Screening Modernism: European Art Cinema, 1950-1980

By AndrÁs BÁlint KovÁcs | Go to book overview

18
The Year 1966

If the year 1959 is highlighted by the concentrated emergence of influential modernist films, the year 1966 was another important year in the history of modern cinema for a similar reason: it represents simultaneously a summit and a turning point. It was a summit because many of the most important films of modernism appeared in the period 1965–1966, and a turning point because many new trends or new periods started after this year. All the important filmmaking countries made their modernist turn by 1965, or at least attempts were made in this direction, like in the case of West Germany. The second wave of modernist directors making their debuts before 1963 were already through their second films, while the first wave of modern directors were already regarded as “classical” masters. All the important genres, styles, and solutions of modern cinema were already on the scene. Modern cinema was about to become classical, and it was time for a new start, and for reflection.

For Germany, 1966 was definitely the highlight of the 1960s as it became the opening year of the new German cinema. Four years after the Oberhausen Manifesto and after many years of depression new directors suddenly drew international attention to German cinema. The success of Alexander Kluge's Yesterday Girl at the Venice Film Festival and Ulrich Schamoni's It, Volker Schlöndorff 's The Young Törless, and Jean-Marie Straub's Not Reconciled at the Cannes Film Festival were the evidence of a real renewal of German cinema. Werner Herzog started his first film in this year, Hans-Jürgen Syberberg had already made a long feature, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder also started his short films by that time. Other major European modern auteurs made their first films or first films of international acclaim in this year, like Dusan Makavejev (Man Is Not a Bird), Jiří Menzel (Closely Watched Trains),

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