What the film of the 1980s still holds today

Heide Schlüpmann

Giving space. The film to the cinema

In 1970 Karsten Witte provoked with the demand for a theory of the cinema in contrast to that of the film that existed. At that time, Witte was the editor of Siegfried Kracauer's writings, a critic and literary scholar who held the first film seminars in Frankfurt am Main. The provocation implied a moment of practice: support for the cinema movement, which at this time was politically and cinéastically motivated to maintain and renew the cinema. “What happened next in Critique and Science?” Is a first question the book asks itself to recap how and where cinema came to the fore in the 1970s and 1980s, before “the media” adopted film. In the end, the interest turned into a historical one that persists to this day and calls for the theory to "coalition".

Today the digital medium, the "moving image", has found its way into the cinemas and thus evidently levels out its importance for the film. Is it unnecessary? This book takes up the desideratum of a theory of the cinema again (not without practical intention) and concentrates on the space in its historical reality and effect. The cinema space moves into the perspective of the historical process of transformation of the private and public spaces. This, too, is a resumption of discussions from the 1970s. At that time, however, it was about cinema in connection with the "decline" of the bourgeois public: cinema as a mass-cultural, proletarian public, as a counter-public. In contrast to this discussion, the main interest of the book is to see cinema as part of the history of private space. As a counter-movement against the lack, loss, destruction and emptying of a space that not only supported public freedom, but also always stood in connection with life outside of society, natural processes and the "environment".

144 pages, Br

19.00 euros

ISBN 978-3-947238-24-8

Vorwerk 8



At the beginning of the Corona measures, someone publicly asked the question, “What is actually going on here?” 1 In public, this question did not trigger any attempts at understanding or clarification. Instead, conspiracy theories flourished.

One thing is certain, as the same author stated in an interview a good two months later, the speech of the politicians (by Health Minister Spahn), `` Health comes first 100 percent '', is simply outrageous.2 It scorns the environmental movements that have been against them for decades Fight alliance of business and politics in order to achieve only the slightest success in maintaining healthy living conditions.

Today we can only hope that Fridays for Future will recover after the radical crackdown by the assembly ban and emerge stronger from this time - and not only Google, Amazon, Facebook, the big beneficiaries of the "crisis".

At this point I can turn to cinema. I'm afraid of the speed, the willingness with which festivals and cinemas switched to digital presence. Perhaps understandable in the economic struggle for survival, but willy-nilly they are following the trend of the inexorable rise of the digital industry, which, if not one hundred percent harmful to health, is by no means beneficial to health. On the contrary. As is well known, this industry is based on the ruinous exploitation of workers, and anyway on the exploitation of earth's supplies; it entails an unprecedented level of energy consumption. In addition, the progressive digitization of all areas of life harbors a tremendous suppression of the present: the present understood as the physical proximity of people, animals, plants, of a reality that surrounds us, the present in contrast to the past or future worlds. If we are isolated from this context, the health of our body, its life in the end depends solely on the technological progress of medicine and the access to its products; and that in turn from the interests of capital.

Cinema is a place of the present and near: In the dark room we sit in a crowd, close together - which is the Corona devil today. We are to ourselves and yet not alone. But the cinema is also a space in which we can experience proximity and distance. As moviegoers have often brought up: The distance that appears on the screen touches us, we take it in with all our senses and, conversely, our own life is projected onto the play of light in front of our eyes. These are movements of self-awareness at the same time as and in the perception of external reality, movements that require one's own space.

It would be wonderful now to show a cinema program on forms of closeness in their historical and social training; to crossing boundaries, breaking out of moral and legal order. #MetToo may be the discussion of the 80s brought to mind. It was about "sex at work" and women and film wrote provocatively: We are for it. We were against the clean workplaces, in which physical closeness and rapprochement are suspected from the outset, but for a change in the balance of power in offices and factories, in editorial offices and theaters, in film productions. Solidarity is an essential form of intimacy against the access to power and it was emphatically demonstrated by feminist filmmakers in the 1960s and 70s. It cannot be replaced by networking.

The film program will also be about the much-scolded happy ending: it follows a longing for closeness, there is a promise of closeness - how deceptive the secretary's love affair with her boss may be. The tragic endings of many Asta Nielsen films are more realistic in their pathos. The closeness, which cannot be achieved under the prevailing (patriarchal) social conditions, succeeds at the moment of death, in the passionate embrace of the one she murdered or in the deep kiss that she finally realizes at the moment of her death - utopias of uncompromising. The longing for closeness survives: in the audience.

A program about proximity should also be one about the distance: "Absence makes the heart grow stronger" - a thought that the film curators should take to heart. If they show digital "presence" with their programs, they cover up the possibility of feeling what is missing, letting the longing grow and reflecting on what has been lost, at least for the time being. This is the only way to develop broader resistance to the temporary closure of the cinemas. Waiting is still a good thing - in times when we don't know “what's going on?”, Times that bring paralysis and disorientation.

Heide Schlüpmann

1 Dr. Bernd Hontschik in the Frankfurter Rundschau on March 22nd, 2020

2 FR from 6.4.2020