Before Werner Herzog or Rainer Werner Fassbinder there was Alexander Kluge. One of the first auteurs of the New German Cinema, Kluge was a guiding light for a generation of filmmakers intent on challenging post-war Germany’s “Papa’s Cinema” in the name of rebellion, critique and confrontation with the nation’s traumatic past and tumultuous present. Kluge began his career as a novelist and lawyer, but following the advice of philosopher and critic Theodor Adorno soon started working in the film industry, acting as an assistant for Fritz Lang during the legendary director’s return to German filmmaking. Signing the landmark Oberhausen Manifesto in 1962, Kluge joined his filmmaking peers in support of short films and features capable of critically educating viewers in a politicized era marked by Cold War politics, student rebellion and intergenerational conflict. Starting in the mid-sixties Kluge would make a string of thoughtful masterpieces vitally linked to his times as well as to his parallel career as an author and philosopher, with groundbreaking works on the importance of art forms like cinema for producing new public spheres.
The series is sponsored by the Institute for German Cultural Studies and the Dept. of German Studies, and is being offered in conjunction with Professor Leslie Adelson’s German Studies graduate seminar on Kluge as a literary author. The screenings are offered for free and will be introduced by Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow Erik Born (Society for the Humanities).