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falderal : a moving images blog

Archive for the ‘Marathon’ Category

Marathon: G.W. Pabst

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

G.W. PABST MARATHON FILM ENTRIES
Geheimnisse einer Seele (Secrets of a Soul) – 1926
Die Liebe der Jeanne Ney (The Love of Jeanne Ney) – 1927
Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora’s Box) – 1929
Tagebuch einer Verlorenen (Diary of a Lost Girl) – 1929
Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera) – 1931

I thought that I should make a more official close for the Pabst marathon I did so I’m making an extra post just for him. Also, I would like to keep track of the mini-marathons I do as well so I shall start with my first marathon: G.W. Pabst.

The reason I am fascinated by Pabst is because of his career. Although it’s his films from the Weimar Republic that are the most well-known, Pabst has made films during the Third Reich and in West Germany. His career never reach the height that it did during the Weimar Republic but one has got to wonder about this man who made films during the most fascinating eras of German history. The most interesting quote about Pabst in my opinion is what Louise Brooks said about him

“None of us who knew Pabst well felt that we ever knew him at all. He was all things to all men, and nothing consistently. He would argue any side of the question with apparent complete conviction and sincerity, but to see this happen over and over was to suspect that he had no convictions at all.”

This makes him more intriguing in my eyes than Leni Riefenstahl because while Riefenstahl is someone who is obviously controversial, Pabst is in the shadows yet his film career really makes me wonder why he isn’t seen as an equivalent of Riefenstahl. It can be argued that Pabst’s films from the Third Reich were Nazi propaganda but when one looks at his earlier films, one has got to wonder just what side Pabst is on. I remember reading something that Lotte Eisner wrote about Pabst when she criticized him for making films during the Third Reich; he said something to the effect of making films simply bhttp://films.raison-detre.org/wp-admin/post-new.phpecause he wanted to and that politics didn’t matter. It’s as if he lives his life with a “cold-blooded detachment” (Brooks) and goes with whatever interests him and with whatever happens around him. Thus this makes me wonder just how genuine his films are. Even if Pabst directed films for pure entertainment, every film has the right to be analyzed and critiqued. Pabst is considered one of the most important directors with the Neue Sachlichkeit movement yet I also read that Die freudlose Gasse was made because one of Pabst’s acquaintances knew that he would be attracted by the story. Was Pabst for the message or did he have a romanticized view of what was going on during the hyper-inflation period of the Weimar Republic. Is this why some of his films have a leaning towards the melodramatic? Someone who is so detached and aloof to the political happenings seems to be more dangerous than Riefenstahl with her ramblings and denials.

This is why I love Pabst and find him to be one of the most fascinating directors. There are already so many ways to interpret films but with Pabst, I think that it would be even more stimulating to see him as an auteur and give him a certain amount of importance while interpreting his films. Who needs “death of the author” when the author’s life and thoughts can probably add even more insight to the films?

Although I only posted about Pabst’s Weimar Republic films, I would definitely like to do another marathon of post-Weimar Republic Pabst films.

Book recommendation:
The Films of G.W. Pabst: An Extraterritorial Cinema edited by Eric Rentschler