Thursday, February 07, 2008


This is my comment in Girish Shambu’s blog:

I apologize in advance if I remember anything wrongly.

Some interesting rear projections:

1.THE NASTY GIRL (1989, Michael Verhoeven, West Germany)

I think there are some scenes in this film in which we see rear projections of an image of the goddess of justice. The goddess of justice in the rear projection is sometimes sleeping, sometimes waking; it depends on what is happening in front of her. In the website of Harvard Film Archive, it is said that “Verhoeven’s clever use of visual techniques, such as rear-screen projection, provides an ironic commentary on the facade of normalcy projected by Germany at the end of the Cold War.”

2. BREMEN FREEDOM (1972, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, West Germany)

The true story of a female serial killer is played out in a bare set, nearly as bare as the set of DOGVILLE. But this film also uses rear projections. While we are watching the murderess doing some activities in her house, we can see images of some landscapes in the rear projection at the same time. But in some scenes the rear projection shows huge close-up images of the murderess’ face. And that really makes that scene much more intense. I like this kind of rear projection very much. We can see the character moving about in a medium shot, but in the background we can see huge close-up of her face. This kind of rear projection really heightens my emotions, and is one of the reasons why BREMEN FREEDOM is my most favorite Fassbinder’s film.

3. LUDWIG – REQUIEM FOR A VIRGIN KING (1972, Hans-Juergen Syberberg, West Germany)

4.HITLER: A FILM FROM GERMANY (1977, Hans-Juergen Syberberg, West Germany)

You can see some images of HITLER: A FILM FROM GERMANY at dvdbeaver’s website:

As for Syberberg’s films, Anton Kaes wrote a great article on them in the book FROM HITLER TO HEIMAT: THE RETURN OF HISTORY AS FILM (Harvard University Press, 1989). Here are some quotes from the book:


“Ludwig’s flight from the realpolitik of the Bismarck era into Wagner’s mythic world of art has itself become a myth, or more precisely, a myth that soon degenerated into fantastic triviality thanks to tourism and the souvenir industry. The trivial myths surrounding the mysterious king of the fairy-tale castles are mercilessly illustrated at the end of the film. A rear-projection of a documentary showing hordes of American tourists jostling their way through his Neuschawanstein castle on a guided tour is superimposed over Ludwig, who sits at a table, his head buried in grief. The tourists look like phantoms from a nightmare. The projection makes it clear to what extent the romantic myth of the solitary artist, bewitched by beauty, is currently marketed as kitsch. Syberberg’s LUDWIG sheds light on both the origin and the trivialization of the myth of the royal dreamer.”


“In HITLER we have the figure of Karl-Wilhelm Krause, Hitler’s valet from 1934 on. Helmut Lange plays Krause as the proverbial servant who is as conscientious as he is pedantic. His memories, recited dryly into the camera for an entire half-hour, give an unusual view of Hitler as private person….

The private, petit-bourgeois idyll of daily life described in detail in Krause’s monologue is counterpointed throughout the scene by huge background projections of Hitler’s two residences, the Reich Chancellery and the teahouse on Obersalzberg. These grainy films, mostly taken with a hand-held camera, create the impression of a simulated environment through which Krause wanders like a tourist. At times, especially when the film shows extreme close-ups of Hitler’s furniture, Krause appears dwarfed. The documentary film plays independently of the private story, as silent witness of a greater history. But while the valet loses himself further and further in a thicket of trivialities, something unexpected happens in the silent film behind him. First we see stills of Hitler’s office, then, shot from the same angle, its total destruction in 1945. This cut dramatizes the instantaneous reversal from pomp and glory to ashes and ruins, undermining the valet’s happy memories and silently contradicting his grotesquely limited view of history. A further layer of associations is added to this scene through a musical collage that combines march music and motifs from Wagner’s Rienzi.

The vertical structure of this scene is a product of the layering of various linguistic, musical, and visual codes. Its simultaneous effects can only be approximated in a nonspatial medium like writing. Private and political, fictional and authentic, trivial and world-historical matters are intertwined and evoked at the same time.”

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