Kluge in the Beginning [4 Discs] [DVD]

This set includes shorts and features directed by Alexander Kluge, one of the pivotal figures in the movement known as New German Cinema that also included Fassbinder and Wim Wenders. Among the selection included here are Part-Time Work for a Domestic Slave, Artists Under the Big Top, The Big Mess, and Willi Tobler and the Decline of the 6th Fleet.
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Special Features

  • "Artists Under the Big Top: Perplexed":
  • The Idomitable Leni Peickert, follow-up short by Kluge
  • Execution of an elephant, a short by Kluge
  • "The Big Mess":
  • Engine Caugh, a short film by Alexander Kluge
  • "Willi Tobler and the Decline of the 6th Fleet":
  • The Day Is Night, short film
  • Space Flight as an internal experience, short film
  • "Part-Time Work of a Domestic Slave": Teachers in transformation, a short film by Alexander Kluge


Willi Tobler und der Untergang der 6. Flotte
One of the most critically respected but elusive directors in New German Cinema, Alexander Kluge, helmed this unusual science fiction tale, shot on a deliberately low budget and stylistically intended to evoke the cinema of Georges Méliès. It takes place at some unspecified point in the future, amid an interstellar conflict known as the 'Galactic Citizens' War.' The main character, Willi Tobler (Alfred Edel), loses his grip after his sector gets bombarded, and in a fit of panic, decides to divest himself of all possessions and abandon his family. In a radical attempt to start a new life, Willi volunteers for a position as Chief Admiral of the 6th Fleet, though his new life fails to provide the security he so desires. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi

Die Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel: Ratlos
This film combines both black-and-white and color photography to tell the story of a circus beset with financial woes. Leni (Hannelore Hoger), the director of a circus, has just lost her father in a trapeze accident. She tries to keep the circus out of debt and vows to continue the performances under the big top. Helped by a small and unexpected inheritance, Leni has high hopes of keeping the circus operating. She must decide if her dedication to the show is realistic or merely wishful thinking. Curt Jurgens appears as the animal trainer Mackensen in this symbolic but slow-moving feature. The film took the Gold Lion award at the 1968 Venice Film Festival. ~ Dan Pavlides, Rovi

Gelegenheitsarbeit Einer Sklavin
Acclaimed German New Wave director Alexander Kluge helmed this groundbreaking feminist drama starring his sister Alexandra, which later became the filmmaker's best-known work. She plays Rosewitha Bronski, a mother and housewife-cum-factory worker, who moonlights as an abortionist. Her world is a veritable maelstrom of chaos, marked by screaming children; an obnoxious, demanding, ne'er-do-well husband; and tumult at a factory caught up in the throes of corporate relocation. Meanwhile, at the abortion clinic, doctors have begun refusing to pay referral fees, which puts Rosewitha in an extraordinarily challenging position. Kluge's innovation relies in handling this emotionally-charged material in a cool, detached and matter-of-fact style that interpolates extensive voiceover to critique and reflect on the central character's life-choices and attitudes. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi

Der Grosse Verhau
Just as rapacious seacoast villagers with no other source of income used to lure ships onto the rocks in order to salvage them or steal their cargo, so do the two spacemen in this film seek to wreck spaceships in Earth's orbit to benefit from an elaborate insurance scam. Meanwhile, back on the planet, the rich and poor nations are locked in battle. This German political comedy with science fiction overtones is based on The Monopole Capitalism, by Baran and Sweezy. ~ Clarke Fountain, Rovi

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