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The Death of Maria Malibran at Ocularis

The Death of Maria Malibran
Werner Schroeter, 1971, 104min.
Sunday, February 13 at 7 pm
Ticket Price $6

In collaboration with the Goethe-Institut New York, Ocularis is proud to present a screening of Werner Schroeter’s Der Tod der Maria Malibran (The Death of Maria Malibran), a criminally undershown hallmark of the German New Wave. Once referred to by Schroeter as his “main work,” this curious melodrama refigures the various myths surrounding the famed mezzo-soprano, resulting in a provocative spectacle of aesthetics and madness.

"This bizarre film by one of the most original directors now working in Germany is hermetic, expressionist, oblique, and of a creative perversity that bespeaks the presence of a genius. Purporting to deal with a real-life 19th century diva 'whose popularity was such that over-exertion led to her death while singing,' the film is actually a grisly series of frozen or tortured tableaux (predominantly lesbian in implication) of heavily rouged, frequently ugly women who, pretending to sing heavy opera, go through contorted, icy attempts at communication that lead nowhere. The lip-sync is off; the singing is off-pitch; mouths are frequently open while no sound issues forth, or closed, with mellifluous arias or cheap popular songs heard on scratchy renditions of old records. Neither burlesque nor slapstick, the film's intent, at least in the beginning, is nevertheless ironical and subversive, though mysteriously so. However, it grows increasingly dark and more threatening, with screams, faces bathed in Vaseline, red, wet mouths, smeared eye shadows, and dehumanized figures. One cannot 'explain' Schroeter's work, other than recognize his debunking of opera as a metaphorical rejection of bourgeois society; but one trembles in recognition of a prospective major talent." - Amos Vogel, Film as a Subversive Art

Special thanks to Juliane Wanckel, Lee Grice, and Natascha Bodemann.

About Ocularis

Ocularis is a 501©3 not-for-profit organization that provides a forum for the exhibition of independent, experimental and documentary film/video and new media, as well as international and repertory cinema. Ocularis was established in 1996 as a rooftop film series catering to local audiences in North Brooklyn. Since then, Ocularis has evolved into a weekly cinema, a producer of collaborative film/video work and an annual summer open-air screening series.

Ocularis screens weekly at:
Galapagos Art & Performance Space.
70 North 6th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
tel/fax: 718.388.8713