‘Hollywood Berlin’

UCSB scholar presents films by provocative German directors to showcase their remarkable vision

A legendary director noted for his uncompromising passion, Werner Herzog will kick off UC Santa Barbara’s “Hollywood Berlin” film series with the screening of his 1979 masterpiece “Nosferatu the Vampyre.”

Created by film and media studies professor Patrice Petro, the UCSB Carsey-Wolf Center’s series features five landmark films, dating from 1924 to 1979, to showcase prominent German filmmakers who produced avant-garde movies centered on powerful messages — Herzog, Fritz Lang, Ernst Lubitsch, F.W. Murnau and Billy Wilder.

“He’s quite larger than life,” Petro said of Herzog, who she will interview on stage following the screening of “Nosferatu” at the Pollock Theater. “He founded his own rogue film school in Los Angeles in 2009. And he’s agreed to talk about his remake of the innovative film of the Weimar era ‘Nosferatu: eine Symphonie des Grauens.’ Herzog’s film is very interesting because he makes a lot of interesting changes, especially around the female character.”

Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center, Petro developed the new series with a focus on the unprecedented number of German exiles and immigrants — directors, actors, writers, technicians and camera people — who left Europe to work in Hollywood, beginning in the 1920s. Collaborating with film and media studies doctoral student Naomi DeCelles, Petro handpicked the movies to provide entertainment as well as examine timely topics, such as race relations and mob violence. 

“I saw an opportunity to offer these wonderful, compelling films that are still enjoyed by people,” Petro said, “but with a take on it — what does it mean for us today?”

To provide perspective, film experts and scholars will participate in post-screening discussions. The other films being presented are:

Oct. 19: “To Be or Not to Be,” Lubitsch’s 1942 anti-Nazi political satire starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard. Petro will be joined by Chapman University film scholar Emily Carman.

Oct. 26: “The Last Laugh,” Murnau’s 1924 silent film about a kindly doorman demoted to bathroom attendant, with groundbreaking special effects such as an unchained camera. Composer Michael Mortilla will provide live piano accompaniment and discuss the film with UCSB film and media professor Charles Wolf.

Nov. 2: “Fury,” Lang’s 1936 crime drama starring Spencer Tracy, who gets snagged in a small-town investigation about a kidnapping that leads to mob violence.  Petro’s post-discussion guest is Eric Rentschler, a professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University.

Nov. 19: The series concludes with a 2 p.m. Sunday screening of “Some Like It Hot,” Wilder’s 1959 classic cross-dressing farce starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. David Mandel, executive producer of HBO’s “Veep,” will critique the film with Petro.  

Unless otherwise noted, other films and discussions will be from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Pollock Theater. The events are free and open to the public, but people should reserve a ticket at http://www.carseywolf.ucsb.edu to guarantee a seat. 

All the free tickets are reserved for the Herzog film at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, but a standby line will be available at the door on a first-come, first-served basis.

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