The next screening is a double whopper of two very different films each of which lasts about an hour.  

The first one is a 1989 documentary film of questionable quality (an old video) but I am sure it will be manageable and you will enjoy it – on Richard Wagner’s opera 

1988/89, WDR production, 55 min., dir. Werner Lütje, English version 

The second film is a highlight in early cinematography by Russian avant-garde director Dziga Vertov 

USSR 1930, 65 min – Directed by: Dziga Vertov – restored in 2005 by Peter Kubelka, with English subtitles 

DATE: 23 March
TIME: 17h00
VENUE: Howard College, MTB North Wing, 1st Floor, German Programme, Media Room F251 

About the films
The Mastersingers of Nuremberg: Richard Wagner (1813-1883) worked on the composition of this opera for more than 20 years – with interruptions for his other works. He completed it in 1867, and it had its premiere in June 1868 in Munich’s Court Theatre at the command of Bavaria’s King Ludwig II. 

This film documents the production of the almost five hours long Nuremberg Singers’ Competition by the Bonn Opera and includes the most impressive passages and most brilliant musical highlights of Wagner’s work. 

The story takes place in Nuremberg during the middle of the 16th century. At the time, Nuremberg was a free imperial city, and one of the centres of the Renaissance in Northern Europe. The story revolves around the real-life guild of Meistersinger (Master Singers), an association of amateur poets and musicians, master craftsmen in their main professions. The mastersingers developed a craftsman like approach to music-making, with an intricate system of rules for composing and performing songs. One of the main characters, the cobbler-poet Hans Sachs, is based on an actual historical figure: Hans Sachs (1494–1576), the most famous of the historical mastersingers. 

Enthusiasm: Symphony of the Donbas, Vertov’s first sound film, a masterpiece of Russian avant-garde cinema, is a eulogy to coal and steel workers and the supremacy of Soviet industrial production. Vertov’s rousing “symphony” of man and machine, made in celebration of the Five Year Plan of the late 1920s, has inspired countless filmmakers throughout the century, from Charlie Chaplin and Joris Ivens to Richard Serra, Harun Farocki, Wang Bing, and Lucy Raven – filmmakers who have sought to recapture the film’s dynamic rhythms even as they critique or parody its heroic idealism. The film has been restored by the Austrian Film Museum and Peter Kubelka, himself an experimental filmmaker, who has been responsible for the definitive restoration of Enthusiasm, especially for the re-synching of sound and image. 

“Vertov’s paean to the Soviet first Five-Year Plan for economic development (1928-32), clearly has a “three-movement” form. Beginning with an overture on the elimination of all the old detritus impeding full socialist construction (particularly religion and alcoholism), the film moves into a middle section that passes through many of the stages of heavy industrial production to culminate in a final movement, where the products of industrialization flow back to the USSR (most notably to the countryside) and are celebrated. 

The film is classically Vertovian in its reflection upon its own constructed nature. Enthusiasm seems to begin twice: the music we hear (and watch) being heard in the film’s first shot is later repeated, with the woman auditor replaced by a male conductor in a radio studio. The production, transmission, organization and audition of sound enter our own conscious reception of the film. Thus Enthusiasm is a three-levelled film, with the audience’s auditory experience, the film as a sound-image construct, and the documentary character of the film’s basic materials all co-present and woven together as part of a reflexive texture remarkable at this early date in the history of sound film, and inspirational for many later experimenters, including Peter Kubelka and Richard Serra.” (John McKay, 2005,–Simfonija-Donbassa-.html)

For further details please contact:

Dr Marion Pape
German Studies
University of KwaZulu-Natal
School of Arts
Durban, 4041
Tel: 0027-31-260 1086 / 2380
Fax: 0027-31-260 1242

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