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Werner Schroeter: Magnificent Obsessions

Sunday, February 17, 2013
5:30 p.m. Eika Katappa
Werner Schroeter (Germany, 1969)

Archival print!


“This two-and-a-half hour funkfest is some kind of great movie.”—J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

Schroeter's first feature film, Eika Katappa was no less experimental than his earlier short works; by turns operatic, balletic, melodramatic—hilarious and haunting—the film defies subtitles, although a libretto would be in order. And that is precisely what Schroeter provides in humorously written, scene-by-scene program notes which we will make available. The title translates roughly as "Scattered Pictures" and the film is the quintessential example of Schroeter's pastiche style: shards of melodrama are woven together into a nine-part musical format, opera punctuated by architecture punctuated by opera. The film is less hermetic than The Death of Maria Malibran, and reaffirms that Schroeter's outdoor scenes can be his most lustrous, expressionistic, and dramatically compelling. Among the scattered vignettes are tales of St. Sebastian and the stigmata of Therese von Konnersreuth, the romance of Siegfried and Kriemheld, the death of a diva cum "hillbilly star from Massachusetts," the murder by an anonymous noblewoman of her young lover in balletic long-shot, Tosca sung by Maria Callas but performed by Magdalena Montezuma, and a modern-day tragedy of two young men of Naples who court to the rhythms of Carmen. Civilization may be in ruins, but the film ends with the last words of the hillbilly diva, "Life is very precious, even right now."

• Written by Schroeter. Photographed by Schroeter, Robert van Ackeren. With Gisela Trowe, Carla Aulaula, Magdalena Montezuma, Knut Koch. (147 mins, German and Italian operatic score, Little dialogue, Color/B&W, 35mm, From Eye Film Institute Netherlands, permission film & kunst)