Berlinale Classics and Specials

Emeric Pressburger and Michael Powell

When Philip Horne met with Martin Scorsese late last summer to talk about Killers of the Flower Moon for the October issue of Sight and Sound, Scorsese was working with director David Hinton and editor Thelma Schoonmaker on Made in England: The Films of Powell and Pressburger. Structurally, the documentary promises to be somewhat similar to A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (1995) and My Voyage to Italy (1999), but Made in England will also incorporate diary entries, audio recordings, and home movies.

Schoonmaker, who was married to Powell from 1984 until his death in 1990, was “working on certain aspects of clips from certain films,” Scorsese told Horne. “It’s very hard to clip any film. People want to say too much in the clips and I explain, ‘No, then what’s the point of seeing the movie?’ . . . I’ve thought about that a great deal . . . I’m being very, very careful with David and Thelma, saying, ‘Let’s evoke these films.’ The real experience is seeing the film.” But having one of the world’s greatest filmmakers as a guide through an oeuvre that has had such a profound impact on his own work promises to be quite an experience as well. Made in England will see its world premiere next month in Berlin, when the festival presents an Honorary Golden Bear to Scorsese.

The film is one of twelve titles added to the Berlinale Special lineup on Monday, and several of the new additions are works of nonfiction. Nicolas Philibert, whose On the Adamant won the Golden Bear last year, will return with At Averroès & Rosa Parks, which focuses on two psychiatric units in a Parisian hospital. Abel Ferrara’s Turn in the Wound, featuring Patti Smith, is a portrait of Kyiv two years after the Russian invasion. Dimitris Athiridis’s fourteen-hour exergue – on documenta 14 follows curator Adam Szymczyk as he oversees the 2017 edition of one of the world’s most influential art exhibitions.

Edgar Reitz, best known for his five-film Heimat series, a fictional epic tracing a single family line from the 1840s to 2000, will receive this year’s Berlinale Camera in recognition of his unique contributions to cinema over the past seven decades. Reitz’s latest film, Filmstunde_23, codirected with Jörg Adolph, is rooted in a workshop he led at an all-girls school back in 1968. Reitz recently learned that his students—eighth-graders at the time, and now over seventy—still meet to discuss movies and filmmaking. Filmstunde_23 is a chronicle of a shared cinephilia that has lasted for more than half a century.

The Berlinale Classics program announced on Monday is made up of world premieres of ten new restorations. Ishiro Honda’s Godzilla turns seventy this year, and as J. Hoberman wrote in 2012, “the humongous radioactive reptile known as Gojira—Godzilla, to us—is the great movie monster of the post–World War II period, in part because Honda seems to have conceived this primordial force of nature as a living mushroom cloud . . . In some ways, Godzilla was a patriotic movie—Japan’s postwar rebirth, economic miracle, and reassertion of a national self in a supercolossal package.”

The program features two films by Ernst Lubitsch, Kohlhiesel’s Daughters (1920), a silent reworking of The Taming of the Shrew that became the most popular film Lubitsch made in Germany, and The Love Parade (1929), one of Hollywood’s first musical comedies and a hit with both critics and audiences. Starring Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald in her feature film debut, Lubitsch’s first talkie “depicts the battle of the sexes with lacerating, loose tongues, as would become his trademark,” wrote Michael Koresky in 2008. “These were the days before the Hays moral code was enforced, however, so in this and his other early sound musicals, Lubitsch could be even more wicked.”

In The Sacrifice (1986), Andrei Tarkovsky’s final film, magnificently shot by Sven Nykvist, Erland Josephson stars as Alexander, an actor-turned-critic who shares a secluded house with his family, two maids, a doctor, and a philosophizing postman in the Swedish countryside. When the radio announces the outbreak of World War III, the film “strips gears and revs into a kind of controlled delirium,” wrote Time’s Richard Corliss when The Sacrifice arrived in the U.S. “It embraces elements of old-dark-house melodramas (a creaking door, a dead phone) and French farce (Alexander sneaking down a ladder for a late-night tryst). Yes, the end of any world, even this desiccated one, can be both spooky and funny.”

Two films from 2005 will be presented as “specials,” Carlos Reygadas’s Battle in Heaven and Tsai Ming-liang’s The Wayward Cloud. The former is “a movie and a half, teeming with insidious visual ideas and a fearless moral equilibrium,” wrote Michael Atkinson in the Village Voice in 2006. “Battle in Heaven, as ambitious as its title, is a living mystery, already notorious for hardcore-osity but so serious about its formal intelligence and so deep-dish in its evocations of inexpressible desolation, personal and social, that it occupies your skull like a siege of Huns.” Set against the backdrop of a water shortage in Taiwan, Tsai’s sequel to What Time Is It There? (2001) is “a comedic tragedy, a musical bathed in silence,” wrote Adam Balz for Not Coming to a Theater Near You in 2009.

The late Spanish director Carlos Saura won the Golden Bear in 1981 for Deprisa, deprisa, which Acquarello, writing in 2007, called “a raw and sobering portrait of a generation at an existential crossroads, struggling to find mooring and direction in an uncertain climate of transformative, social revolution, as the nation emerged from the repression of fascism towards the liberalization of democracy.” Iranian filmmaker Sohrab Shahid Saless worked in Germany from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s, and “throughout his career,” wrote Lucy Sternbach for Screen Slate last fall, he “drew out the transnational aesthetics of in-betweenness and displacement. His work, committed to a relentless questioning of the order of things, always thinks the past together with the present.” The Berlinale will present Time of Maturity (1981) as part of the Shahid Saless Archiv’s ongoing efforts to revive the entire oeuvre.

In 1975, Roger Ebert wrote that in The Day of the Locust, John Schlesinger’s “expensive, daring, epic” adaptation of Nathanael West’s 1938 novel, “Hollywood is taken as a metaphor for an America that was moving from depression to war, and its fantasies outrun themselves until all that’s left is anarchy.” After Hours (1985) brings us full circle. “As funny as it frequently is,” wrote Sheila O’Malley last summer, “it’s also a cri de coeur, and one of Scorsese’s most personal films.”

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