Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Germans Line Up Their Sights on Tinsel Town

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Germans Line Up Their Sights on Tinsel Town

Article excerpt


THE BATTLE of Stalingrad cost Germany the war but it might yet win it Hollywood.

Europe's most expensive film ever debuted at the Berlinale film festival this week with high-hopes of Teutonic cinema riding on its lavish shirt tails out of the art house and into the mainstream movie world.

The film, Enemy at the Gates, stars Jude Law as a Russian sniper facing off against his German foe Ed Harris in the rubble of the metropolis Stalin named

for himself. It is the third try to make a commercial success out of the human abattoir that was the worst battle of the war.

At Stalingrad, the German army lost 300,000 men and all hope of victory.

The [pound]52 million epic is no Titanic, but there are enough action scenes and love-story themes for it to be a commercial success. Certainly there are hopes that it will propel on to the world stage a prolific cinema industry that, while it has enjoyed some international successes, largely remains locked within Germany's own borders.

There is plenty going for German cinema. It is the second biggest financial power in world moviemaking. It has tax breaks for film makers, a thriving studio setup in Berlin and Munich, and has given the world legendary stars and film makers from Marlene Dietrich and Hardy Krueger to Leni Riefenstahl and Wolfgang "Das Boot" Petersen.

But a tendency for domestic moviemakers to dwell on narrow German themes and "arty" movies has stunted the growth of what many say should, by rights, be a behemoth.

Now, with the release of Enemy at the Gates, there is hope that Germany will find its cinematic place in the sun.

Hollywood East, as some like to call Berlin, believes it stands on the brink of a new era of German-American financing and production of movies.

"We want to show that European, and particularly German, productions can be international successes," said Roland Pellegrino, chief executive of KC Medien, the movie's co-producers and biggest financial backers. "We want to produce marketable films that will be seen beyond Germany."

Mandalay Pictures, the US partner in the deal, believes that Germany does have the opportunity for growth at a time when all economic indications are that Europe is set to carry on expanding as the US slows down. …

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