Her son-in-law, Ippolit Matwejewitch Worobjaninow, is a former nobleman and a dandy who is currently wasting away as a small town magistrate in charge of civil marriages. He eagerly takes up the quest to find the treasure. Meanwhile, over the years, the twelve chairs have been dispersed all over the country. However, Worobjaninow is not the only one in pursuit of the treasure. Hot on its trail are Ostap Bender, a clever and colorful conman, as well as Father Fjodor, a priest to whom the wealthy aristocrat has also confessed her secret. Thus begins a wild chase that ranges from North to South, West to East, across water and land, from the country to the city. —Ulrike Ottinger
Ulrike Ottinger (born June 6, 1942) is a German filmmaker, documentarian and photographer. She is the daughter of the artist-painter Ulrich Ottinger.
From 1959 she was a visiting student at the Academy of Arts in Munich and worked as a painter.
From 1962 to 1968, she worked as a freelance artist in Paris and studied etching with Johnny Friedlaender among other studies. They participated in several exhibitions. In 1966 she wrote her first screenplay, entitled Die Mongolische Doppelschublade.
Ottinger returned to West Germany in 1969 and, in cooperation with the Film Seminar at the University of Konstanz, founded the film club “Visuell”, which she directed until 1972. She also headed a gallery and the associated "galeriepress”, where they edited works by contemporary artists.
During this time she met Tabea Blumenschein and Magdalena Montezuma, both of whom have been cast as lead actresses in her films since 1972. Ottinger developed her own bizarre… read more
Of what i've seen from Ottinger, i liked her Johanna d'Arc of Mongolia and Freak Orlando most of all (but Taiga is still a serious competitor to be examined). In 12 chairs her theatrical nonchalance is outrageously present (theatrical not as melodramatic, but because i think she borrows from theatre this synechdochic manner to employ space and objects, to order the viewer to take a part for the whole and take it for
granted that if the plot is set in 1927, they should not fuss at director's lack of care to cosmeticize the actual place where the film takes place - a very 21st century Odessa, with trams, container-field markets, shops with neon signs, raffia checkered bags for all purposes, etc. – but rather see it as an opportunity in exercising their ability to build elastic viaducts between plot and background), which makes me wonder if i will ever be able to watch, unirritated and not sickened by such meticulous redundancy (i exaggerate), a hi-fi historical reconstruction of an event in film (ancient rome being Ancient Rome to the farthest corners of a frame, middle ages being Middle Ages up until the credits section, etc.). In this, she is very close to her Johanna d'Arc of Mongolia style, where she brought together and assembled on one chronological string sparrows from different times and milieus. I didn't expect to like 12 chairs, but i did. Its characters are like the ever anachronical in their dress and ever accepted and recognized in their anachronicity – thus become synchronicity - figures of commedia dell'arte. I admire this DIY spirit in a director who already acquired a status, which would make such solutions replaceable, but who still holds on to them, because she finds them stylistically, not just technically viable. Plus, Ulrike has a thing for so-called intra-directorial hypertext, she quotes herself often. She brings up Orlando in a film besides Freak Orlando, be it Woolf’s Orlando or Orlando innamorato, so don’t miss Laocoon in 12 chairs. She is not like Omirbaev, who dresses old stories in modern clothes, making them “actual” by showing that they are archetypal, occurring at all times and places (But if they are so, what use one has of an author? The author then becomes a scientist, who shows “how reality works ”, but in this position of scientist annihilates his very presence, ‘cuz how many of us remember who discovered electricity, when we plug in our fridges? Why is invention inferior to discovery?), but rather tests the exchange value of a story keeping its materiality, its belonging to another era, though not in its relevance as “metaphor” and critique, but more in its playful, entertaining potential, one foot in actuality. Like a play that ran amok, descended from the stage and went on dancing on the streets like a Eastern European wedding suite.