Diese Nacht

WERK WERNER SCHROETER

Anfang des Artikels von Michelle Langford in Senses of Cinema

Thomas Elsaesser once described Werner Schroeter as “the German cinema's greatest marginal filmmaker.” Indeed, beginning his fimmaking career in the 1960s, Schroeter has been an important and influential proponent of the New German Cinema, although his personal eccentricities and refusal to use conventional narrative tools in his films have rendered his work somewhat obscure and less marketable than some of his more famous contemporaries such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wim Wenders, Werner Herzog and Volker Schlöndorff. In 1979, Schroeter's friend and colleague, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, speculated upon the place Schroeter and his films might some day hold for the history of cinema:

"Werner Schroeter will one day have a place in the history of film that I would describe in literature as somewhere between Novalis, Lautréamont, and Louis-Ferdinand Céline; he was an 'underground' director for ten years, and they didn't want to let him slip out of this role. Werner Schroeter's grand cinematic scheme of the world was confined, repressed, and at the same time ruthlessly exploited. 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 them, and therefore wasn't supposed to bother with them. And that's precisely as wrong as it is stupid. For Werner Schroeter's films are not far away; they're beautiful but not exotic. On the contrary."

Born at the very end of the Second World War in Germany, Werner Schroeter spent most of his childhood between Bielfield and Heidelberg. His education was interrupted intermittently by periods of international travel during which time he occasionally attended German schools in foreign countries, finally completing his high school education in Heidelberg. One can imagine that these periods of international travel may have inspired the many foreign locations he later chose for his films: Naples and Palermo in Italy, Paris, Nancy and Marseille in France, Mexico, Portugal, Lebanon, The Philippines and the Mojave desert in the USA. His command of foreign languages—French, English, Italian—too might well have been made possible less through his education than by his childhood travels of the world. After leaving school, Schroeter enrolled at the University of Mannheim to study Psychology, but completed only three semesters. After abandoning his university studies, Schroeter worked intermittently as a freelance journalist before enrolling at the Film and Television School in Munich where he remained for only a few weeks.

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