The Retrospective of Locarno75

Douglas Sirk

125 years after his birth, and 35 after his passing, the Locarno75 audience will get to rediscover the complete filmography of a master of classic American cinema: Douglas Sirk. He's the star of the 2022 Retrospective, curated by Bernard Eisenschitz and Roberto Turigliatto. Born in Hamburg and buried in Castagnola (Lugano), the German director of Danish descent is most closely associated with Hollywood, where he was one of its more talented and prolific storytellers in the 1900s. To quote two of the pictures the audience will be able to enjoy in August, this journey through his filmography will be a Summer Storm, or a Magnificent Obsession. It's the storm of an intellectual who left his country, refuting Nazi ideology, and the pleasant obsession of a European master, a German cinematic and theatrical talent who managed to win over the studios on the other side of the Atlantic.

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Sirk Douglas brilliantly exposed social hypocrisy as he created some of the most blazing, politically aware melodramas of all time.

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Forty-four years later his participation in the Festival, it seemed indispensable that we return to the work of this great master with a complete Retrospective that will explore every aspect of his complex oeuvre

The Retrospective will be marked by a new book from film historian Bernard Eisenschitz, published by Les éditions de l’Œil. After researching the wealth of archive material, Eisenschitz will put forward a new approach to Sirk’s work.

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Under the Third Reich he directed five remarkable and entirely uncompromising movies and, before fleeing from Nazi Germany, discovered the great singer and actress Zarah Leander. In Hollywood he followed the solitary, individual and diversified path that led to his great and justly celebrated melodramas


Biography

Detlef Sierck was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1897 and died in Lugano, Switzerland in 1987. He spent his childhood years in Hamburg and in his parents’ native country of Denmark before starting a career in theater in Germany. He was later hired by Universum Film AG (UFA), making his full-length debut with April, April! (1935) and directing films such as Schlussakkord (Final Accord, 1936) and La Habanera (1937). Joining numerous other European filmmakers who fled from Nazi Germany, Sirk soon attracted notice in America with Hitler's Madman (1943) and Summer Storm (1944) and began to establish himself in the industry, mainly with thrillers and dramas, but venturing occasionally into other genres such as the western (Taza, Son of Cochise, 1954). After changing his name to Douglas Sirk, in the early 1950s he signed for Universal and in 1953, with All I Desire, began the great cycle of melodramas – including titles such as Magnificent Obsession (1954), All That Heaven Allows (1955), Written on the Wind (1956) and Imitation of Life (1959) – that would later gain critical acclaim in Europe for their skillful examinations of American society, hallmarked by an anti-realist gaze, exquisite aesthetic refinement and unprecedented feminist sensibility.

After returning to Europe, Sirk settled in Switzerland, in Lugano, working again for the theater in Germany and teaching at the Munich-based Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen (HFFM), where he supervised the completion of three short films. 


Filmography

April, April! (1935)  
Das Mädchen vom Moorhof - The Girl from the Marsh Croft (1935)  
Stützen der Gesellschaft - Pillars of Society (1935)  
SchlußakkordFinal Accord (1936)  
Das HofkonzertThe Court Concert (1936)  
Zu neuen Ufern - To New Shores (1937)  
La Habanera (1937)  
Accord final (1938) 
Boefje (1939)
Hitler's Madman (1943)  
Summer Storm (1944)  
A Scandal in Paris (1946)  
Lured (1947)  
Sleep, My Love (1948)  
Shockproof (1949)  
Slightly French (1949)  

Mystery Submarine (1950)  
The First Legion (1951)  
Thunder on the Hill (1951)   
The Lady Pays Off (1951)  
Week-End with Father (1951)  
No Room for the Groom (1952)  
Has Anybody Seen My Gal (1952) 
Meet Me at the Fair (1953)
Take Me to Town (1953)  
All I Desire (1953)  
Taza, Son of Cochise (1954)  
Magnificent Obsession (1954)  
Sign of the Pagan (1954)  
Captain Lightfoot (1955)  
All That Heaven Allows (1955)  
There's Always Tomorrow (1956)  
Written on the Wind (1956)  
Battle Hymn (1957)  
Interlude (1957)  
The Tarnished Angels (1957)  
A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1958)  
Imitation of Life (1959) 

Short films from the Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen (HFFM) in Munich, supervised by Douglas Sirk:
Sprich zu mir wie der Regen (1976) 
Sylvesternacht - Ein Dialog (1977) 
Bourbon Street Blues (1978) 

 

 


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