Minggu, 29 Mei 2011

Alexander Kluge - Die Macht der Gefühle aka The Power Of Emotion [+Extras] (1983)

The Power of Emotion explains that emotion isn't to be confused with sentimentality. Emotion is ancient and more powerful than any art form. The film looks at young couples who run into difficulties as they try to translate their experiences of love into clear decision-making. A woman who has shot her husband provides a judge with a puzzle. Those who love can bring the dead back to life by means of co-operation. That's the focus of the opera, "The Power Plant of Emotions" and the "Opera of the 20th Century" cinema.

The Author on the film
I believe that, in the end, it is feelings that affect everything in our world, that move everything, yet these feelings have no institutional power. "They pervade us. You just can't see them."
When I started working on The Power of Feeling, I was not in a rational state. I did not say, I have a subject and now I will make a film about it. Instead I was spellbound and observed in my direct surroundings, for example, how feelings move. I have not really dealt with the theme of my mother's death and the fact that she was the one who taught me "how feelings move." Nor have I dealt with how she died. That was an entire palette of feelings: "All feelings believe in a happy end," and everyone believes tacitly that they will live forever: The entire palette is somehow optimistic, a positive attitude towards life having been put on the agendaas long as she was young, as long as her body held out, from one day to the next she collapsed. She just suddenly collapsed, like in an opera where disaster takes the stage in the fifth act. It felt as if I had observed an air raid or a disaster.
The film The Power of Feeling is not about feelings, but rather their organization: how they can be organized by chance, through outside factors, murder, destiny; how they are organized, how they encounter the fortune they are seeking.
What is all this organization of feelings about? Generally feelings tend to be a dictatorship. It is a dictatorship of the moment. The strong feeling I am having right now suppresses the others. For thoughts this would not be the case. One thought attracts others like a magnet. People therefore need affirmation by other people to be sure about their own feelings (to counteract the acquisition of their feelings through outside forces). Through the interaction of many people, for example, in public, the various feelings also have a magnetic attraction to one another just like thoughts do. Feelings communicate through their manifestation in public.
The cinema is the public seat of feelings in the 20th century. The organization is set up thusly: Even sad feelings have a happy outcome in the cinema. It is about finding comfort: In the 19th century the opera house was the home to feelings. An overwhelming majority of operas had a tragic end. You observed a victim.
I am convinced that there is a more adventuresome combination: Feelings in both the opera and traditional cinema are powerless in the face of destiny's might. In the 20th century feelings barricaded themselves behind this comfort, in the 19th century they entrenched themselves in the validity of the lethal seriousness.
Alexander Kluge in "Die Macht Der Gefühle", 1984, soon to be uploaded as german PDF

A Critic on Kluge and the film
"Death is the negation of time. But lust wants eternity." -- from Alexander Kluge's Artists Under the Big Top: Perplexed
As Wim Wenders and Werner Herzog currently revive their careers and become rediscovered by cinephiles, it's the perfect moment for Anthology Film Archive's A Tribute to Alexander Kluge retrospective, starting tomorrow and going until the 21st. But other than being a fellow New German Cinema phenom during the Sixties and Seventies, Kluge has little in common with the aforementioned auteurs. Whereas Wenders and Herzog sought popular acclaim during their heyday by renewing narrative conventions with exotic culture clashing and an international cast of well-known stars, Kluge went a more political (i.e., Marxist), less assimable route. Close to Fassbinder in his preoccupation with Germany's traumatic past and close to Godard, Straub & Huillet, and Rainer in "essayist," hetergenous aesthetics, Kluge's films mix self-contained staged narratives, documentary, photographic stills and illustrations, and archival footage to profound effect. Of the four Kluge films I've seen, Artists Under the Big Top: Perplexed and The Patriot stand out for their complex, dialectic considerations of the artist's and historian's role, respectively, in actively questioning and challenging prevailing ideologies. Yesterday Girl is an early take on Godard's Vivre Sa Vie, without the genre send-ups, a melancholic allegory on Germany's festering post-war wounds. The Power of Emotion is by far the most difficult -- I especially want to see this one again to unravel its mysteries -- and not for those adverse to Brechtian cinematics. Just don't get frustrated Kluge's project seems impenetrable at first. As Michelle Langford writes for Senses of Cinema: "Kluge advocates the adoption of a rather relaxed attitude on the part of the spectator. He has written: 'Relaxation means that I myself become alive for a moment, allowing my senses to run wild: for once not to be on guard with the police-like intention of letting nothing escape me.'" Take what you can from the images and then let them seep in over time -- connections and revelations will be forthcoming.

Short Films
* Feuerloescher E.A. Winterstein (1968, 11min)
* Das Toedliche Dreieck (2006, 1min)

Subtitles:English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Russian

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