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PNFS: Ernst Lubitsch in Berlin

PNFS: Ernst Lubitsch in Berlin

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  • Wed 14 Sep ’11, 6:00pm


Downtown Cinemas, 70 Broadway Ave, Palmerston North


All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Waged membership: $85.00
  • Unwaged membership: $70.00
  • Triple feature card: $30.00
  • High school student: $30.00

Directed by Robert Fischer
Germany 2006 (110mins)

The trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0Wfbf2tjqU

This documentary depicts Ernst Lubitsch’s life in Berlin throughout the 1910s and 1920s and traces his rise to becoming Germany’s most prominent film director.

These days, he rarely gets the recognition he deserves. Perhaps this is because he died over a half century ago, while other old master filmmakers continued to make films into the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. More likely it's because he specialised in comedy, a form for which many scholars have no use. But Lubitsch showed not only a distinctive style to rival Hitchcock's or Welles' but also an innate feel for the cinema. He understood the rhythms of the form, and knew exactly how to use them. In his day, the "Lubitsch Touch" was a catchphrase as easy to apply as it was impossible to describe.

The documentary’s seven chapters take the viewer on a journey through Lubitsch’s life, from his beginnings as the son of a Jewish tailor in Berlin at the end of the 19th century to the peak of his career as Germany’s foremost film director.

He began playing bit parts at Max Reinhardt’s Deutsches Theater, followed by a series of minor eccentric roles in a variety of films. He finally gained recognition as a successful comic actor playing the likes of Moritz Abramowsky, Siegmund Lachmann, Moritz Apfelreis, Sally Pinkus, Sally Katz and Sally Meyer.

After establishing himself as Germany’s most eminent film director, he leaves for Hollywood in 1922, returning to Germany for just two brief visits. The documentary does not take a detailed look at Lubitsch’s attempts to break into Hollywood during his many years there.

The film provides a revealing insight into Lubitsch’s life using private anecdotes, historical documents and comments from historians and his family. In addition to interviews with Lubitsch's daughter Nicola, who was nine when her father died in 1947, and her daughter Amanda Goodpaster, the film features German film historians who discuss Lubitsch’s career and legacy.

Rare film clips, newly discovered photographs, newsreel footage and original audio recordings with actress Henny Porten, other first-hand witnesses and Lubitsch himself round off this comprehensive portrait of one of cinema's few true geniuses.

These comments are interspersed by excerpts from 20 films directed by and/or starring Ernst Lubitsch, including: Ich möchte kein Mann sein (I Don’t Want to Be a Man) (1918), Die Austernprinzessin (The Oyster Princess) (1919). Both these films are being screened later in the year.

Members only. Palmerston North Film Society Membership is available at the door before each screening and lasts for one full year.

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