EIKA KATAPPA (director/writer: Werner Schroeter; cinematographers: Robert van Ackeren/Werner Schroeter; editor: Werner Schroeter; music: Guiseppe Verdi/Richard Wagner; cast: Gisela Trowe (Lady of the Camellias), Carla Egerer, Rosemarie Heinikel, Alix Buchen, Magdalena Montezuma (The Leading Diva, The Queen of Metamorphosis); Runtime: 124; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Werner Schroeter; Filmmuseum/PAL format; 1969-West Germany-in German)
“The unusual film won the best prize for most original picture, the Joseph von Sternberg Award, at the 1969 Mannheim Film Festival.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
German underground director Werner Schroeter (“Salome”/”Day of the Idiots”/”Malina”), a Fassbinder comrade, in his first long film helmed, directs an experimental comedy about performers lip-syncing to various excerpts of classical operas (even a rock score), illustrating different approaches to love, suffering and death. The unusual film won the best prize for most original picture, the Joseph von Sternberg Award, at the 1969 Mannheim Film Festival. My enjoyment was limited since I’m not an opera lover and couldn’t identify all the operas depicted, nevertheless I was impressed with the music and passion of the presentation and the worthy theme of “life is precious.”
The music performed includes mostly Verdi arias and ensembles and also those of Wagner, Bellini, Ambroise Thomas, Puccini and of Beethoven’s Fidelio. Other music is lifted from Penderecki and Richard Strauss. There’s also the familiar Johann Strauss’ Blue Danube, a tango, and performers such as Maria Callas (on record), Caterina Valente, and a fake Elvis Presley.
The film’s mysterious title (translated as Scattered Images) refers to this work as a collage of musical works. It handsomely covers the myth of the Nibelungen, the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, La Traviata, Rigoletto and many theater and film noir moments. It’s a work of passionate art, filmed in the natural settings of Heidelberg, Rome and Naples, and meant as a liberating experience. It’s a film meant only for the chosen few lovers of radical experimental film.
REVIEWED ON 4/1/2014 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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