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Hans-Jurgen Syberberg Edit Profile

film producer

Hans-Jurgen Syberberg was a German film producer.

Background

Hans-Jürgen Syberberg was born on December 8, 1935 in Nossendorf, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.

Education

Hans-Jürgen Syberberg studied literature and history of art at Munich.

Career

His theatrical re-creation of history serves as satire, but Syberberg also cherishes Wagners romanticism and frequently fills the movie with unabashed heroic grandeur. His analytical approach to German history is achieved through a balance of detachment and immersion, and never carries any note of sanctimonious hindsight.

Ludwig s Cook has an actor playing the cook and leading us on a tour of Ludwig’s palaces. It is history reconstructed from the kitchen’s vantage: domestic, irreverent, but demented in that the cook himself is a tyrant who monopolizes the camera and shuffles his roles as actor and character as if he were masturbating. Karl May is a kind of primitive biopic, peopled with actors from the thirties and forties, about the writer of inspirational adventures, the link between Ludwig and Hitler at that hysterical level of blood-and-thunder patriotism. Winifred Wagner was another innovation: a five-hour interview with the composer’s daughter- in-law. There is a two-hour version in general circulation, and it is a compelling portrait of a person involved in historv’s making, revealing part of that mentality and yet still unaware of all its implications.

These projects were leading to the gargantuan Hitler film: twenty-two chapters in four parts and seven hours, it is the sum total of images, ghosts, and interpretations of Hitler. Most akin to Ludwig, it is theatrical and fairground-like, but always a jungle made into an argument by the calm scrutiny of the camera. Its freedom with levels of artifice and reality makes it a study of the ways we have tried to assimilate, forget, or reform ourselves after the ghastliest event of our time. Like Lang, though, Syberberg employs the didactic stance produced by offsetting the world’s disorder with the camera’s superb authority.

This marked as great a turning point for Syberberg as the conclusion of the moral tales did for Rohmer. He may need history’s text as much as Rossellini did, but he is not unappreciative of the narrative illusion of cinema: “My Hitler film shows how the war ended in Europe with a whole culture, a whole continent destroyed. If, in his black way, Hitler had succeeded in establishing his concept of a heroic Europe (and he was very near to doing so), it would have been the tragic end of mankind as we had known it before. At the beginning of the film I show a little corner of the hell; at the end, I show, not only hell, but also how the reality of Hitler is turned into a part of the entertainment industry.'

Since Parsifal. Syberberg has largely withdrawn from any conventional pattern of work. Instead, he has collaborated intensely with the actress Edith Clever in a series of dramatic monologues to he staged in theatres and then filmed. Die Nacht six hours long was the first of these, and the series culminated in 1990 with Ein Traum, Was Sonst, in which Clever plays ihe widowed daughter-in-law of Bismarck, recounting the events of her life and the passage of Germany.

This work has scarcely been seen outside Germany, and it has not found proper funding. Moreoxer, Syberberg has elected not to distribute the films he has finished. A fatal magnificence has set in: "People must come to my films on their own.

In addition, he has written three books, notably On the Misfortune and Fortune of Art in Germany Since the Last War which have earned a great deal ot criticism and charges of anti-Semitism.

Recluse or tvrant, Syberberg is a self-conscious, self-confessed genius, and it is hard to believe that such isolation is good for his work, or that it will diminish his passion for history. He is supposed to be writing his autobiography, and it can hardly be less than epic. Syberberg gives us this advice, tablets sent down from the mountain: “People have to trust the development and make the transformation with me.”

Works