Alexander Kluge - Director





Nationality: German. Born: Halberstadt, 14 February 1932. Education: Charlottenburger Gymnasium, Berlin, Abitur 1949; studied law and history at Freiburg, Marburg, and Johann-Wolfgang Goethe Universität, Frankfurt (degree in law, 1953). Career: Lawyer, novelist, and political writer, 1950s; began in films as assistant to Fritz Lang, 1958; leader and spokesman of group of German filmmakers protesting condition of German filmmaking, Oberhausen Festival, 1962; head of film division of Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm (known as "Institut für Filmgestaltung"), from 1962; founder, Kairos-Films, 1963. Awards: Berliner Kuntspreis for Lebensläufe , 1964; Bayrischer Staatspreis für Literatur, for Porträt einer Bewärung and for Schlachtbeschreibung ; Golden Lion, Venice Festival, for Die Artisten in der Zirkus-kuppel: ratlos , 1967; Honorary Professor, University of Frankfurt am Main, 1973; International Critics award, Cannes Festival, for Ferdinand the Strongman , 1976; Fontane-Preis, 1979; Grosser Breme Literatur-preis, 1979. Address: Elisabethstrasse 38, 8000 Munich 40, Germany.




Films as Director:

1960

Brutalität in Stein ( Die Ewigkeit von gestern ; Brutality in Stone ; Yesterday Goes on for Ever ) (co-d) (short)

1961

Rennen ( Racing ) (co-d) (short)

1963

Lehrer im Wandel ( Teachers in Transformation ) (co-d) (short)

1964

Porträt einer Bewährung ( Portrait of One Who Proved His Mettle ) (short)

1966

Pokerspiel (short); Abschied von gestern ( Yesterday Girl )

1967

Frau Blackburn, geb. 5 Jan. 1872, wird gefilmt ( Frau Blackburn, Born 5 Jan. 1872, Is Filmed ) (short); Die Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel: ratlos ( Artistes at the Top of the Big Top—Disoriented )

1968

Feuerlöscher E. A. Winterstein ( Fireman E. A. Winterstein ) (short)

Alexander Kluge on the set of Yesterday Girl
Alexander Kluge on the set of Yesterday Girl

1969

Die unbezähmbare Leni Peickert ( The Indomitable Leni Peickert ); Ein Arzt aus Halberstadt ( A Doctor from Halberstadt ) (short)

1970

Der grosse Verhau ( The Big Dust-up )

1971

Wir verbauen 3 x 27 Milliarden Dollar in einen Angriffs-schlachter ( Der Angriffsschlachter ; We'll Blow 3 x 27 Billion Dollars on a Destroyer ; The Destroyer ) (short); Willi Tobler und der Untergang der sechste Flotte ( Willi Tobler and the Wreck of the Sixth Fleet )

1972

Besitzbürgerin, Jahrgang 1908 ( A Woman from the Property-owning Middle Class, Born 1908 ) (short)

1973

Gelegenheitsarbeit einer Sklavin ( Occasional Work of a Female Slave )

1974

In Gefahr und grösster Not bringt der Mittelweg den Tod ( The Middle of the Road Is a Very Dead End )

1975

Der starke Ferdinand ( Strongman Ferdinand ); Augen aus einem anderen Land

1977

Die Menschen, die die Staufer-Austellung vorbereiten ( Die Menschen, die das Stauferjahr vorbereiten ; The People Who Are Preparing the Year of the Hohenstaufens ) (co-d) (short); "Zu böser Schlacht schleich' ich heut' Nacht so bang" ( In Such Trepidation I Creep off Tonight to the Evil Battle ) (revised version of Willi Tobler and the Wreck of the Sixth Fleet )

1979

Die Patriotin ( The Patriotic Woman )

1980

Der Kandidat (co-d)

1983

Krieg und Frieden (co-d); Die Macht der Gefühle ( The Power of Emotions )

1985

Der Angriff der Gegenwart auf die Ubrige Zeit ( The Blind Director )

1987

Vermischte Nachrichten (+ sc, pr)



Other Films:

1965

Unendliche Fahrt—aber begrenzt (Reitz) (feature) (text)

1973

Die Reise nach Wien (Reitz) (sc)

1978

Deutschland im Herbst ( Germany in Autumn ) (Schlöndorff) (contribution)

1986

There Must Be a Way Out: The Film World of Alexander Kluge (Buchka) (addl d)

1989

Schweinegeld, Ein Marchen der Gebruder Nimm (pr)

Publications


By KLUGE: books—

Kulturpolitik und Ausgabenkontrolle , Frankfurt, 1961.

Lebensläufe , Stuttgart, 1962; 2nd edition, Frankfurt, 1974.

Schlachtbeschreibung , Olten and Freiburg, 1964; expanded edition, Munich, 1978.

Abschied von gestern , Frankfurt am Main, n.d.

Die Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel: ratlos. Die Ungläubige. Projekt Z. Sprüche der Leni Peickert , Munich, 1968.

Der Untergang der sechsten Armee—Schlachtbeschreibung , Munich, 1969.

Öffentlichkeit und Erfahrung. Zur Organisationsanalyse bürgerlicher und proletarischer öffentlichkeit , with Oskar Negt, Frankfurt, 1972.

Filmwirtschaft in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und in Europa. Götterdämmerung in Raten , with Florian Hopf and Michael Dost, Munich, 1973.

Lernprozesse mit tödlichem Ausgang , Frankfurt, 1973.

Gelegenheitsarbeit einer Sklavin. Zur realistischen Methode , Frank-furt, 1975.

Neue Erzählungen. Hefte 1–18 "Unheimlichkeit der Zeit, " Frank-furt, 1977.

Die Patriotin , Frankfurt, 1979.

Geschichte und Eigensinn , with Oskar Negt, 1982.

Die Macht der Gefühle , Frankfurt, 1984.

Der Angriff de Gegenwart auf die übrige zeit , Frankfurt, 1985.

Theodor Fontane, Heinrich von Kleist und Anna Wilde: Zur Grammatik der Zeit , K. Wagenbach, 1987.

Public Sphere and Experience: Toward an Analysis of the Bourgeois and Proletarian Public Sphere , with Oskar Negt, University of Minnesota Press, 1993.

Ich Schulde der Welt einen Toten: Gesprache , Rotbuch Verlag, 1995.

Learning Process with a Deadly Outcome , translated by Christopher Pavsek, Durham, 1996.


By KLUGE: articles—

"Medienproduktion," in Perspektiven der kommunalen Kulturpolitik , edited by Hoffman and Hilmar, Frankfurt, 1974.

"KINO-Gespräch mit Alexander Kluge," interview with A. Meyer, in KINO (Berlin), May 1974.

Interview with J. Dawson, in Film Comment (New York), November/December 1974.

"Film ist das natürliche Tauschverhältnis der Arbeit. . . ," interview with B. Steinborn, in Filmfaust (Frankfurt), December 1977.

"Das Theater der spezialisten, Kraut und Rüben," interview with M. Schaub, in Cinema (Zurich), May 1978.

"Kluge Issue" of ZEIT Magazin , 9 March 1979.

" Die Patriotin : Entstehungsgeschichte—Inhalt," in Filmkritik (Mu-nich), November 1979.

"Eine realistische Haltung müsste der Zuschauer haben, müsste ich jaben, müsste der Film Haben," with R. Frey, in Filmfaust (Frankfurt), November 1980.

"On Film and the Public Sphere," in New German Critique , Fall 1981-Winter 1982.

Interviews with B. Steinborn in Filmfaust (Frankfurt), February/March 1982 and February/March 1983.

"Zum Unterschied von Machtbar und Gewalttatig: Die Macht der Bewusstseinsindustrie und das Schicksal Unserer Offentlichkeit," in Merkur: Deutsche Zeitschrift fur Europaisches Denken , April 1984.

"Das Schicksal und Seine Gegengeschichten: Zu Zwei Textstellen aus Opern," in Merkur: Deutsche Zeitschrift fur Europaisches Denken , September 1984.

"Symposium on Homelessness," in If You Lived Here: The City in Art, Theory, and Social Activism , Bay Press, 1991.

"Film Digression," in Writing in the Film Age: Essays by Contemporary Novelists , University of Colorado Press, 1991.

"Kluge's Dilemmas," in Filmnews , April 1992.

"Resurrection," in Art from the Ashes: A Holocaust Anthology , Oxford University Press, 1995.


ON KLUGE: books—

Buselmeier, M., In Gefahr und grösster not bringt der mittelweg den tod. Zur operativität bei Alexander Kluge , Heidelberg, 1975.

Gregor, Ulrich, and others, Herzog, Kluge, Straub , Munich, 1976.

Kötz, M., and P. Höhe, Sinnlichkeit des Zusammenhangs, Zur Filmstrategie Alexander Kluges , Frankfurt, 1979.

Lewandowski, Rainer, Alexander Kluge , Munich, 1980.

Sandford, John, The New German Cinema , Totowa, New Jersey, 1980.

Franklin, James, New German Cinema: From Oberhausen to Hamburg , Boston, 1983.

Phillips, Klaus, New German Filmmakers: From Oberhausen through the 1970s , New York, 1984.

Carp, Stefanie, Kriegsgeschichten: zum werk Alexander Kluges , Munich, 1987.

Alexander Kluge: A Retrospective , Goethe Institute, 1988.

O'Kane, John Russell, Film and Cultural Politics after the Avantgarde , University of Minnesota, 1988.

Rentschler, Eric, West German Filmmakers on Film: Visions and Voices , New York, 1988.

Elsaesser, Thomas, New German Cinema: A History , London, 1989.

Gnam, Andrea, Positionen der wunschokonomie: das asthetische textmodell Alexander Kluges und seine philosophischen voraussetzungen , P. Lang, 1989.

Kaes, Anton. From "Hitler" to "Heimat": The Return of History as Film , Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1989.

Lutze, Peter-Charles, The Last Modernist: The Film and Television Work of Alexander Kluge , Madison, Wisconsin, 1991.

Steckel, Gerd, The Empty Space in Between: Alexander Kluge's Texts and Films between the Traditions of Enlightenment and Romantic Discourses , Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1992.

Gruneis, Olaf, Schauspielerische darstellung in filmen Alexander Kluges: Zur Ideologiekritik des schauspielens im film , Die Blaue Eule, 1994.

Pavsek, Christopher Paul, The Utopia of Film: The Critical Theory and Films of Alexander Kluge , Duke University, 1994.

Fehrenbach, Heide, Cinema in Democratizing Germany: Reconstructing National Identity after Hitler , North Carolina University Press, 1995.

Huyssen, Andreas, Twilight Memories: Marking Time in a Culture of Amnesia , New York, 1995.

On KLUGE: articles—

"Kluge Issue" of Filmkritik (Munich), December 1976.

Moeller, H. B., and C. Springer, "Directed Change in the Young German Film: Alexander Kluge and Artists under the Big Top: Perplexed," in Wide Angle (Athens, Ohio), vol .2, no. 1, 1978.

Bruck, J., "Kluge's Antagonistic Concept of Realism," in Australian Journal of Screen Theory (Kensington, New South Wales), no. 13/14, 1983.

Tournès, A., "Kluge: L'intelligence du sentiment. Armer les entiments," in Jeune Cinéma (Paris), November 1983.

"Alexander Kluge," in Film Dope (London), January 1985.

Hansen, M., "The Stubborn Discourse: History and Storytelling in the Films of Alexander Kluge," in Persistence of Vision (Maspeth, New York), Fall 1985.

Steinborn, B., "Der Verfuhrerische Charme der Phantasie," in Filmfaust (Frankfurt), December 1985/January 1986.

Bowie, A., "Alexander Kluge: An Introduction," in Cultural Critique , Fall 1986.

Bruck, Jan, "Brecht and Kluge's Aesthetics of Realism," in Poetics: International Review for the Theory of Literature , April 1988.

"Kluge Issue" of October , Fall 1988.

Huber, A, "Kluge Sites," in Filmnews , vol. 19, no. 9, 1989.

Rainer, Y., and Larsen, E., "We Are Demolition Artists," in Independent , June 1989.

"Special Issue on Alexander Kluge," New German Critique , Win-ter 1990.

Kaes, Anton, "History and Film: Public Memory in the Age of Electronic Dissemination," in History and Memory , no. 1, 1990.

Mantegna, Gianfranco, "Television and Its Shadow: New German Video: Kluge, Klier, Odenbach," in Arts Magazine , January 1991.

Bruck, J, "Kluge's Dilemmas," in Filmnews , vol. 22, no. 3, 1992.

Pavsek, Christopher, "The Storyteller in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: Alexander Kluge's Reworking of Walter Benjamin," in Found Object , Fall 1993.

Staunton, Denis, "Vox Appeal," in Guardian , 8 November 1993.

Schulte, C. and G. Vogt, "Vorwort," in Augen-Blick (Marburg), no. 23, August 1996.


* * *


Alexander Kluge, the chief ideologue of the new German cinema, is the author of various books in the areas of sociology, contemporary philosophy, and social theory. In 1962 he helped initiate, and was the spokesman for, the "Oberhausen Manifesto," in which "Das Opas Kino" ("grandpa's cinema") was declared dead.

At the same time Kluge published his first book, Lebensläufe , a collection of stories that presented a comprehensive cross-section of contemporary life along with its deeply rooted historical causes. His method is grounded in a rich and representative mosaic of sources: fiction, public records and reports, essays, actual occurrences, news, quotations, observations, ideas, and free associations. The method is used by Kluge as a principle of construction in his best films, such as Abschied von gestern, Die Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel: ratlos , In Gefahr und grösster Not bringt der Mittelweg den Tod , and in the series of collective films: Deutschland im Herbst, Der Kandidat , and Krieg und Frieden. The theme of war, in particular the Second World War, appears in all his works.

Kluge views filmmaking as another form of writing since it essentially continues the recording of his participation in the development of society and in everyday life. His unifying creative trait could be called verbal concentration, or image concentration. His filmic activity is a living extension of his comprehensive epistemological and sociological researches, which he has published, together with Oskar Negt (associated with the "Frankfurt School" of Adorno and Horkheimer), as Öffentlichkeit und Erfahrung (1972) and Geschichte und Eigensinn (1982).

Kluge's films probe reality—not by way of the fantastic fictions of Fassbinder, or film school pictures as with Wenders—but through establishing oppositions and connections between facts, artifacts, reflections, and bits of performance. The protagonists of his feature films are mostly women who seek to grasp and come to terms with their experiences. For the sake of continuity these women are played either by Alexandra Kluge, his sister, or by Hannelore Hoger. They move through the jungle of contemporary life, watching and witnessing, suffering and fighting. The director mirrors their experiences.

As a filmmaker, Kluge is unique, but not isolated. The three collective films, which together with Volker Schlöndorff, Fassbinder, Stephan Aust, and others he has devoted to the most pressing contemporary events, are something new and original in the history of world cinema. Without Kluge these would be inconceivable, since it is he who pulls together and organizes, aesthetically and ideologically, the fragments filmed by the others. He creates film forms and image structures to transform the various narrative modes and artistic conceptions into a new, conscious, mobilized art of cinema, free of fantasy. This cinema is not only non-traditional, but conveys a sociohistorical content.

Without Kluge a new German cinema would be scarcely conceivable, since creative inspiration needs to be supported by a strong filmpolitical foundation. It is thanks to him, above all, that film was officially promoted in the Federal Republic, and that film in Germany has been taken seriously in the last two decades. An untiring fighter for the interests of his colleagues, Kluge gets involved whenever the fate of the new German cinema is at stake.

Since the late 1980s, Kluge has become involved in the production of alternative programming for German television. Like the overtly political aims of his filmmaking, Kluge hopes that his efforts in the television industry will help to assemble and sustain a public sphere where open critical discourse concerning German and European politics may occur. Kluge, by means of his "Development Company for Television Producers," has been instrumental in arranging for magazines such as Der Spiegel and Stern to purchase air time on German commercial television in order for each of them to produce and broadcast independent news programs. It is Kluge's hope that "the complete editorial independence" of these productions will "offer diversity" on television, a medium that typically seeks, in formal and thematic ways, to deny the existence of a heterogeneous viewing audience. In a 1988 interview Kluge remarked: "You only need one percent of alternative television, of calmness within the television set. If you have it, people will accept that this TV world isn't the only one."

In addition to his efforts in television, in 1993 Kluge co-authored another book with Oskar Negt, Public Sphere and Experience: Toward an Analysis of the Bourgeois Public and Proletarian Public Sphere (1993), in which he continues his interrogations of late-twentieth-century culture. Indeed, the proliferation of articles, books, and dissertations examining Kluge's artistic and theoretical contributions continue to suggest his impact on several cultural fronts. Whether on the screen or the page, the accomplishments of Alexander Kluge continue to distinguish him as a figure sincerely committed to social and political change.

—Maria Racheva, updated by Kevin J. Costa



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