Thomas has asked me to "write down my experiences from the week" for the
website ... but I am not the right person to do so, really. Due to my poor
German I failed to understand enough of the talks and discussions, either on the
stage of the cinema or at the "Symposium" in the Maison Francaise, to give an
accurate account of them, and my usual stupid neurosis in social situations must
often have made my attempts to talk to people individually pretty embarrassing
I can only say that this chance of seeing those great films on the big screen for which they were designed was worth every moment of the journey and the week. The immediacy of one's involvement, and the richness of colour and light, movement and sense of space were enhanced throughout in Die Reise nach Wien and Cardillac, and in the plane flights in Baumwolle, or the large, complex historical scenes of Der Schneider von Ulm. The flying scenes in the latter film were also even more moving and impressive than when seen on the DVD. But the greatest impact (as compared with the DVDs) was that of Geschwindigkeit, shown on a huge wide screen, and overwhelmingly powerful.
As far as I could understand the German, there were particularly interesting introductions to the films from Professor Thomas Koebner and Professor Bernd Kiefer, and it was frustrating not to be able to follow very much of the discussion at the "Symposium" (where the amplified sound seemed to echo slightly), apart from some sections of those from Professor Koebner and Edgar Reitz himself, whose voices are already familiar from the DVDs. But the short film about the restoration of the Fruehwerk was beautifully shot and presented, and very interesting indeed, though disturbing in its implications for the preservation of classic films.
The sadness of the week was that after the great welcome to the Director and the films on the opening Sunday evening, very many people apparently had to return home for work on the Monday, so that the weekday audiences were disappointingly small. Given the fact that several of the remaining films (such as Cardillac, Stunde Null and Geschwindigkeit) are masterpieces, this was a heart-breaking situation. All those unable to stay in Mainz for the week must be strongly hoping that there will one day be a further opportunity to see them in the cinema.
Otherwise, it was a great experience and privilege to have been able to watch all those performances, and at the end everyone expressed their gratitude to Edgar Reitz and the Stiftung Rheinland-Pfalz fuer Kultur, sponsors of the restoration, the DVD edition, and this magnificent Premiere in Mainz.
Angela Skrimshire, 29 September, 2009