Harun Farocki Essay Films

Harun Farocki Essay Films-4
He then began his career as an independent film and video maker, a career that has now spanned more than thirty-five years and more than sixty films and videos.The Berlin film scene of the early ‘60s in which Farocki began to develop was an energetic one, strongly influenced by the incipient student movement.(3) The Faroqhis were repatriated to India in 1947, and then moved on to Indonesia and West Java in the wake of the Indian Civil War.

He then began his career as an independent film and video maker, a career that has now spanned more than thirty-five years and more than sixty films and videos.The Berlin film scene of the early ‘60s in which Farocki began to develop was an energetic one, strongly influenced by the incipient student movement.(3) The Faroqhis were repatriated to India in 1947, and then moved on to Indonesia and West Java in the wake of the Indian Civil War.

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Harun Farocki was once described by Thomas Elsaesser as ‘probably Germany's best-known important filmmaker’, after labouring for years as Germany's ‘best-known unknown’ filmmaker.

(1) It is perhaps ironic that this accolade comes to Farocki just as he seems to have left the film theatre emphatically behind and adopted the museum and gallery – portals into the world of contemporary art – as his chosen venue, and video installation as his chosen medium.

The small cinemas and the film club Friends of the German Cinematheque provided a vibrant milieu in which to see and debate international cinema.

Theory was not unfamiliar to these students, who were well versed in Marx, Brecht, the Frankfurt School and Situationism.

The aesthetic that Farocki developed at this time was emphatically engaged, though attentive to the critiques of committed art familiar from the work of Theodor Adorno.

Farocki's early cinema was unabashedly didactic, even heavy-handedly so, something still in evidence in NICHT löschbares Feuer and characteristic of his films at least until the early ‘80s.In 1966, after several years of writing film criticism and other cultural journalism for local papers and hanging out in cinemas and film clubs, Farocki was accepted at the DFFB, West Germany's first film school.Just two years later, in May 1968, after he and fellow radical students occupied the school (rechristening it the Dziga Vertov Academy), he was kicked out.Jill Godmilow, who made a virtually exact replica of NICHT löschbares Feuer as What Farocki Taught (1996), has described it as an exemplary piece of agit-prop cinema.It is also remarkable for its mode of enunciation: ostensibly a film about napalm, the film shuns, as Farocki's opening remarks announce, any direct imagistic representation of the effects of napalm on its human victims; it only barely portrays its uses in Vietnam.As such, this work seems fully a part of that dominant trend in recent visual arts designated most handily by Nicolas Bourriaud as ‘postproduction’, a trend characterised by the persistent reuse, quotation and refunctioning of pre-existing works of art and prerecorded materials.(2) Though Farocki's recent works have an implicit leftist air about them – be it the product of their emphasis on particular content or the after-effect of Farocki's own reputation as a long-time political filmmaker – one wonders nonetheless about the significance of this move to the museum and whether or not it heralds a retreat from the principles of engagement that influenced Farocki's films and videos well into the ‘90s.As the camera moves in for a closer look, Farocki reaches off-screen, grabs a cigarette and slowly puts it out on the back of his wrist.The film that then unfolds is a remarkable document from the history of German cinema in particular, and international political cinema more generally.If Farocki had not been so adept in the course of his long career at adapting to circumstance and making the best of what little funding and materials and venues of exhibition were available, such a move would come as a surprise.For Farocki is a filmmaker known for his late ‘60s agit-prop films against the Vietnam war, his didactic Marxist fiction features of the late ‘70s, and his highly diverse array of documentaries and essay films from the ‘80s and ‘90s.

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