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ALEXANDER KLUGE

Germany

Born: Halberstadt, Germany, 14 February 1932.


A practicing lawyer and a published novelist and political writer, he entered German films in 1958 as an assistant to Fritz Lang. He began making shorts in 1960 and in 1962 became a leading spokesman for a group of young German filmmakers protesting at the Oberhausen Festival the stagnant state of the traditional German cinema. He turned out his first feature, Abschied von Gestern / Yesterday Girl in 1966. He adapted the screenplay from his own story, based on a real character about the unhappy ordeals of a young Jewish fugitive from East Germany (brilliantly played by Kluge's sister, Alexandra [née Karen]), who seeks a new life in the Federal Republic but encounters apathy and misery on her pitiable odyssey in the prosperous West. The film, which boasted unconventional stylistic devices, including direct speech to the camera, accelerated motion, and surrealistic scenes, was a watershed production in the development of the New German Cinema. It won several awards at Venice, including a Special Jury Prize (Silver Lion), giving the German film industry its first international recognition in years. With his subsequent films, Kluge further established himself as a guiding spirit and eminent voice of the new German Cinema. Paying him a disciple's homage, Rainer Werner Fassbinder dedicated his Lola (1981) to Kluge. A capable craftsman as well as a creative, intelligent artist, Kluge views filmmaking as an extension of his own writing and pursues on celluloid the same social and political concerns that he does in print. His protagonists are frequently women (often portrayed by his sister, Alexandra), through whose tribulations he reflects on the human condition in contemporary society. His films are often ponderous and complex in style. He invariably writes his own scripts. He won the Golden Lion at Venice in 1968 for Artists at the Top of the Big Top: Disoriented, and the International Critics Prize at Cannes in 1976 for Strongman Ferdinand and at Venice in 1983 for The Power of Emotion.

— Ephraim Katz, The Film Encyclopedia



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