD set presents new restored versions of two rare classics by Werner Schroeter connecting private stories with history: Der Bomberpilot tells the story of three eccentric women in Germany during the Nazi period who try to become show stars in America after the war. Nel Regno di Napoli is a chronicle of post-war Italy told from the perspective of a Neapolitan family. Additional features are an interview with Werner Schroeter by Gerard Courant, a video showing Werner Schroeter in a talk with the audience at the Austrian Filmmuseum, and stills from the shooting of Nel Regno di Napoli by Digne M. Markovicz.

Der Bomberpilot / The Bomber Pilot

DVD9 | PAL 4:3 | 01:05:29 | 6.93 Gb + 3% rec
Language: Deutsch
Subtitles: English, Francais, Italiano

One of "Schroeter's most visionary movies" (J. Hoberman, The Village Voice), Der Bomberpilot anticipates Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy (The Marriage of Maria Braun, Lola, Veronika Voss) in its tale of three women surviving from the end of World War II through the Adenauer era. Schroeter signals his irreverent attitude toward the German artist's duty to "work through" the legacy of Nazism by opening his grotesquely funny film with a trio of women (including Magdalena Montezuma) in crimson and black lace corsets, high-stepping and Sieg Heil-ing in front of a swastika flag. The women dream of becoming singers and dancers, and plan to travel to America to lecture on racial integration, but their plans go awry. Outfitted with Schroeter's by now obligatory visits to a cemetery and a misty river — when Montezuma, never more alabaster, learns of Hitler's death, she throws herself into the water — Der Bomberpilot also features a cameo by the director as a pony-tailed suitor who brings roses to his pastry-shop inamorata and dies in the bargain. "Probably the first German film to engage with the 'cultural myth' of Nazism" (Ulrike Sieglohr, Film Comment).

Neapolitanische Geschichten / The Kingdom of Naples

DVD9 | PAL 16:9 | 02:10:35 | 6.57 Gb + 3% rec
Language: Italiano
Subtitles: English, Deutsch, Francais

In this intimate epic that stretches from 1943 to 1978, Schroeter tells the story of postwar Italy by watching two neighboring Neapolitan families struggle against poverty and the despair it entails. Centered on two children born at the end of the war – one who grows up attracted by the Church, the other loyal to the Communist Party – the film seems to spring in part from a love of Italian cinema: Visconti’s realist approach to history, Fellini’s picaresque feel for the vibrant life of a community, Pasolini’s experiments with fusing sprawling narrative and discursive political content. But Schroeter avowed a more surprising inspiration: Bunuel’s Los Olvidados.

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