Tue. Apr 23rd, 2019

The painter who defeated Hitler and Stalin

El pintor que venció a Hitler y Stalin

The film starts in the exhibition of
Degenerate art
that the Nazis mounted in Munich in 1937 to try to degrade creators of the likes of Kandinsky, George Grosz, Max Ernst or Paul Klee.

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The future artist and main character of the film, Kurt Barnert (Tom Schilling), is then only a kid whose eccentric aunt confesses that she does like the paintings that the guide of the show is disqualifying. Kurt ignores of course to what extent the elements of that scene will mark his life and his future as a painter in which it will be a silent battle against political and human totalitarianism, as well as against the family traumas derived from the exercise of terror.

The director and screenwriter Florian Henckel, Oscar winner to the best foreign film of 2006 with Other people's lives, was based on the moved biography of Gerhard Richter to tell the personal epic of a victory of art over totalitarianism in its bloodiest versions in the twentieth century: the dictatorships of Hitler and Stalin.

The shadow of the past
, as in the real story of reference, the beloved aunt of the protagonist, Elisabeth May (Saskia Rosendahl), suffers a disorder that the doctors-murderers of the SS diagnose as schizophrenic and indicate as a sufficient reason to confine her first and liquidate her shortly after.

Over time, Kurt falls madly in love with a woman, Ellie Seeban (Paula Berr)whose possessive father, the teacher Carl Seeband (Sebastian Koch), turn out to be the doctor who determined the elimination of his aunt. The action takes place between Dresden (East Germany) and Dusseldorf (West Germany).

Frame from 'The shadow of the past', by Florian Henckel, with actor Sebastian Koch in the foreground

Frame from 'The shadow of the past', by Florian Henckel, with actor Sebastian Koch in the foreground

The film, which lasts three hours, deals with the search and achievement of full freedom -very expensive in this case- as an unavoidable condition for artistic creation. "Without absolute freedom simply or there is art", says the filmmaker in a talk with The vanguard during the presentation of the film in Madrid.

"One of the characteristics common to all dictatorships - continues Henckel - is the efforts of their leaders to control the media and art." Why art? For the simple but at the same time subtle reason that it is "a way of seeing the world". So that when manipulating the artistic creation - the director's reason - the public is told how to perceive reality. Little joke

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