Monday, January 20, 2014

Berlin and Beyond Film Festival - Commentary by Ana Elsner

Berlin & Beyond, the annual German Film Festival sponsored by Goethe-Institut, presented an impressive array of recent film productions from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Particularly noteworthy were the epic Ludwig II, directed by the late Peter Sehr, Two Lives, Germany's 2014 Oscar entry by Georg Maas, and Measuring the World (Die Vermessung der Welt), based on Daniel Kehlmann's 2005 bestseller.

After having read the book Die Vermessung der Welt and subsequently having watched the film, bibliophile Ana Elsner made these observations:

"The novel is a well crafted and highly imaginative amalgam of fact and fiction, written with a beguiling wit. Kehlmann calls his process "the inventing of truth". - In this semi-historical expose the author puts his own spin on chronicling and contrasting the lives of two brilliant and eccentric 19th-century German scientists, the naturalist and geographer Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) and the mathematician and astronomer Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855), with a focus on how their life paths diverged in their individual approaches to the challenge of measuring the world.
As is rarely the case, the author of the book, Daniel Kehlmann, was also the screenwriter, resulting in the closest adherence of the cinematic version to the original dramatic tension and overall tenor of his book.
The cinematograph by Slavomir Idziak is beautifully executed and serves to effectively underline the narrative."


Among the Festival guests were composer Vincent Russo and international poet Ana Elsner.
"Screenwriting and writing poetry are all about generating pictures that play either in front of your eyes or in the mind's eye. These pictures can be brought to life through cinematography as well as through our own visualization of the imagery expressed in the spoken and the written word.
Whether received via one's optical nerve, or perceived by one's imagination, rich and vivid imagery is perhaps the most impactful of all communication and stirs us the most,"
said Ana Elsner in a conversation following the screening of Daniel Kehlmann's 'Die Vermessung der Welt'.
Vincent Russo, a friend of the poet, added: "Music also can convey powerful images just as film and poetry do. In my compositions I paint pictures using the tools of instrumentation and orchestration."
Ana Elsner summarized her appreciation of the Festival program,
"My compliments to Goethe-Institut, especially to Sophoan Sorn, Sabine Erlenwein and Jale Yoldas, on enriching the American cultural community by showcasing a panoply of outstanding films from the German speaking world at the 2014 Berlin & Beyond Film Festival.
My personal highlight was the opportunity to watch the film version of Daniel Kehlmann's 'Die Vermessung der Welt' ('Measuring the World'), a most successful adaptation of the original novel."

~ Go beyond Berlin:
* Click here to go beyond Berlin and
visit bilingual poet Ana Elsner on the web *
Other Links
^ Review
^ Vincent Russo
^ Ana Elsner
^ Goethe-Institut


Mark said...

I can appreciate the point made by the poet Ana Elsner that the written word activates the imagination. I think our minds automatically translate text into images, based on our individual and subjective interpretation. When I saw the screening of Measuring the World at the Berlin & Beyond festival, after first having read Daniel Kehlmann's book, a lot of the scenes seemed alien to me because I had imagined them quite differently. But my girlfriend, who had not read the book, took the film at face value and could not understand what 'my problem' was. I guess that proves the point....

Heather C. said...

Friends of mine had an extra ticket and dragged me to the Berlin & Beyond festival for the late night show 'Measuring the World'. I fully expected to get bored 'cause I am not into this historical foreign-language stuff. But after about 10 minutes of watching I started getting into it. - The movie actually has plenty of action, excitement and humor in it and it was filmed at various exotic locations with some awesome cinematography. The 3D format also helped and the subtitles weren't as annoying and hard to read as they sometimes are. Can't really say anything bad about this flick and would even recommend it, but I doubt that it has any US distribution. Maybe it's available on DVD somewhere. Meanwhile, I am seriously considering reading the book, which is available in English translation (I checked on Amazon). - Thanks for posting on this, so I could add my two cents' worth :)

Jürgen said...

Das Angebot war sehr reichhaltig, doch unter den insgesamt 23 Filmen im Berlin & Beyond Programm war Measuring the World, wenn ich mich nicht irre, die einzige Buchverfilmung. Ich hatte Kehlmanns Roman bereits gelesen, und stimme Ana zu, dass die Filmversion dem Buch durchaus gerecht wird.
Aber man malt sich beim Lesen die Gestaltung der Personen und Schauplätze oft ganz anders aus, als sie auf der Leinwand dargestellt ist. Bücher lassen der Fantasie des Lesers freien Lauf. Die Filmversion ist eben immer nur das, eine einzelne Version, d.h. eine ganz bestimmte und begrenzte optische Auslegung des Originals, die nur selten mit unser eigenen bildlichen Vorstellung übereinstimmt, und uns daher eher befremdlich vorkommen kann. Das passiert normalerweise immer dann, wenn man vorher schon mal das Buch gelesen hat. Um ganz unbefangen und neutral an den Film ranzugehen, sollte man das Buch vielleicht erst hinterher oder gar nicht lessen.

Poetry Journal said...

'Book versus Film' is a controversial matter. - Thank you for expressing your views on this subject.