Rainer Werner Fassbinder, speculated upon the place Schroeter and his films might some day hold for the history of cinema: Werner Schroeter will one day have a place in the history of film that I would describe in literature as somewhere between Novalis, Lautréamont, and Louis-Ferdinand Céline; he was an ‘underground’ director for ten years, and they didn’t want to let him slip out of this role. Werner Schroeter’s grand cinematic scheme of the world was confined, repressed, and at the same time ruthlessly exploited. His films were given the convenient label of ‘underground’, which transforms them in a flash into beautiful but exotic plants that bloomed so unusually and so far away that basically one couldn’t be bothered with them, and therefore wasn’t supposed to bother with them. And that’s precisely as wrong as it is stupid. For Werner Schroeter’s films are not far away; they’re beautiful but not exotic. On the contrary.
The Films of Max Ophuls Max Ophuls (1902-1957) was a supreme stylist of the cinema and a master storyteller of romance, doomed love and sexual passion. Fusing the subject of his stories with his endlessly mobile camera, he choreographed emotion, overflowing into ecstatic and extended moments that merge images of desire with desire for cinema. As his themes focus so closely on people and their extreme feelings, performance and star presence are of the essence in Ophuls’ cinema, and it is often in dance sequences that all of these elements intertwine: in Liebelei (1932), Fritz and Christine fall in love while dancing to a mechanical jukebox, surrounded by mirrors and caught in their movement by the movement of the camera; in Earrings of Madame de… (1953), Louise and Donati’s flirtation develops into amour fou across a series of sequences in which camera, mirrors, human emotions and dance fuse and fragment. Ophuls was a truly international director, born, emblematically, in the Saar, a small state located between France and Germany. His filmmaking career began in Berlin in the early 1930s, in the aftermath of the transition to sound and just before the Nazi party came to power. After 1933, unlike many of his contemporary ethnic exiles, Ophuls attempted to remain in Europe, moving to France, where he worked – with films produced also in Italy and Holland – until forced to move to the US by the German occupation of 1941. Ophuls was the last of the exiles to arrive in Hollywood and found the environment hard. He was comparatively unknown, lacking a U.S. success as a “calling card,” and he came up against studio intransigence with his insistence on persisting with his own idiosyncratic shooting style. His elegant, elongated takes often overstepped the limits of conventional editing rhythm so that disapproving, self-righteous editors would chop his shots or break them up with cutaways (sometimes with the connivance of audience-nervous producers). But Ophuls also flourished in Hollywood, relishing the opportunities offered by highly skilled technicians, the studio sets with walls and staircases that could be moved at will, the tracks, cranes and so on, altogether the most advanced mechanisms of cinema in the