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ARTISTS UNDER THE BIG TOP: PERPLEXED



 
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Hannelore Hoger (Lost Honor of Katharina Blum) stars as Leni Peickert in Alexander Kluge's compelling parable about art vs. entertainment, culture vs. commerce. Leni inherits the family circus after her father is killed performing a difficult act. Feeling that traditional carnivals are on their way out, she updates the show by turning it into a "reform circus," which consists of socially-relevant entertainment. Unfortunately, it fails to attract customers, and her circus goes bankrupt--twice. The story of Leni and her woes is slight, but the strength of Kluge's film is in the complex imagery, with its masterful montages, filmic references, and layers of meaning. Like the circus in the film, Kluge finds popular German cinema also in the throes of change--a viewpoint that turned out to be prophetic. Winner of the Golden Lion at the 1968 Venice Film Festival. In German with English subtitles.

Alexander Kluge---West Germany---1968---104 mins.