Howard Hawks (1896–1977) is one of classical Hollywood cinema's great directors. He is regarded as the consummate Hollywood professional, creating narratively and directorially accomplished entertainment full of fast-paced thrills, humor and tension. His oeuvre spans the period from 1926 to 1970 and takes in nearly all the genres of the time: comedies, westerns, musicals as well as war, adventure and gangster films. Until the end of January, we will be showing a 20 film retrospective that presents famous classics alongside some less well-known discoveries.
After studying engineering and architecture, Hawks started out in the film industry as a props assessment, going on to rise through the ranks in almost textbook fashion to become one of Hollywood's most successful filmmakers in the space of just a few years. Nearly all of Hawks' films were commercial successes, a fact that allowed him to work more freely and independently within the studio system than almost any other Hollywood director, even at the beginning of the sound film era at the start of the 30s. Hawks produced most of his films himself, was nearly always involved in writing their scripts (usually uncredited), and only signed contracts on a film-to-film basis without ever tying himself to one of the studios. While the straightforward nature and sheer efficiency of his narrations were immediately acclaimed by audiences, film critics only began to honor Hawks' class following his "discovery" as an auteur by Cahiers du cinéma in the 50s. The narrative understatement of "craftsman" Hawks, the unobtrusiveness of his visual style, and the great simplicity attached to his camerawork – the camera at eyelevel, with camera movements only permitted when required by the narrative – are now recognized as comprising Hawks' unique stance, which was the result of an "ethic of efficiency and production" (Tavernier/Coursodon). This stance also left its mark on his chosen material and their aesthetic. The adventure films are often about the things that Hawks, himself a pilot, racing driver, fisherman and passionate hunter, knew and loved. Hawks draws sparingly on action to this end, with it never becoming a means to itself in his work, but rather serving to characterize the figures involved. Hawks prefers to either tell stories about men, primarily hardened professionals working in small groups, or confident women who serve as a suitable foil. They are complex stories about human triumphs and weaknesses, notable for their deeply humane worldview; films with wit, drive and tempo in which there is no place for sadness or sentimentality. Hawks shows a world of agency, friendship and solidarity and of fighting and control, in which humanity has not yet given up on a dignified life without alienation despite the justified skepticism brought about by fate.
We are continuing the film and lecture series which started in November with three evenings on December 6, 13 and 20 this month. Since reality is increasingly perceived from a critical art perspective as an unknown quantity which must be established independently of aesthetic means and elevated to the level of visibility and audibility, the series thus presents and discusses advanced works of film art with respect to the research procedures they employ. The program was initiated by Prof. Michaela Ott (HfbK Hamburg) and Prof. Dieter Mersch (Universität Potsdam/ZHdK Zürich) and will involve the participants of the DFG graduate course "Visibility and Visual Production: Hybrid Forms of Iconic Knowledge". It presents research on as broad a possible range of experimental films, documentaries and features. The series runs until January.
This time, the public screening of a film from the Arsenal archive is being organized by the DFG graduate school “Visibility and Visual Production: Hybrid Forms of Iconic Knowledge.” In the rarely screened film EROSU + GYAKUSATSU (Eros + Massacre, Yoshishige Yoshida, Japan 1969), Japanese anarchism in the ’20s meets the student life of the late ’60s. The central focus is the love relationships of the anarchist Ōsugi Sakae, who was assassinated by the military, with three women, each of whom has a different claim over what Ōsugi stood for. This in turn also interests two students who have been influenced by Ōsugi’s ideas about life, for example looking into what the politics of free love is all about.
Juventude em Marcha Colossal Youth
Pedro Costa Portugal/France/Switzerland 2006
35 mm OV/EnS 155 min
The Searchers John Ford
USA 1956 With John Wayne, Vera Miles, Natalie Wood
35 mm OV 119 min