Saturday, May 7, 2011

Berlin Alexanderplatz

(1931, Ger, 90min, b/w)
d Phil Jutzi p Arnold Pressburger sc Alfred Döblin, Karl Heinz Martin, Hans Wilhelm ph Nicolas Farkas, Erich Giese ed Geza Pollatschik m Allan Gray cast Heinrich George, Maria Bard, Margarete Schlegel, Bernhard Minetti, Gerhard Beinert, Albert Florath, Paul Westermeier, Oscar Höcker

Not without charm, but a self-defeatingly brief dash through Döblin’s book, notable mainly for the author’s involvement in the screenplay, extracting the slender narrative elements from a novel in which the story is purposely unimportant. It starts off like a 20s city-film with Franz Biberkopf (a too-appealing Heinrich George) riding a tram fresh out of jail, unaccustomed and queasy at the pace of modern life all around him. Unfortunately, apart from a handful of fascinating semi-documentary cutaways in and around the Alexanderplatz, and a glimpse of 1930’s German holidaymakers at the seaside, the film eschews anthropology and any effort to appropriate the novel’s collage style, broaching in only the most superficial ways the sociological problems facing an ex-con starting his life over again without fully understanding how (or if) he fits into the modern world into which he has been reborn.

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