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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 8:08 pm 
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With all due respect to Schreck and David, and as someone who enjoys Lang, and even as a kid tended to care more about who made a film rather than risking following stars or whatever, I'm all for Lubitsch stating his rather unpopular opinion. He feels he's had a rather bullshit theory shoved down his and everyone's throat for decades and he isn't going to take it anymore. I'd much rather read a heated debate between you folks, on a subject I enjoy, than listen to people whinge over a release schedule that doesn't include every film they've been told to love.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 8:32 pm 
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If only Lubitsch had the expressive skills to put it that way I would have happily engaged in a post auteurist thead (which I've started to try out elsewhere. And let's do it, starting with Renoir's later work, for instance.)

As it is I feel like I'm being visited by Martians.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 9:30 pm 
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There is certainly a place for critiques of auteurism. I certainly agree with some such critiques. However, it's not the existence of such critiques that is objectionable, it is the particular nature of them, what they contain and how they are expressed that is at issue here.
Board member Lubitsch* is on to some good ideas but goes way off-course in my opinion when suggesting that an auteur who consistently explores similar themes, techniques etc. within different stories and contexts (e.g. Ozu) is essentially just engaging in repetition ad nauseam. I also disagree that all the forms of auteurist theory espoused on this forum can or should be conflated with those of Truffaut ("The worst film by Hitchcock is better than the best of Huston") or anyone else in the Cahiers school, necessarily. There are subtler shades of auteurism and they deserve fair consideration. I won't launch into any further criticism of these statements because this is a thread on Testament of Dr. Mabuse. Perhaps a separate thread on this issue would keep this from popping up in other threads and would be more fruitful.

*Below I'm mainly referring to Lubitsch's statements in The Heiress thread, not just this one.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2006 2:10 am 
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Gregory wrote:
I also disagree that all the forms of auteurist theory espoused on this forum can or should be conflated with those of Truffaut ("The worst film by Hitchcock is better than the best of Huston") or anyone else in the Cahiers school, necessarily. There are subtler shades of auteurism and they deserve fair consideration.


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Perhaps a separate thread on this issue would keep this from popping up in other threads and would be more fruitful.


I agree with both of these very sensible statements. Obviously, the question of the "auteur" is going to come up again and again in this forum due to the nature of Criterion's typical releases and the interests of many who post here. So it's a subject that ought to be approached in an intelligent and conversational way, especially as many of us (myself included) are still attempting to negotiate exactly what usefulness auteur theory offers to current film criticism/appreciation.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2006 5:22 am 
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ben d banana wrote:
With all due respect to Schreck and David, and as someone who enjoys Lang, and even as a kid tended to care more about who made a film rather than risking following stars or whatever, I'm all for Lubitsch stating his rather unpopular opinion. He feels he's had a rather bullshit theory shoved down his and everyone's throat for decades and he isn't going to take it anymore. I'd much rather read a heated debate between you folks, on a subject I enjoy, than listen to people whinge over a release schedule that doesn't include every film they've been told to love.


This basically going to be a variation on David's statement, but I have to say it:

Look. We all feel very strongly about film, otherwise we wouldn't be expending the calories typing & typing & typing about them. I have no problem debating anything with anybody anytime. I don't mind having my points dissected. But who wants to exchange ideas with a raging, humorless, brick wall, who doesn't even throw a little humor into such fierceness, who makes you feel like she wants to personally come & scratch the shit out of you for your appreciation of DIE SPINNE? I want to exchange ideas, now matter how heated, with someone whose replies will be at least somewhat unpredictable.

There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Lang tended to repeat himself over and over again. All the veneers of reality being peeled away to reveal the paranoiac truth behind the reassuring facade, the endlessly repeated wise old man/professor/recluse/druggist, stooped & shuffling aroound cramped, dark & musty quarters & forever solving the obscure clue that confounds the protagonist (the Chinese key in Spiders, the druggist in Destiny, provides the translation to Mia May in The (orignal, Lang-0scripted) Indian Tomb, old Manfeldt in Frau Im Mond, Rotwang in Metropolis, the list can go on & on).

What I think is an utter wheel-spinner, even if I didn't admire Fantoma's/KirchMedia's restoration disc-- and greatly enjoy the innocent fun and beautiful photography & mise-en-scene (remind's me of the mneticulousness of the Kobayashi of KWAIDAN as well as that of Kubrick in 2001)-- of Langs '59 Indian Tomb, is the proclamation "you wouldn't even be speaking of it if it weren't a Fritz Lang film."

Well, yeah, so what? Even if it were true (which I'm not so sure... I enjoy visual movies a great deal, and all doesn't need to be heart-wrenching super-serious masterpieces like the Passion of Joan of Arc; INd. TOMB '59 might have stuck in my mind as a gorgeous one-shot, even if I knew no other Lang, the same way I swam in the images of Kwaidan, before I'd seen REBELLION & SEPPU) Great directors have their ups & downs-- what's the point of that statement? It was leveled with such a jolt of seeming contempt, as if we were all fools for even picking the discs up in the first place. The statement goes nowhere, though. People have mediocre Hitch, Kurosawa, Kubrick, Lean, Murnau, Dreyer, A. Mann, hell, the list can go on forever. What is the point of calling attention to it? I'm sure Lubitch has heroes-- I'm sure he/she'd love to get his/her hands on Die Puppe, probably has some of the german silent melodramas/costume pitcures Lubitch made, some of which are more pure escapist entertainment than they are head shredding landmarks which blew the parameters of silent film way open. Or ETERNAL LOVE. But why break horns for acquiring them into ones collection & having fun watching them? Some folks are "completists" since many DVD titles are so inexpensive nowadays (single disc Warners, Fox, Universal's, Paramount-- hell I think I paid 11 bucks for that beautiful STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS) one can afford to acquire nearly everything by even the most prolific directors. I know myself that I long to see the forgotten, ho-hum titles just as much as I long to see the masterpieces of certain directors. This is because, though the film in question may be weak, it's instructive to see why, particularly versus his successes: aside from the obvious desire to trace the development of themes & visual ideas, it's interesting to attempt to discern what was it that caused the icon to stumble... was it studio interference? was the interference ex-post-facto "final cut" butchering?... or was it cost cutting or censor-fear or mere mindless overruling one's vision to cater to the perceieved lowesrt common denominator? or was it heavy drinking or sex-prompted blindness on the director's part? a bad script? old age shearing off his edge?

I know myself, and I pointed it out volountarily before Lubitch came barreling in, that there's a bit of Lang that doesn't do much for me personally. No matter who's directing, or when, or with whom-- nostalgia or no-- it's as impossible for me to squeeze enjoyment out of a film which does nothing for me as it is to proclaim an erection with a limp dong.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2006 5:15 pm 

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I'm glad you decided not to leave the forum after all(or become a non-poster), HerrSchreck. Obviously some people would like to believe that "cleverly" disguised put-downs, sugar-coated with references to such and such authorities could pass unnoticed. Some kind of petty "status game." And I'm not trying to fan the flames.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2006 7:05 pm 
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davidhare wrote:
If only Lubitsch had the expressive skills to put it that way I would have happily engaged in a post auteurist thead (which I've started to try out elsewhere. And let's do it, starting with Renoir's later work, for instance.)
As it is I feel like I'm being visited by Martians.

Don't worry I'm neither green nor do I intend to eliminate all auteurists :D.
I admit that I sound quite aggressive, but then again Truffaut and allies were probably even more so, effectively smashing the careers of some directors with their vicious criticism.
Obviously there are directors who are auteurs in the purest sense like Chaplin controlling everything and then you have various diminishing degrees of influence of directors down to to MGM contract directors whose entire job was to say "action" and "cut". Lang's influence is sometimes quite big (excluding the scrpit) and sometimes so limited that then it isn't particularly helpful to talk about a "Fritz Lang film".

The more urgent point is the effect auteurism has on our knowledge of film. If you were canonized an auteur you can bet that every damned film you've turned out will be available for eternity and the Criterion Collection follows this rule focusing to a occasionally dangerous degree. But if you are not an auteur, you're in serious trouble, just search for the films of Julien Duvivier, Wolfgang Staudte or others in USA.
If I'm not entirely wrong the entire output of German films of the 30's on DVD in USA is THE BLUE ANGEL, TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, Lang's two German sound films and a melodrama by Sirk, all works by auteurs who additionally worked in USA. Needless to say that this isn't exactly a good representation.
It's even worse if you deal with 1945-1965. You get on DVD almost only two films by Lang which are really minor works and I could name you three dozen better films from this time, but ... they aren't known auteurs.
So if I argue rather violently against auteuritis, it's because the selection of films for video and DVD production follows the auteur rule, enforces their standing and kills of most of the films which aren't classified this way.

But maybe we really shouldn't hijack this thread about TESTAMENT which by the way is a nice example of the visual director Fritz Lang who films trashy stories. Lang was later able to connect his theme of doomed people with social or psychological aspects which helped the films a lot but one should never forget that he comes from the trashy pulp novel background and his intellectual grasp of stories is at least in Germany nonexistent.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 1:43 am 
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lubitsch wrote:
his intellectual grasp of stories is at least in Germany nonexistent.


Lubitsch, I understand your reservations about auteurism in general, and I think I share some of them -- hence some of my previous posts. But when you write unfounded and reductive generalizations like this, I simply have no idea what you mean or where you're coming from. When I watch Der Mude Tod, Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler, Die Nibelungen, and M, I see before me the work of extremely intelligent and sensitive filmmaker who seems to be in complete control of all the elements that go into making a great movie, not just some vague "visual" flair you keep referring to. The stories -- even in the case of M and Dr. Mabuse -- seem to have much more going on for them than thrills and pulp. And I also see lots of evidence, including some that gets mentioned in the docus on the DVDs of Dr. Mabuse and Metropolis, that Lang was a man who was deeply engaged in the intellectual and artistic movements of his period.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 3:06 am 
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Do you think he/she deserves this level of reply until he/she actually elucidates what in the hell he's talking about (eg "trash novels" (as though these were never used in cinema), a blanket statement on the "worthlessness" of various projects, etc; Lang's absence of control - over what? And of course a total rejection of auteurism, such as it was/is, and not without good reason, but he/she doesn't really amplify this, and three decades of post auteurism, since the Cahiers, Sarris canon. - plural of canon, by the way.))

When he/she can talk rationally these things I'm happy to spend more time in this pig-in-the poke.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 5:40 am 
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tryavna wrote:
lubitsch wrote:
his intellectual grasp of stories is at least in Germany nonexistent.

But when you write unfounded and reductive generalizations like this, I simply have no idea what you mean or where you're coming from. When I watch Der Mude Tod, Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler, Die Nibelungen, and M, I see before me the work of extremely intelligent and sensitive filmmaker who seems to be in complete control of all the elements that go into making a great movie, not just some vague "visual" flair you keep referring to. The stories -- even in the case of M and Dr. Mabuse -- seem to have much more going on for them than thrills and pulp. And I also see lots of evidence, including some that gets mentioned in the docus on the DVDs of Dr. Mabuse and Metropolis, that Lang was a man who was deeply engaged in the intellectual and artistic movements of his period.

DER MÃœDE TOD is a simple legend which is padded with three exotic episodes. It's not such a big affair in the intellectual department, is it? The three stories are basically all the same in their representation of a futile fight against a ruler and it isn't exactly the greatest idea to combine it with the frame story giving the impression that defeat against a tyrant is as inevitable as death himself.
DR.MABUSE is a trashy novel with enough plot complications and hollow characters to keep three films going. To represent the crises and many varying problems of the Weimar republic via a master criminal is probably the silliest imaginable idea, it certainly is an inadequate one.
I know the DIE NIBELUNGEN quite well having just made a presentation about them in a advanced seminar which dealt with the reception of the medieval epic in history. You should be aware that the story is known for
a) its logical ruptures, it's a not modern in characters and so on
b) a violently nationalistic and racist reception.
Lang's or better Harbou's adaptation solves none of the problems, they try to deal with the story problems via a good vs. evil schema which must fail. The less said about the racial aspects the better.
You kindly left out the other silents, especially METROPOLIS is a mindnumbingly dumb film, the hilarious conception of women is always great fun to watch.
With M and sound something different begins though TESTAMENT harks back to the silents. Maybe it's sound, maybe it's a budding awareness of the mounting problems of the time.
But until 1929 Lang's films are NOT intelligent. He shares this trait with other remarkable visual silent directors who were idiots if you deal with the scripts alone. Eisenstein's OCTOBER, Griffith's BIRTH and Gance's NAPOLEON are just the most obvious examples for communist, racist or fascist propaganda. Being a gifted picture maker, doesn't mean at all that you have any intellectual grasp of the world around you It's the same with music, with painting or sculpture. And you shouldn't forget that his films were written by his not overly bright wife and not by Lang himself.
Quote:
he/she

It's he :D.
Quote:
hat in the hell he's talking about (eg "trash novels" (as though these were never used in cinema)

Surely they were but you get a serious problem if your film is at the same intellectual level as the trashy story.
Quote:
And of course a total rejection of auteurism, such as it was/is, and not without good reason, but he/she doesn't really amplify this, and three decades of post auteurism, since the Cahiers, Sarris canon. - plural of canon, by the way.))

Some intellectual debates are nice and well, but the fact is that cinema still seems to be about Hitchcock and Renoir and so on. BTW I never totally rejected auteurism, it's highly useful ... if used with care and not as a way to reduce all problems of creation and evaluation.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 5:43 am 
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tryavna wrote:
lubitsch wrote:
his intellectual grasp of stories is at least in Germany nonexistent.

But when you write unfounded and reductive generalizations like this, I simply have no idea what you mean or where you're coming from. When I watch Der Mude Tod, Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler, Die Nibelungen, and M, I see before me the work of extremely intelligent and sensitive filmmaker who seems to be in complete control of all the elements that go into making a great movie, not just some vague "visual" flair you keep referring to. The stories -- even in the case of M and Dr. Mabuse -- seem to have much more going on for them than thrills and pulp. And I also see lots of evidence, including some that gets mentioned in the docus on the DVDs of Dr. Mabuse and Metropolis, that Lang was a man who was deeply engaged in the intellectual and artistic movements of his period.

DER MÃœDE TOD is a simple legend which is padded with three exotic episodes. It's not such a big affair in the intellectual department, is it? The three stories are basically all the same in their representation of a futile fight against a ruler and it isn't exactly the greatest idea to combine it with the frame story giving the impression that defeat against a tyrant is as inevitable as death himself.
DR.MABUSE is a trashy novel with enough plot complications and hollow characters to keep three films going. To represent the crises and many varying problems of the Weimar republic via a master criminal is probably the silliest imaginable idea, it certainly is an inadequate one.
I know the DIE NIBELUNGEN quite well having just made a presentation about them in a advanced seminar which dealt with the reception of the medieval epic in history. You should be aware that the story is known for
a) its logical ruptures, it's a not modern in characters and so on
b) a violently nationalistic and racist reception.
Lang's or better Harbou's adaptation solves none of the problems, they try to deal with the story problems via a good vs. evil schema which must fail. The less said about the racial aspects the better.
You kindly left out the other silents, especially METROPOLIS is a mindnumbingly dumb film, the hilarious conception of women is always great fun to watch.
With M and sound something different begins though TESTAMENT harks back to the silents. Maybe it's sound, maybe it's a budding awareness of the mounting problems of the time.
But until 1929 Lang's films are NOT intelligent. He shares this trait with other remarkable visual silent directors who were idiots if you deal with the scripts alone. Eisenstein's OCTOBER, Griffith's BIRTH and Gance's NAPOLEON are just the most obvious examples for communist, racist or fascist propaganda. Being a gifted picture maker, doesn't mean at all that you have any intellectual grasp of the world around you It's the same with music, with painting or sculpture. And you shouldn't forget that his films were written by his not overly bright wife and not by Lang himself.
Quote:
he/she

It's he :D. Sorry if the icon causes confusion, it's a German singer and actress Yvonne Catterfeld who has a remarkable similarity to Germany's and France's (and mine) most beloved actress Romy Schneider.
Quote:
hat in the hell he's talking about (eg "trash novels" (as though these were never used in cinema)

Surely they were but you get a serious problem if your film is at the same intellectual level as the trashy story.
Quote:
And of course a total rejection of auteurism, such as it was/is, and not without good reason, but he/she doesn't really amplify this, and three decades of post auteurism, since the Cahiers, Sarris canon. - plural of canon, by the way.))

Some intellectual debates are nice and well, but the fact is that cinema still seems to be about Hitchcock and Renoir and so on. BTW I never totally rejected auteurism, it's highly useful ... if used with care and not as a way to reduce all problems of creation and evaluation.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 6:14 am 
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davidhare wrote:
Do you think he/she deserves this level of reply until he/she actually elucidates what in the hell he's talking about (eg "trash novels" (as though these were never used in cinema), a blanket statement on the "worthlessness" of various projects, etc; Lang's absence of control - over what? And of course a total rejection of auteurism, such as it was/is, and not without good reason, but he/she doesn't really amplify this, and three decades of post auteurism, since the Cahiers, Sarris canon. - plural of canon, by the way.))

When he/she can talk rationally these things I'm happy to spend more time in this pig-in-the poke.


Thank you Dave. This is what is impossible to converse with. Opinions stated as fact a la "Of course we know (pure opinion strongly stated)" with no explanation whatsoever. For chrissake Lang had no background in trashy novels (!?) or any novels for that matter. Harbou published some spun off of the larger early films, but Lang came out of the military with a background in visual arts/architecture.

And what we're really arguing about is marketing. If a director has multiple, all cylinders turning flat out masterpieces-- and particularly if he made his films in more than one country over a long career-- then he's got a greater chance seeing to bulk of his canon in print. Rights are going to be spread out over the globe, and all these holders will see dollar signs for their 3 or 4 posessions and scramble to put them out on home video-- and by default... wa la: a fully available canon. If a guy has one or two masterpieces, and the rest of his ho-hum canon is buried away in one studio in one country... well yeah, it's difficult to import export. All it takes is one "no" or unreasonable price, and the whole world is deprived of everything. Look at, uh, Universal, with their silent films, all these early Paramounts, Double Indemnity... they don't care. Same w Fox and Sunrise. The whole industry begged-- it took years for them to finally allow a restoration/telecine of the best remaining fine grain... and even then they wouldn't package the fucker up for sale individually. I had to call their PR firm up claiming to be a reviewer to get a solo copy so I wouldn't have to by the other 4 discs & send in the Proof of purchase's (the way they did it at first-- there was no "Classics" box set).

Even so, there's no hard & fast rule. Being an auteur guarentees nothing yet. Where the hell is Josef Von Sternberg in R1 DVD? For that matter-- where the hell is SILENT LUBITCH in R1 DVD? Where the fuck is Ophuls? Naruse? Lupu Pick? Gerhard Lamprecht? Weine? Non-Fox USA Jules Dassin?

And by the way you've got Machden In Uniform, Munchhausen, Titanic, Storm over Mount Blanc, SOS Iceberg, The Blue Light, Olympia, Triumph of the Will (obviously), People On Sunday-- off the top of my head and with no research for 1930 (+ later) non Lang German films.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 6:34 am 
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lubitsch wrote:

DER MÃœDE TOD is a simple legend which is padded with three exotic episodes. It's not such a big affair in the intellectual department, is it?

DR.MABUSE is a trashy novel with enough plot complications and hollow characters to keep three films going. To represent the crises and many varying problems of the Weimar republic via a master criminal is probably the silliest imaginable idea, it certainly is an inadequate one.

I know the DIE NIBELUNGEN quite well having just made a presentation about them in a advanced seminar which dealt with the reception of the medieval epic in history.

You kindly left out the other silents, especially METROPOLIS is a mindnumbingly dumb film,

With M and sound something different begins though TESTAMENT harks back to the silents. Maybe it's sound, maybe it's a budding awareness of the mounting problems of the time.
But until 1929 Lang's films are NOT intelligent. He shares this trait with other remarkable visual silent directors who were idiots if you deal with the scripts alone. Eisenstein's OCTOBER, Griffith's BIRTH and Gance's NAPOLEON are just the most obvious examples for communist, racist or fascist propaganda. Being a gifted picture maker, doesn't mean at all that you have any intellectual grasp of the world around you It's the same with music, with painting or sculpture. And you shouldn't forget that his films were written by his not overly bright wife and not by Lang himself.


Idiots, stupid, mind-numbing, trashy, inadequate-- Eisenstien, Gance, Griffith, Lang. Hopefully there'll come a point-- preferably before you finish college-- when you realize how you sound, and what a basic hurdle it is in life you've not yet vaulted when hoping for a discussion on aesthetics... making unqualified sweeping nuclear pronouncements, using nothing but your own subjective taste.

I could say "Yes, those silent Lubitch custome melodramas, as well as those of Germany's favorite actress crush the sum of the above," but I like Lubitch's work here & there, it's fun lite entertainment. A little silly sometimes, even frivolous-- but sometimes that's enjoyable.


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HerrSchreck wrote:
For chrissake Lang had no background in trashy novels (!?) or any novels for that matter. Harbou published some spun off of the larger early films, but Lang came out of the military with a background in visual arts/architecture.

Thanks I'm not completely dumb. I refer to the scripts he wrote before he teamed up with Thea von Harbou.
Quote:
Idiots, stupid, mind-numbing, trashy, inadequate-- Eisenstien, Gance, Griffith, Lang. Hopefully there'll come a point-- preferably before you finish college-- when you realize how you sound, and what a basic hurdle it is in life you've not yet vaulted when hoping for a discussion on aesthetics... making unqualified sweeping nuclear pronouncements, using nothing but your own subjective taste.

If you think that it is my subjective opinion that BIRTH is racist, NAPOLEON fascistic and METROPOLIS reactionary, then you're deadly wrong. This should be common knowledge since the day the films were shown the first time. I see no particular reason why I can't trash a simpleminded propaganda film. One has to be rather stupid to make a film like NAPOLEON glorifying an unfallible leader who brought war over Europe. And Griffith wasn't too bright filming the book of a widely known racist.
If you think otherwise, I should be worried.


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lubitsch wrote:
having just made a presentation about them in a advanced seminar


Ah, I see the problem now. When I was in advanced seminars, I too tended to play devil's advocate in an attempt to seem iconoclastic. Here, unfortunately, your posts just come across as trolling. (Ironically, you're also coming across in much the same light as you view Truffaut.)

All of your comments are really just opinions, aren't they? It's obvious that, for some reason, the work of these filmmakers leave you cold. But you're fighting an uphill battle here with Lang; you're flying in the face of decades of critical opinion -- and not just that of the auteurists. Lang has been one of the great directors to benefit most from the DVD revolution (including offering full(er)-length versions of all his "trashy" silents), and his status only continues to rise. There are a lot of people who post in this forum who love Lang's work (not just me and David and Schreck), and I just don't see your half-baked criticisms of Lang convincing us to change our opinions any time soon.

I've grown a little tired of this conversation. I thought we were getting somewhere for a moment, but I guess not.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 11:23 am 
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tryavna wrote:
lubitsch wrote:
having just made a presentation about them in a advanced seminar


Ah, I see the problem now. When I was in advanced seminars, I too tended to play devil's advocate in an attempt to seem iconoclastic. Here, unfortunately, your posts just come across as trolling. (Ironically, you're also coming across in much the same light as you view Truffaut.)

I'm quite aware of this, but he was successful, wasn't he?

tryavna wrote:
All of your comments are really just opinions, aren't they? It's obvious that, for some reason, the work of these filmmakers leave you cold. But you're fighting an uphill battle here with Lang; you're flying in the face of decades of critical opinion -- and not just that of the auteurists. Lang has been one of the great directors to benefit most from the DVD revolution (including offering full(er)-length versions of all his "trashy" silents), and his status only continues to rise. There are a lot of people who post in this forum who love Lang's work (not just me and David and Schreck), and I just don't see your half-baked criticisms of Lang convincing us to change our opinions any time soon.

Well I disagree about Lang and decades of critical opinion leave me quite cold because it's quite often a mere repeating of an established canon by timid writers.
Lang fails in his silents significantly in being more than just a picture maker and therefore I don't consider his silents as major films because you need good direction, good scripts, good actors and so on. Mastering just one of this aspects doesn't make a great director. But obviously in the early silent period the directors who showed that film is an individual art form and not merely a bastard of drama and literature were valued very highly. Their significant deficiencies in other departments were conveniently overlooked. And contrary to what you write it's known for decades that Lang was essentially a director of pulp stories in his silent days or do you really want to tell me that there are interesting characters and deep insights in his silents?


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 11:28 am 
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lubitsch wrote:
or do you really want to tell me that there are interesting characters and deep insights in his silents?


Well, that's really the problem here, isn't it? We can't seem to tell you anything. :wink:


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lubitsch wrote:
having just made a presentation about them in a advanced seminar [...] especially METROPOLIS is a mindnumbingly dumb film


Yes, this seems to be the essence of the matter. Lubitsch is just "stirring the pot," and gets a hell of a kick out of it as so many people accept his "bait." Not to mention comparing himself to Truffaut and giving himself credit for being "just as successful," clearly this can't be taken seriously. With the added benefit of hindsight, I find all of this friggin' hilarious!!(No offense, anyone.) You excel at goading people into giving you lots of attention, lubitsch. I have to give credit where credit is due. =D>


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 1:00 pm 
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viciousliar wrote:
Lubitsch is just "stirring the pot," and gets a hell of a kick out of it as so many people accept his "bait." Not to mention comparing himself to Truffaut and giving himself credit for being "just as successful," clearly this can't be taken seriously. With the added benefit of hindsight, I find all of this friggin' hilarious!!(No offense, anyone.) You excel at goading people into giving you lots of attention, lubitsch. I have to give credit where credit is due. =D>

Where did I exactly say that I'm "just as successful", hm?
Just because my opinion is presented in a rather aggressive way it doesn't devalue it automatically. And I'm still waiting for people who can prove the deep insights of Lang's silents.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 1:08 pm 

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lubitsch wrote:
I admit that I sound quite aggressive, but then again Truffaut and allies were probably even more so, effectively smashing the careers of some directors with their vicious criticism.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 1:11 pm 

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lubitsch wrote:
tryavna wrote:
lubitsch wrote:
having just made a presentation about them in a advanced seminar


Ah, I see the problem now. When I was in advanced seminars, I too tended to play devil's advocate in an attempt to seem iconoclastic. Here, unfortunately, your posts just come across as trolling. (Ironically, you're also coming across in much the same light as you view Truffaut.)

I'm quite aware of this, but he was successful, wasn't he?


There you go. :wink:


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 1:30 pm 
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lubitsch wrote:
If you think that it is my subjective opinion that BIRTH is racist, NAPOLEON fascistic and METROPOLIS reactionary, then you're deadly wrong. This should be common knowledge since the day the films were shown the first time.

You're asking us to prove the merits of Lang's silent work while you toss out these mere assertions. You've done little to defend your reductionist characterization of Metropolis, which is hardly universally supported by critics (even the non-timid ones). It's more accepted that Birth of a Nation is racist (and I happen to agree) but I don't think there was a uniform consensus on this in the past (James Agee defended it, etc.) or even today. "Mindnumbingly dumb" and "reactionary" are not exactly scientific measurements, so how can you say that subjectivity has nothing to do with these evaluations?


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 4:13 pm 
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I thought even, around eight posts ago Lube might have been trying for a critical evalutaion, but the rest is just sophomoric.

However one interesting observation arises from Lube's rantings and it's not specific to him but is far too common in college undergrads and their teachers. Every utterance of analysis is narratively or historically based or a reaction to the accepted wisdoms (this itself not a bad thing, but not without a substittution based on reasoning and personal insight.) Nowhere in Lube's posts do I see a skerrick of visual or formal analysis. It's one thing to write off Metropolis, say, based on the von Harbou elements of the screenplay, but that completely ignores Lang's work on charcterization, and visual schema. How does he set up a master shot? How does he manage scenes of conflict or violence? What sort of decoupage does he employ? How often does he move his camera, and for what purposes? Does he ever engage a long travelling shot as a plan-sequence? How does he demonstrate the moral ambiguities of his "heros" from Death itself to Glenn Ford or Walter Pidgeon?

On this enough. Lube is demonstrating to me anyway the absolutely impoverished quality of film teaching in many Universities.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 6:27 pm 
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davidhare wrote:
I thought even, around eight posts ago Lube might have been trying for a critical evalutaion, but the rest is just sophomoric.

However one interesting observation arises from Lube's rantings and it's not specific to him but is far too common in college undergrads and their teachers. Every utterance of analysis is narratively or historically based or a reaction to the accepted wisdoms (this itself not a bad thing, but not without a substittution based on reasoning and personal insight.) Nowhere in Lube's posts do I see a skerrick of visual or formal analysis. It's one thing to write off Metropolis, say, based on the von Harbou elements of the screenplay, but that completely ignores Lang's work on charcterization, and visual schema. How does he set up a master shot? How does he manage scenes of conflict or violence? What sort of decoupage does he employ? How often does he move his camera, and for what purposes? Does he ever engage a long travelling shot as a plan-sequence? How does he demonstrate the moral ambiguities of his "heros" from Death itself to Glenn Ford or Walter Pidgeon?

On this enough. Lube is demonstrating to me anyway the absolutely impoverished quality of film teaching in many Universities.

Any other profound insights beyond this last sentence? Isn't it mildly ridculous to draw conclusions from the postings of one poster about the quality of film teachings in many universities? And is it so damnedly hard to understand that I specifically want to avoid the point of formal analysis and talk about the content?

Quote:
You're asking us to prove the merits of Lang's silent work while you toss out these mere assertions. You've done little to defend your reductionist characterization of Metropolis, which is hardly universally supported by critics (even the non-timid ones).

I haven't heard yet that anybody thinks that METROPOLIS is a remarkably intelligent picture, Lang himself was embarassed by the film's plot. I mean you rarely get stereotypes in a purer form than in Harbou's screenplays.
Racistic aspects in DIE NIBELUNGEN including subhuman Huns against Aryan knights and a characterization of Alberich as cunning Jew. Female stereotypes in their wildest form in METROPOLIS, the good girl is saintly and asexual, the bad girl a sexual maniac. The pulp novel characterization in MABUSE or DIE FRAU IM MOND, you don't need long to tell who the bad and good guys are, do you? To take one of Murnau's films written by Harbou, you have a reactionary "return to the home soil" agenda in DER BRENNENDE ACKER. The ending of METROPOLIS was widely considered a prefascistic solution of the class struggle using a leader figure who represents the heart and reconciles all diverging interests. And so on and on.
I frankly don't see how you can overlook these problems. And analyzing frames, camera movements like David won't explain any of these problems away. On the contrary it narrows film criticism down to pure formalism.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 6:40 pm 
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So just because a film is rascist or sexist it can no longer--formally--be a fine film?

I mean if we applied this approach to all art we wouldn't have much left to discuss. Bye bye Hemingway, Dante, Wagner, Lubitsch, Dostoevsky, etc etc etc (just to randomly pick a few from a few different countries).

And then we could start with the history of philosophy (where the ideas do count) and we'd be scratching our heads a lot.

P.S. I think Lang's silents are terrific, especially Mabuse the Gambler, Spione and Die Niebelungen, but isn't this thread supposed to be about his first talkie? (oops, second)


Last edited by denti alligator on Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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