The Classics section of the Berlinale finds a place for James Cameron as well as Carl Dreyer

Posted on January 24, 2019


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Many of us consider Terminator 2: Judgement Day a classic, but it’s heartening to know the Berlin Film Festival thinks so, too. The digitally restored 2K DCP version (in 3D) of the James Cameron blockbuster was world-premiered at the 2017 edition of the festival, whose film-history programme is called Retrospective. It’s curated by the formidable-sounding Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen (German Cinematheque – Museum for Film and Television), but the organisation, clearly, is not snobbish about what films are a part of “film history”. Since 2013, the Retrospective has been complemented by the Classics section, which concentrates on premieres of new restorations. Another “classic” that was premiered the same year in a restored print? George A Romero’s groundbreaking zombie thriller, Night of the Living Dead.

This year, the Classics section is relatively sober, though not exactly all chin-stroking art-house fodder, either. There is the director’s cut of Dominik Graf’s 1994 action-thriller, Die Sieger (The Invincibles, German), which is about the head of an SEK team (the German equivalent of S.W.A.T.) who gets embroiled in crime and corruption. It was a troubled production. Graf did not get the funding he wanted for his “dream of making a glamorous genre cinema featuring stars, while nevertheless remaining unyielding and resisting any political correctness.”  The film, which has been compared to Michael Mann’s work, was a disappointment at the box office (Graf felt it was too dark), but it has its defenders. Daniel Kasman, writing in MUBI, called Die Sieger “ a panoramic revelation that slits the underbelly of German political corruption.”

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