ponedjeljak, 3. rujna 2012.

Ulrike Ottinger - Ivana Orleanska od Mongolije


Ikona njemačke lezbijske kontrakulture - slikarica, autorica filmova i eksperimentalnih dokumentaraca. Poput nomada gradi kotrljajujući muzej neobičnih aspekata suvremenog svijeta, miksajući performanse nalik hepeninzima,
napadan dizajn, camp, duh njemačkog punka '70/'80-ih, lezbijski chic i udarce šakom queer kulture.

Ulrike Ottinger: Floating Food (ethnologic art exhibition in Berlin): Vimeo

Johanna d'Arc of Mongolia (1989)

Ulrike Ottinger's epic adventure traces a fantastic encounter between two different worlds. Seven western women travelers meet aboard the sumptuous, meticulously reconstructed Trans-Siberian Express, a rolling museum of European culture. Lady Windemere, an elegant ethnographer played by the incomparable Delphine Seyrig in her last screen role, regales a young companion with Mongol myths and lore while other passengers-a prim tourist (Irm Hermann), a brash Broadway chanteuse and an all-girl klezmer trio-revel in campy dining car cabaret. Suddenly ambushed by a band of Mongol horsewomen, the company is abducted to the plains of Inner Mongolia and embark on a fantastic camel ride across the magnificent countryside. Breathtaking vistas, the lavish costumes of Princess Ulun Iga and her retinue, and the rituals of Mongol life are stunningly rendered by Ottinger's cinematography. Dubbed a female Lawrence of Arabia and just as sweepingly romantic, JOHANNA D'ARC OF MONGOLIA is a grandly entertaining, unforgettable journey.

Madame X: An Absolute Ruler (1977)

"Ulrike Ottinger has a larger body of work than almost any other lesbian filmmaker, and her rarely seen first feature contains most of the elements that make her work so unique and ahead of its time. In this extravagantly aestheticized, postmodern pirate film she appropriates the male genre for feminist allegory. Madame X — the cruel, uncrowned ruler of the China seas — promises "gold, love, and adventure" to all women who'll leave their humdrum lives behind. Gathered aboard her ship, Orlando, are a range of types: a frumpy housewife, a glamorous diva, a psychologist, a very German outdoorswoman, a bush pilot, an artist (played by Yvonne Rainer), and a "native" beauty. Their utopia devolves into betrayal and self-destruction—leading to eventual transformation—as the power games of the outside world are ritualized among the women. Tabea Blumenschein, who designed the film's outrageous costumes, appears in a dual role as the pirate queen and the ship's lovely, leather clad figurehead. Refusing conventional storytelling and realism for a rich, non-synchronous soundtrack, the film invites its audience along for an unprecedented journey that celebrates the marginal." — Patricia White

Ticket of No Return (1979)

A portrait of two unusual but also extremely different women. One rich, eccentric, hiding her feelings behind a rigid mask, consciously drinks herself to death. The other is a known drinker in town. In the course of the story they try to get to know each other, but they cannot come together. The background is Berlin, thrown open to a grotesque kind of sightseeing (drinkers’ geography) and complemented by authentic contributions from people who live here or are visiting, rock singers, writers, artist, taxi drivers. With Tabea Blumenschein, Magdalena Montezuma, Nina Hagen and Eddie Constantine.

In 1966 she wrote her first screenplay, entitled Die Mongolische Doppelschublade.
Ottinger returned to West Germany in 1969 and, in cooperation with the Film Seminar at the University of Konstanz, founded the film club "Visuell", which she directed until 1972. She also headed a gallery and the associated "galeriepress”, where they edited works by contemporary artists.
During this time she met Tabea Blumenschein and Magdalena Montezuma, both of whom have been cast as lead actresses in her films since 1972. Ottinger developed her own bizarre surrealist film-style, which among other things, was marked by widespread abandonment of a linear plot and instead linger long in individual scenes, which in turn make überstarke and extravagant costumes of the imagination mostly female cast artfully to own collages were designed.
She directed and did stage design for Elfriede Jelinek's Clara S. at the Württembergisches Staatstheater in Stuttgart in 1983, and did the same for Jelinek's Begierde und Fahrerlaubnis in Graz in 1986.[2] In 1989, her film Joan of Arc of Mongolia was entered into the 39th Berlin International Film Festival.[3]
In 2003, Ottinger was selected for a solo exhibition at the Renaissance Society. Titled South East Passage, the work "is in three chapters - a travelogue of the artist's journey from southeast Poland to the Bulgarian shores of the Black Sea and a portrait of two coastal cities, Odessa and Istanbul". South East Passage was the first of a two-part series of exhibits exploring Eastern European video work.[4]
On the occasion of the 2009 New York premiere of The Korean Wedding Chest, with Ottinger to be in attendance, The New York Times characterized the director as, "[d]uring the 1980s heyday of the New German Cinema, having constituted a one-woman avant-garde opposition to the sulky male melodramas of Wenders, Fassbinder and Herzog, her films being long, discursive and wildly inventive."[5]
Ottinger’s films, with their preference for the Far Eastern formal language is visible, turned in the following decades, some unconventional documentaries about life in various Asian regions. Ottinger directed the upcoming Horror-Drama film Die Blutgräfin,[6] which based on the life of Elisabeth Bathory.[7]

2011 – Under Snow
2009 – The Korean Wedding Chest
2007 – Prater
2004 – Zwölf Stühle (Twelve Chairs)
2002 – Südostpassage (Southeast Passage)
1997 – Exil Shanghai (Exile Shanghai)
1992 – Taiga
1990 – Countdown
1989 – Johanna D'Arc of Mongolia (Joan of Arc of Mongolia)
1986 – Sieben Frauen – Sieben Todsünden (Seven Women, Seven Sins)
1986 – China. Die Künste – der Alltag (China. The Arts – the People)
1984 – Dorian Gray im Spiegel der Boulevardpresse (Dorian Gray in the Mirror of the Yellow Press)
1981 – Freak Orlando

1979 – Bildnis Einer Trinkerin-Aller Jamais Retour (Ticket of No Return)
1978 – Madame X – Eine absolute Herrscherin (Madame X: An Absolute Ruler)
1975 – Die Betörung der blauen Matrosen (The Enchantment of the Blue Sailors)
1975 – Laokoon & Söhne (Laokoon & Sons)
1973 – Berlinfieber – Wolf Vostell (Berlinfever – Wolf Vostell)



27th Modern Art Days Bialystok Poland

Ulrike Ottinger – Nomad From the Lake
Dir/scr: Brigitte Kramer. Germany 2012. 86mins

A film-maker, artist and icon of German lesbian counterculture is the subject of something that’s less profile than fan letter verging on hagiography, in Brigitte Kramer’s Ulrike Ottinger – Nomad From the Lake (Ulrike Ottinger – Die Nomadin vom See) . The documentary is very much an inside job by an admirer who’s not only worked herself with Ottinger, but admits from the off that discovering the film-maker changed her life.

Liberally illustrated with clips from Ottinger’s outré and elaborate work, the film will either prove a tantalising introduction or a turn-off for non-initiates, but Kramer largely fails to illuminate Ottinger’s importance either historically, artistically or culturally. The film feels like a lost opportunity to contextualise a complex and flamboyantly talented artist who, it’s clear, has generated her own imaginative world; outside lesbian and gay festivals, the film is unlikely to resonate as a more detached portrait might have done.
Ottinger herself, seen today lazing and sometimes sailing on her native Lake Constance, is an affable if not always very expressive figure, reminiscing about her youth, her introduction to Berlin’s art underground in the early 70s, and her shift from painting to film-making. In recent years, in fact, she has been more active on the art front, and the film’s latter sections show her preparing a major Berlin installation that showcases her magpie characteristics: a committed traveller, Ottinger has made films in China, Korea and Mongolia, while recent work borrows from the imagery of Japan and Mexico.
There’s an intriguing clip from Ottinger’s first film of the early 70s, the experimental black-and-white Laocoon and Sons, along with much from the highly-coloured, wildly imaginative work that began later in the decade. Scoring a huge hit in Germany with the controversial Madame X – An Absolute Ruler (1978), Ottinger made her name with films that occupy a parallel artistic universe to, say, Fellini, Ken Russell, Derek Jarman and early Almodóvar – mixing ‘happening’-like performance, flamboyant design, camp humour and the spirit of 70s-80s German punk, along with potent streaks of lesbian chic and in-your-face queer culture.
Works such as 1981’s Freak Orlando and Dorian Gray in the Mirror of the Yellow Press (1984) led up to Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia (1988), a mammoth undertaking that Ottinger actually shot in Mongolia: actress Irm Hermann offers the documentary’s most enlightening talking-head material, cheerfully recalling hair-raising adventures on that shoot.
Kramer’s very personal documentary, with its first-person voice-over testimony, rather comes across as one for Berlinale diehards, with interviewees including former Forum director Ulrich Gregor – offering key insights into Ottinger’s theatricality – and Panorama head and all-round Berlinale face Wieland Speck reminiscing about acting naked for the director. Other contributors include some academic admirers, cogitating earnestly, and gallerist-collector Ingwild Goetz, who hits the nail on the head when she talks of Ottinger as an influence on today’s leading art-world weirdmeister Matthew Barney.
But the film offers a very partial picture – more on Ottinger’s role in the early 1970s Berlin art world would have been illuminating, and there’s frustratingly little information about actress Tabea Blumenschein, Ottinger’s one-time muse. Initiates, especially Ottinger’s faithful Berlin public, will lap it all up, but otherwise Kramer’s film, functional in execution, is more tease than revelation. - Jonathan Romney

Admittedly, pirates have never really floated my boat and I certainly cannot think of films as extravagantly aesthetically repellant as the Pirates of the Caribbean series and Spielberg’s quasi-pederastic work Hook (1991) for such works could only appeal to small children and buggering butt-pirates. Needless to say, Johnny Depp as proto-hippie slime-bag Captain Jack Sparrow makes for a rather pathetic pirate Lord of the Seven Seas and Dustin Hoffman makes for an even worse pirate than he does as a drag queen à la Tootsie (1982). That being said, I never would have thought that my favorite seafaring freebooter flick would inevitably turnout to be that of the campy fantasy lesbian sort, but then again I would have never expected anything of the sort to exist in the first place. Co-directed by aberrant Aryanness auteur Ulrike Ottinger (Freak Orlando, Taiga) and her then-girlfriend Tabea Blumenschein (Zagarbata) – the statuesque stoic Sapphic punk goddess that would play an imperative part in the creation of her ladylove’s most prolific works, including the cross-genre arthouse epics Ticket of No Return (1979) and Dorian Gray in the Mirror of the Yellow Press (1984) – Madame X – Eine absolute Herrscherin (1978) aka Madame X: An Absolute Ruler is not only one of the most ideally and intensely idiosyncratic buccaneer flicks ever made, but it is also the lesbian answer to the male action-fantasy film, albeit of a more absurdist, avant-garde persuasion. Unlike your typical lesbian/feminist film whatever genre of subgenre it may be in, Madame X: An Absolute Ruler is not a pirate-themed pity party of the decisively slave-morality-driven dreadful and regretful sort, but a wonderfully wayward wild woman wonder where the will to power and pleasure is the guiding philosophy. Lacking in petty sentimentalism, cliché political messages, and glorification of the weak and meek but instead the criminally rich and aesthetically wondrous, Madame X: An Absolute Ruler is a delightfully deranging Dionysian comedy of sorts that makes for the next best thing to a full-fledged lesbian fantasy fascism flick. Suffice to say, Madame X: An Absolute Ruler does for female swashbuckling filibusters what Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising (1964) did for motorcycle and fetishistically fascistic leather-fags.

During the beginning of Madame X: An Absolute Ruler, a number of diverse but equally unsatisfied women receive hidden telegraphic messages in everything from newspapers to a box of Brillo pads (steel wool scouring pads used for cleaning dishes) to the pocket of an institutionalized mental patient suffering from ‘disturbed narcissistic personality’ offering the lonely ladies the following: To all women – stop – offer world – stop – full of gold – stop – love – stop – adventure – stop – at sea – stop – call Chinese Orlando – stop! The characters include everything from bored, sexually-repressed housewives to overly-intellectualized psychiatrists with physical appearances as diversified as raving beauties to gawky dyke pilots with bad haircuts, but they are united by their overwhelming dissatisfaction with their lives and professional/gender roles. To join the beauteous yet barbaric Madame X (Tabea Blumenschein) on her dilapidated ship Chinese Orlando, they must sacrifice their previous lives which none of them think twice about doing, but none of them are prepared for enduring the dictatorship of the determinedly dick-less where totalitarian tough love and topless tits reign supreme. Upon first joining Madame X on the ship as corsair crewmembers, the conspicuously cute but callous captain – using the help of a vocal and automatic figurehead, an exact replica of Madame X (also played by Blumenschein), assembled with the utmost care by a Numidian and witch doctor of great talent – displays her “absolute authority and power” via her doppelganger at the prow of the ship reciting: “Gold. Love. Adventure.” Indeed, Madame X – a muted and multipotent miss of the most magnificent mystique, and material and metaphysical magnetism – makes good on her three promises, but not without a little bit of slapstick and swashbuckling misery, heartbreak, and murder thrown in for good measure. In a backstory early on in the film, it is revealed that Madame X initially decided to give “her soul to the devil and Satanic sea arts” after her prized beauty Orlando was killed after being engulfed in the toxic tentacles of a rare and deadly jellyfish, which subsequently resulted in the loss of the Captain’s right-hand, hence her prosthetic bladed-hand. Miss X eventually became the cruelest pirate Führer of the Far Eastern sea, thus he has to be most stern and even unfair with his new novice buccaneers. Naturally, Madame X is extra hard on a flaming faggot fairy who joins the crew as a groveling man-maid after they find him floating in the sea by his lonesome, but at least he has the opportunity to admire the charming yet sometimes cantankerous Captain’s nude body, including her erotic blonde bosom hair. As far as obtaining glorious gold is concerned, Madame X and her eclectic collection of underlings happen upon a boat full of booty-full, banal, bourgeois types (one of which is played by Peggy von Schnottgenberg aka Frank Ripploh; director of Taxi zum Klo) whom they glamour and titillate – the sort of people that incessantly and robotically repeat small talk clichés like “well, how about that?” and “What do ya know?” – and subsequently ransack at night and execute in a most Fellini-esque fashion. Naturally, Madame X: An Absolute Ruler – probably the only film where someone rides the plank in a wheelchair – is not your slap-happy alcoholic grandpappy's sort of pirate film.

As the Chinese Orlando’s in-boat psychiatrist states in a most tongue-in-cheek manner: “The age-old oppression of woman which had consolidated the habits of passivity and dependence in their character structure, made them docile tools in the hands of Madame X, a charismatic personality eaten up with narcissism and whose lust for power grew with the quasi-masochistic submission of the women beyond all bounds.” Of course, whether victims of Madame X’s megalomaniacal majesty or not, breast-flaunting buccaneers of Madame X: An Absolute Ruler certainly have a lovely, if loaded, journey where the charismatic captain’s three promises of gold, love, and adventure are ceremoniously fulfilled. Aside from the gold, Ulrike Ottinger makes good of her character Madame X’s promises as well, which I would have never suspected from a muff-diving auteur, especially of the sometimes socio-politically-charged sort. In fact, I do not think it would be a stretch to say that not only is Ottinger the most demiurgic female German director of the post-WWII era, but also – regardless of sex – the greatest kraut master of postmodern celluloid mythmaking. That being said, it is quite a shame that Ottinger's personal/artistic relationship with Tabea Blumenschein had to end, as I surely regard Madame X: An Absolute Ruler, as well as their collaborations, Ticket of No Return and Dorian Gray in the Mirror of the Yellow Press among my favorite arthouse 'fantasy' flicks, and I am not exactly a fan of Ani DiFranco or Ellen DeGenerate. Indeed, unlike Robin Williams in Hook, not all seamen are starved for sea-salty semen; rather, some are horny, unloved housewives, pompous pussy-licking psychiatrists, and sadomasochistic Orientalists of the bearded clam diving, cunning linguist persuasian. - Soiled Sinema

As much as I would like to deny it, I am fond of Germanic lesbian surrealist flicks, especially of the secretive and semiotic yet borderline psychotic sort, especially those directed by butch blonde Aryanness Ulrike Ottinger (Freak Orlando, Joan of Arc of Mongolia); the daredevil dame director who seems to have better taste in women than her fellow male New Wave kraut compatriots Fassbinder, Herzog, and Volker Schlöndorff, and more an imagination than lady auteur filmmakers Margarethe von Trotta and Monika Treut. Recently, I had the pleasure of viewing Ottinger’s audacious alcoholic arthouse flick Bildnis einer Trinkerin. Aller jamais retour (1979) aka Ticket of No Return, a fashion keen surrealist odyssey about one lovely lady’s lunatic drunken antics as she cruises Berlin-Tegel, Germany in search of booze, boobs, and bodacious bustle while dressed to impress (mostly herself) in immoderately chic new romanticist style. Predating the succulent sci-fi fashion of Slava Tsukerman’s Liquid Sky (1982) and the frantic lesbo lunacy of A. Hans Scheirl’s Dandy Dust (1998), Ticket of No Return is a marvelous cinematic passport with a big aesthetic return if you’re looking to see a highly cultivated form of cinematic degeneracy. Opening with the following narration, Ticket of No Return only gets more incoherent as it develops: “... She, a woman of exquisite beauty, of classical dignity and harmonious Raphaelesque proportions, a woman, created like no other to be Medea, Madonna, Beatrice, Iphigenia, Aspasia, decided one sunny winter day to leave La Rotonda...” Starring Tabea Blumenschein – who previously co-directed Laokoon & Söhne (Laokoon & Sons), Die Betörung der blauen Matrosen (The Enchantment of the Blue Sailors) and Madame X – Eine absolute Herrscherin (Madame X: An Absolute Ruler) with Ottinger and would later star in her work Dorian Gray im Spiegel der Boulevardpresse (Dorian Gray in the Mirror of the Yellow Press) – Ticket of No Return is a work that is more than easy on the eyes due to its beauteous, if often belligerent and balmy, lead actress. Also featuring appearances from such great German New Wave actors as Magdalena Montezuma, Kurt Raab, Volker Spengler, Eddie Constantine, Günter Meisner, Nina Hagen, and Paul Glauer (one of the taller merry midgets from Herzog’s Even Dwarfs Started Small), Ticket of No Return is a film that will interest any serious fan of post-WW2 German cinema, even if you’re not a lesbian or alcoholic.

Seemingly an esoteric artsy fartsy cinematic essay campaigning for the acceptance of debauched alcoholism of the active sightseeing sort, Ticket of No Return is a film that will not only discombobulate most viewers with its heterodox fidelity for booze and lilly-licker hermeticism, but also its unequivocally avant-garde nonlinear structure. Although unmistakably female in appearance and in fashion sense, “She” is a stoic yet smashed street warrior with a proclivity towards older proletarian women, as expressed with her relatively unsuccessful bath and sleepover with a considerably less attractive and seemingly more mature lady. In fact, aside from a monotone chorus trio of statistic and fact spouting ladies in futuristic yet mundane grey flight attendant outfits named “Social Question” (Magdalena Montezuma), “Accurate Statistics” (Orpha Termin), and “Common Sense” (Monika von Cube), “She” never has any sort of steady esprit de corps, but instead merely meanders around like a perennial wandering Jew that is deracinated from all land and all human company. Of course, Ms. She doesn’t exactly need friends as she has no problem finding formidable fun, which includes – aside from her delightful drunken buffoonery – a not-exactly-high-wire balancing act and riding on the hood of a daredevil driver’s stunt into a wall-on-fire. Fitting somewhere in between Federico Fellini’s Amarcord (1973) minus the nostalgia and Werner Herzog’s early realist-surrealist masterpiece Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970) in terms of narrative (or lack thereof) and its ostensibly absurdist aesthetic, yet a work of undeniable idiosyncrasy all of its own, Ticket of No Return is one of those rare works that reminds the viewer that the artistic medium of film is not exactly as limited and played-out as latest American ‘indy’ film would leave us to believe.

Ultimately, I think the strangely delectable she-devil anti-heroess of Ticket of No Return is sort of what Marcello Mastroianni is to Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960) and 8 ½ (1963), as a sort of vivid express of Ulrike Ottinger’s ideal alter-ego; a lady of stunning beauty with an exquisite fashion sense (which the director certainly lacks), but also aloof, venturesome, and wholly autonomous (fitting more in tune with the lady auteur’s predilections, at least as an artist). Of course, she’s ‘inner self’ and butch doppelgänger – a leather-clad man-boy akin to the unsavory fellows featured in Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising (1964) and William Friedkin’s Cruising (1980) – reminds her that despite how beautiful and stylish she is on the outside and no matter how shitfaced she is, an instinctive masculinity consumes her soul. Personally, I cannot think of anything more unappealing in a prospective lover from the fairer sex than an aggressive alcoholic with an acute case of muteness yet with the help of Ottinger’s curious yet calculating direction and the films fashion designer, Tabea Blumenschein is nothing short of seductive as “she,” even if she seems like she might bite. Always climbing to a literal and figurative stairway to some sort intangible heaven of sorts, “she” is inevitably lost in a human storm of metropolitan lunacy and absurdity. Indubitably, a semi-autobiographical cinematic work of the decisively obscured and transcendental sort, not unlike works by fellow queer kraut auteur filmmakers Werner Schroeter (Day of the Idiots, Malina) and Rosa von Praunheim (A Virus Knows no Morals, Anita: Dances of Vice), Ticket of No Return is a one-way ticket to somewhere in between lesbian life-everlasting and limbo in the lower world. - Soiled Sinema

After searching for years in vain for a copy of Ulrike Ottinger’s Freak Orlando (1981) – an apocalyptic cinematic epic of the exceedingly eccentric –  I can happily admit that I secured and viewed a copy of the film, albeit with a positively piss poor VHS transfer (who knows what generation), yet that did not stop me nor my girlfriend from thoroughly luxuriating in what is undeniably one of the most loony, lecherous, and lovely lesbian fantasy films ever made. More freaky than Tod Browning’s Freaks (1932), more campy and obsessively stylized than Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures (1963), more marvelously mystical than Don Chaffey’s adaptation of Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and more carnally carnivalesque than Federico Fellini’s City of Women (1980), Freak Orlando is indubitably one of the most ideally idiosyncratic cinematic works ever made that has no contemporaries, aside from auteur Ulrike Ottinger’s other Sapphic spiritual films (e.g. Madame X: An Absolute Ruler, Dorian Gray in the Mirror of the Yellow Press). Set in the fleeting fantasy world of ‘Freak City’ – a weirdo world of self-flagellating leather fags, bodypaint-covered midget artists, big bearded women, two-headed singers who sing in two-part harmony, and rival Siamese twins, among various other merry yet oftentimes miserable mother nature made miscreations – Freak Orlando is a "small theater of the world" and allegorical history of the world depicted in a marvelous maniac microcosm of the macabre yet magical. Told in five different acts of varying waywardness, the film centers around an innately unconventional protagonist named Freak Orlando aka Mrs. Orlando Mr. Orlando aka Orlando Capricho aka Orlando Orlanda aka Orlando Zyklopa (all played by Werner Schroeter’s muse Magdalena Montezuma), who seems to have more lives than a black magic pussycat. On her wild and delightfully dangerous entrada, Orlando encounters a number of bestial, bloodlusting enemies and futuristic lipstick lezzy lovers, with the outcome of her literally out-of-this-world odysseys being virtually the same: love, loss, and finally enduring the lap of the gods. Featuring a quasi-medieval dystopian setting of the decidedly deformed and daunting sort – not unlike John Waters’ Desperate Living (1977), except with more testosterone and meticulously assembled sets and costumes designs – Freak Orlando is a fiercely phantasmagorical film full of flaky fashion and tumultuous tragedy that reminds one of why people watch fantasy films in the first place.

Created after a series of co-directions with her doily dyke collaborator/lover Tabea Blumenschein (The Enchantment of the Blue Sailors, Ticket of No Return), Freak Orlando is a seemingly more melancholy and misanthropic work than her previous efforts, if stoically and mirthfully so. Although featuring a virtual carnival of undraped bodies, the film is less focused on glorifying the fiery femme fatale beauty than in, for example, Madame X: An Absolute Ruler (1978) where brutish blonde bombshell Tabea Blumenschein plays an integral role. Whereas in Ticket of No Return (1979), the female anti-heroess ‘She’ seems to be a fantasy character composite of both Ottinger and Blumenschein, Orlando of Freak Orlando – as a stalwart alpha-female of uncompromising personal integrity, individuality, and honor – is most certainly Ottinger’s filmic alter-ego. As a feisty and agile anvil-striking Führer of a heptad of dwarf-shoemakers, a two-headed singer of melodies, a fierce freedom fighter against the Spanish Inquisition, a merry but sometimes malevolent man who feels one head is better than two when it comes to bumping heads with Siamese twins, and campy entertainer with a queer quartet of playboy bunnies, Orlando is a renegade renaissance woman with a rugged interior and a oftentimes fetishistic quasi-New Romanticist exterior. Like a wandering Jew hopped up on Ritalin, romance, and fervent freak righteousness, arduously anomalous Orlando attempts to bring oddball order and beauty to a mostly rural city in ruins that – despite its freak-only population – seems to hardly accept her, at least until the conclusion of the film. Her greatest enemies are the ferocious yet faggy flagellants – a curious collective of self-punishing, sadomasochistic, semi-savage leather fags that sport matching black pleather uniforms (aside from one curious fellow in white) – who brutally beat and decapitate Orlando during the first act of Freak Orlando after she refuses to become their leader when the original ‘stylite’ lord (played by Eddie Constantine) falls to his much-desired death. Judging by her portrayal of the flagellants in the film, I think it is quite blatant that Ottinger is an opponent of leather fags everywhere, a group that homo-maniac auteur Rosa von Praunheim described as the male abberosexual group whose, "masculinity is damaged the most” in his documentary It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives (1971). During the second act of Freak Orlando, Orlando Orlanda must save two acrobats from the flaming flagellants and deter their dreams of hatred, which are fueled by male inadequacy; an all-consuming character flaw the Ms. Ottinger seems to be hardly stricken with. In the end, Orlando leaves the city just as she came, admiring a topless lady flower with marvelous mammary glands.

Unfortunately, aside from a minority of unhealthily fanatical cinephiles, Freak Orlando is a film that is more often talked about and dreamed of than actually seen. After what seemed like a lifetime worth of waiting, I finally had the grand opportunity to watch this grandiose occult cinematic exposition and I cannot say I was left wanting.  Considering that Freak Orlando is comprised of five decidedly distinct acts, the film is sometimes 'hit' or 'miss' in what it seeks to achieve in terms of the moral of the story due to its excessive esotericism, but one would be hard-pressed to argue that a single second of the film is anything less than enrapturing and awe-inspiring. Like Federico Fellini’s Satyricon (1969) meets Werner Herzog’s Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970), except with a superlatively Sapphic persuasion, Freak Orlando paints a pulchritudinous, if peculiar, portrait of the history of the world that is about as literal as a soundly asleep paranoid schizophrenic's most sordid and starkest dreams.   A singularly preternatural cinematic escape from the banality of the technocratic, cosmopolitan globalized world featuring a city-sized cabaret of spastic yet spectacular characters, Freak Orlando is a film that deserves a broad fan-base outside of the pompous academic and lesbian underground world. - Soiled Sinema

Kaja Silverman

An Interview with Ulrike Ottinge
Janet A. Kaplan

Web stranica Ulrike Ottinger ovdje

Nema komentara:

Objavi komentar