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VIDEO ESSAY - Deceptive Surfaces: The Films of Christian Petzold

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by Kevin B. Lee
May 13, 2012 9:25 AM
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If one wants to call Christian Petzold the most important German filmmaker of the last decade, it’s because his films operate on multiple levels whose complexities lie just beneath a deceptively simple surface.

On a basic level, his recent films, like Yella, Jerichow, and Dreileben: Beats Being Dead, work as entertaining dramas centered on themes of sex, greed, and loyalty. The major characters are all driven by the desire for a better life, and they give each film a restless, seeking energy. But they find themselves caught between different worlds. In Yella, a woman from economically depressed eastern Germany seeks a promising career in western venture capital, but the past catches up with her in the form of her estranged, down-on-his-luck husband. In Jerichow, an unemployed ex-soldier finds work with a Turkish businessman, only to fall for his German wife. In Beats Being Dead, an ambitious medical intern with falls in love with a working class Bosnian refugee.

Read the rest of the transcript at Fandor.

Kevin B. Lee is Editor in Chief of IndieWire’s PressPlay Video Blog, Video Essayist for Fandor Keyframe, and contributor to Roger Ebert.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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