Friday, June 29, 2007

Odds and Ends #3 (For Your Love Only)


I am having to dispense with my look at the critical reactions to Nastassja's third film simply because I can't find enough to constitute a post for it. As a German tv film there is very little vintage English language information available on it that I have been able to locate. I found a few current paragraph long reviews on line but nothing that really caught my eye enough to re post. I think it is safe to say that FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY is among the most inconsequential films of Nastassja's early career although it did get her noticed and spread her fame in Germany. It is also safe to say that the film does have a certain following in Germany for people who saw it when they were younger and I hope my rather harsh comments concerning it haven't caused any offence to anyone reading this. It works as a TV film from the seventies and it doesn't strive to be anything else, although its current 7.4 rating at IMDB suggests it does for the 227 people who have voted on it.
Outside of some original German promotional material for it in 1977 and some posters for its 1983 brief theatrical release, I haven't been able to find any memorable for FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY.
The film has a major fan at this address:
http://www.madame-pompadour.com/Kinski_Reifezeugnis/index1.htm
Here you can find a large number of screen captures from the film featuring many striking shots of Nastassja throughout the film.
The film has never been released on DVD in the United States and the VHS for FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY has been out of print for years, although used copies occasionally pop up on Ebay and Amazon.

Up next I will be looking at Nastassja's forth film, the coming of age feature PASSION FLOWER HOTEL (BOARDING SCHOOL). Material for this film is much easier to find so expect some longer posts than the ones I managed to deliver for FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Shooting Kinski #3 The Magazine Years (Part 1)


I decided with this installment of 'Shooting Kinski' that I wouldn't focus on a particular cinematographer since I didn't find the work done for Nastassja in FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY to be very satisfying. Instead I thought I would post a bit on a phase of Nastassja's career that pushed her further into the spotlight but is often overlooked.
Around the time of FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY, and as Nastassja's fame in Germany began to increase, she began appearing in many German magazines as a model. There are hundreds upon hundreds of various shots of Nastassja from this period in the late seventies that were taken by various photographers for German film and men's magazines. Some are very provocative, some quite innocent but they are all manage to capture Nastassja at a particular moment before her international career really took off.

Here are a few samples from the period, a google or yahoo search will bring up many more for those interested and various magazines featuring Nastassja often pop up on Ebay.

Nastassja would continue to model in between film projects throughout her career and I will occasionally be posting some shots of her from various publications as the blog goes along.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

3. "Tatort" Reifezeugnis (For Your Love Only) 1977

Before he achieved international fame as the director of such films as DAS BOOT, IN THE LINE OF FIRE and TROY, Wolfgang Peterson worked heavily throughout the seventies in German television productions. One of the most notable shows he worked on was the popular and long running series, TATORT and undoubtedly the most famous episode he ever directed from it was REIFEZEUGNIS.
REIFEZEUGNIS, which I will be referring to in it's international title FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY, is an episode that was highly anticipated by German television viewers when it premiered in 1977. Outside of the fact that the series TATORT was so popular, viewers were especially keen to see what Klaus Kinski's daughter Nastassja could bring to the tragic role of the 16 year old Sina Wolf.

Nastassja's third feature is one of the least successful of her early films, a mostly bland and very predictable television film that eventually did make it to the theaters in 1983, well after Nastassja had become an international star.
Wolfgang Peterson brings little of his later flair to the direction of this rather flat and predictable film that falls into pretty much every tv movie trapping possible. Co-written with Herbert Lichtenfeld, whom had previously written several TATORT episodes, Peterson's script is FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY'S biggest downfall. It is a very tired and meandering story that has been told much better many times before. Focusing on a young teenagers destructive and secret romance with her teacher that leads to a murder and then boring criminal investigation, FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY is really only notable in that it gives Nastassja her first leading role.
Working with popular German actors Klaus Schwarzkopf, Judy Winter and Christian Quadflieg, Nastassja is easily the best part of FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY and manages to inject what could have been a by the numbers role with a real sense of longing, confusion and finally humanity.
One of the biggest problems with FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY is just how uninvolved the filmmakers are with their material. Peterson's flat direction really lets his actors down and it is to all of the leads credit that the film has any life at all.
The directors of photography were mostly just involved in these German television productions and it shows as the look of the film is mostly un-dynamic and as lifeless as Peterson's stilted direction.
I don't mean to be too hard on FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY, as a typical tv film from the seventies it is perfectly acceptable. It is very much a product of its time and medium and it doesn't attempt to break out of either. I should point out also that I have only seen the older 93 minute VHS of this film. IMDB reports that there is a 108 minute version although I frankly can't imagine what that extra 15 minutes could bring to it outside of making it longer and possibly giving Nastassja more screen time. Who knows, perhaps my view of the film would change with a sharper picture and more footage, but I kind of doubt it.
As I said before, Nastassja is the best part of the film. She is totally believable in the role of the young Sina who is having an affair with her married professor and accidentally kills her ex-boyfriend when he finds out about it. The 16 (or 17) year old Kinski is stunningly beautiful here even though the lifeless direction and look of the film don't even attempt to compliment her. Perhaps the most important thing about FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY is that it showed that Kinski could shine no matter if she was working with poor material and uninterested filmmakers. It is unfortunately something that she has had to do at various points throughout her career, specifically in the last ten years.
Highlights of the film, outside of Nastassja's performance, include very sympathetic turns by Winter and Quadflieg as a married couple whose relationship is rapidly deteriorating due to the husband's inability to control himself. Also worth noting is an above average score, for a tv film, by Nils Sustrate and a pretty effective final act that manages to stay within the tv movie genre and yet still slightly seems to elevate it.
Nastassja is especially effective in her final few scenes when a combination of guilt, fear and abandonment causes her to have a near complete breakdown . Her final shot in the film, sitting next to a lake with her clothes soaked after failing to drown herself, is undeniably effective and could have left little doubt to anyone watching that Klaus Kinski's daughter had most definitely inherited his considerable talents.
FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY was a popular film among German tv watchers in the seventies. It would have been the first time that many of them would have seen the young Kinski, and for that reason alone it is a valuable addition to her filmography.
I suspect that for a lot of German people that came of age with this film, FOR YOUR LOVE ONLY probably feels a bit like THE BOY IN THE PLASTIC BUBBLE does for me. Something that you saw when you were young that struck a major chord and introduced you to someone incredibly special. So for some it is probably a case where nostalgia buries the fact that this is little more than an average tv film from the seventies that just happens to star one of the great actors of the period. It is essential for fans of Nastassja but as a film it is of very little consequence

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Rare Scans #1 (Nastassja, Klaus and Ruth)


Occasionally I will try to post some scans from my own collection that I haven't seen online. Pardon the poor quality of some of these as many are very old and my scanner at times leaves a lot to be desired.
This first shot is of a young Nastassja, her famed father and mother in the mid to late sixties. It originally appeared in a 1960's German magazine but this particular photograph is from a later 1980's article, as you might notice the smaller shot of Nastassja and her mom in the corner.
I really love this picture and I thought, that even in this poor quality, it was worth posting.

Odds and Ends #2 (To The Devil A Daughter)


Nastassja's second film was very loosely based on writer Dennis Wheatley's 1958 novel TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER. Wheatley reportedly hated the film adaptation which in its final form had very little to do with his book. For an exhaustive and interesting guide to Wheatley's world I would recommend http://www.denniswheatley.info/
TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER, the novel, is still in print and it makes for a most interesting read.

Unfortunately it seems as though there was never a proper soundtrack for TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER released. One of Paul Glass' musical cues is available on the fine HAMMER FILM MUSIC COLLECTION VOLUME 2. I hope that some more of the film's music appears someday.

TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER received a great deal of promotion upon its release and a large amount of international lobby cards, pressbooks and different poster designs can be found. I am especially fond of the original U.S. one sheet, with its striking shot of Nastassja, and that along with some other designs can be seen below in my review of the film.

There are many books, fanzines and magazines that have been dedicated to Hammer horror and those interested in the film are advised to search these out. Hammerfilms.com is probably a pretty good place to start.

Critical Reactions #2 (To The Devil A Daughter)


Here are a few various samplings of critical reactions to Nastassja's second film.

"A somewhat belated attempt by Hammer to hitch themselves to the EXORCIST/ROSEMARY'S BABY bandwagon...final results are rather confused, despite the best efforts of Lee as the demonic Father Michael and a top notch supporting cast...Sykes's direction has a certain flair to it and makes good use of the film's London locations."
-Howard Maxford, HAMMER, HOUSE OF HORROR-

"Poorly calculated attempt to cash in on THE EXORCIST...muddled, proving the studio was not up to the groundbreaking standards they set in the sixties."
-Richard Hilliard, Chiller Theater Magazine-

"The audience is treated to bizarre almost psychedelic dream sequences and a gory childbirth scene that imitates some of the most gruelling moments of THE EXORCIST and foreshadows the 'chest burster' from Ridley Scott's ALIEN....The delineation between the forces of light and darkness is always clear and lacks the moral ambiguity suggested by a film like ROSEMARYS BABY. In that sense, more than any other, it feels like a 'classic' Hammer horror film."
-George Watson, Screen Online-

"the film's demonology is still literally written, much better than the usual occult films of the period...17 year old Nastassja Kinski brings her custom earthy Gypsy sensuality...Particularly standout is Christopher Lee who gives a performance of towering, lascivious evil that dominates the whole film."
-Richard Scheib, Moria Review-

"Clammy, unnerving atmosphere...graphically unpleasant....also well made and enjoyable. The performances help a lot...Kinski was only 15 when the film was made and she does extremely well, already radiating the Mittel-European mystique that was used to such good effect in CAT PEOPLE."
-Mike Sutton, DVD Times-

"More, in terms of ambition; less, in terms of achievement...most over directed exploitation movie I have seen in a long time."
-Roger Ebert-

"The film's unlikely trump card is Richard Widmark...who romps through the proceedings with a disarming stoicism...it's a good deal more interesting than the rest of the possession cycle, but still a disappointment."
-Time Out Film Guide-

"Many Hammer films are fairly quaint chamber pieces, this film has a more modern, expansive feel to it...includes one of the earliest roles of future sex kitten Nastassja Kinski...according to Peter Sykes, she was hired merely because the German co-producers insisted on a certain percentage of German talent...stellar cast, impeccable production values and stylish direction, TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER comes close to being a very great film...one of Hammer's finest, most underrated films. It certainly is one of their most chilling too, and in this department it blows THE DEVIL RIDES OUT right out of the water."
-Troy Howarth, DVD Maniacs-

"Hammer goes out with a bang. Not a classic, but enjoyable."
-Bob Bloom, Lafayette Journal and Courier-

"Shockingly bad adaptation of the Wheatley novel."
-Ken Hanke, Ashville Mountain Express-

"Famous largely as the last Hammer horror film, but for most of its running time it shapes up as one of their stronger thrillers until a lame conclusion frustratingly knocks it down several notches. But for a while there, it’s a winner, and proof that Hammer could have competed in the world of late-’70s genre filmmaking."
-Matthew Kiernan, Fangoria-

"A bizarre film, which is actually far more of its time than something like DRACULA AD 1972 because of the serious approach it has, To The Devil... A Daughter may be occasionally unwatchable, but it's a fine way for Hammer to bow out. It's just a shame they did, as for a last film, it promises much for the future...undoubtedly a classic."
-British Horror Films.com-

"When I see the film, I'll probably cover my eyes."
-Nastassja Kinski around the time of TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER'S RELEASE-

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Shooting Kinski #2: David Watkin


Kent born cinematographer David Watkin is among the most important directors of photography in British Cinema history. He has lensed an astonishing number of wildly diverse and legendary films such HELP, THE KNACK...AND HOW TO GET IT, THE DEVILS and OUT OF AFRICA.
Born in 1925, the Oscar winning Watkin initially got his start working as a cameraman in many British documentaries and commercials. A fateful meeting with director Richard Lester would change everything for him and he was hired for Lester's wonderful THE KNACK...AND HOW TO GET IT. He would continue to work with Lester throughout the years on films like HELP, HOW I WON THE WAR and THE MUSKETEER movies.
Noted for his innovative work with lighting, Watkin has always demonstrated that he can shoot any kind of film in seemingly any kind of condition. Chief among my favorite films that he has shot are Ken Russell's THE DEVILS and THE BOY FRIEND. Shot back to back for the legendary Russell, it is hard to think of two films more different in the great directors filmography and yet Watkin handles them both with an astonishing range. THE BOY FRIEND stands as one of the great examples of how well Watkin can use color while THE DEVILS is perhaps one of the ultimate examples of how light should be used in a film.
Watkin worked with Nastassja twice, first on 1976's TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER and then on 1984's THE HOTEL NEW HAMPSHIRE.
Watkin's work on TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER is quite striking and among its most obvious highlights. Much like Robby Muller he seems to have an inherent understanding of how much power Kinski's face could project and he photographs her wonderfully in TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER.
Even better is his work on Tony Richardson's THE HOTEL NEW HAMPSHIRE, an underrated and striking film that features some of the lushest and most pure photography of his life. I actually prefer his work on this film to his Oscar winning OUT OF AFRICA from a year later. Speaking from a total layman's point of view when it comes to the art of photography, there is just something really warm about his work with Richardson. Kinski's Susie The Bear is one of her great roles and I have always loved how she is photographed in the film, with Watkin's understated style helping to bring out all of the vulnerability, doubt and finally emerging self confidence that Kinski projects.
Watkin would go onto to shoot many films throughout the late eighties and nineties but unfortunately he has never worked with Kinski again. He shot some lovely underrated films in the nineties including JANE EYRE but he will undoubtedly be most remembered for his work in the sixties and seventies with directors such as Lester and Russell. His last film according to IMDB was the little seen Kirsten Dunst feature, ALL FORGOTTEN. Ironic title for his final film considering the term 'forgotten' will never be used in describing the incredible career of David Watkin.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

2. To The Devil A Daughter (1976)


Nastassja Kinski's second feature, the Peter Syke's directed TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER, is a frustrating film in many respects, most notably in the fact that throughout it is so close to becoming a really great film. Unfortunately, even though it contains one of Christopher Lee's finest performances and several striking sequences, Syke's ambitious film finally falls very short.
By the mid seventies the famed Hammer studios was in serious trouble. The success of films like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, ROSEMARY'S BABY, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and THE EXORCIST had really changed the landscape of the horror film. Compared to these multi layered, and subversive films made by young filmmakers often barely in their thirties (or younger), the once vital and fresh world of Hammer Horror appeared very tired and old hat to many contemporary horror fans in the seventies.
TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER was a project that Hammer had been kicking around for a very long time. Based very loosely on a Dennis Wheatley, author of THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, novel from the fifties, TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER would prove to be the final Hammer Horror film ever made, even though it actually did quite well for them at the box office. The film greatly benefits from the direction of Sykes, who had helmed the very effective and underrated DEMONS OF THE MIND for Hammer in the early seventies.
The film, which focuses on a group of defrocked priests and a secret coven looking to sacrifice a young nun in order to grant the devil entry to rule the earth, is a strangely plotted and at times dreamlike production that is lovely to look at but ultimately hard to watch. Part of the problem no doubt lay in the behind the scenes difficulties ranging from a lead actor (Richard Widmark) who hated the project completely, a script that was undergoing constant rewrites and a final few moments that needed to be spectacular but was one of the biggest fizzle jobs in seventies horror. It is actually a miracle that TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER is as good as it is, in lesser hands it probably would have been a complete disaster but, in its first half at least, it manages to be a quite good and sometimes near great meditation on evil and the corruption of once good men. I think of particular importance is the contribution of writer Chrstopher Wicking who had infused evil, in the undervalued BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB, with the same kind of dramatic and dark pull that TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER possesses.

Nastassja's age has been questioned in this film and I have seen some reports say that she was as young as 15 or as old as 17 when she shot it. Made just past a year after THE WRONG MOVE, it is most likely that she had just turned sixteen or was close to it. Her age is often brought up no doubt in part due to the full frontal nudity she has in the film as well as the infamous 'reverse birth' sequence that is still pretty jaw dropping.
Whatever age she was, she gives a very good performance in a role that had to be pretty demanding for such a young actor. Like Wenders, Sykes seemed to understand how effective she could be in silence and some of the films best moments with her just focus on her face. Even at this young age, she is very good at representing a seething internal conflict and this is most apparent in the great scene where she pulls the upside down cross out and the viewer realizes that this seemingly innocent young girl is indeed already a part of this dark coven.
Richard Widmark is okay in the role considering how miserable he reportedly was, although he slips completely over the top towards the end and compromises what is already a weak conclusion even further. Denholm Elliott offers his usual, sympathetic solid support and it is always a pleasure to see Honor Blackman. The film though completely belongs to Christopher Lee who gives one of the most chilling performances of his entire career. As the defrocked priest who exclaims near the beginning of the film, "It is not heresy and I will not recant", Lee gives a totally believable performance as a man who was perhaps once very good but has completely given himself over to the darkest of forces. It was a personal role to Lee and he had been trying to get Wheatley's novel to the screen for years. For all of it's shortcomings, Christopher Lee's work in TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER makes it a fitting finale to Hammer's Horror empire.
The final moments of the film are among the most disappointing in any horror film of the seventies. While I don't agree with Lee's assertion that it completely ruins the film, it does seriously call into question much of the style and near greatness that came before it. It has been said that financial issues were a huge part as to why the ending wasn't more successful but to this day it bugs me that the time couldn't have been taken to improve it, even if just slightly.

There is much to praise in the film outside of Syke's mostly solid direction and accomplished acting by Lee, Kinski and Denholm. The Paul Glass composed score is very effective as is the sharp editing of John Trumper. The editing of this picture must have been a nightmare, especially in the first half hour with the alternating story lines and dreamlike sequences but Trumper handles it beautifully for the most part. The film would have been a lot more convoluted and confusing in lesser hands. The talented ITALIAN JOB and GET CARTER editor would sadly work on very few projects after TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER though. David Watkin's photography is nice and it is especially good at achieving a languidly creepy tone that is hard to argue with. Kinski's famous nude scene is photographed really beautifully and it's to Sykes and Watkins credit that, what could have been an unbearbly tasteless moment, plays out so well.
The talented Les Bowie, who had done special effects with Hammer since THE QUARTERMASS EXPERIMENT, is let down by a lack of funds on the producers part. Still I don't think the affects are quite as bad as some critics and fans have mentioned, and the must have inspired ALIEN sequence is very well done.
As I stated before, TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER actually did pretty well in its initial run and got a lot more attention than most Hammer films from the mid seventies. Ironically it achieved the updated feel that Hammer wanted, and had the company been able to afford to they might have remained viable players in the marketplace. As it was though, the film turned out to be not only the last Hammer horror film but the next to last feature they would ever produce. 1979's THE LADY VANISHES remake would shut the once mighty Hammer's doors completely with only two tv series coming afterwards.
Outside of getting her seen by many more people than WRONG MOVE, TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER did little for Nastassja's budding film career. Her nude shots appeared in magazines all over the world and it led to a few years of work posing in, mostly German, men's magazines. The role did get her seen though, and that would prove vitally important to the young Kinski who would soon appear in a flurry of films that would lead to her triumphant role 4 years later in Polanski's TESS.
TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER might not be a total success but it is well worth watching and the Anchor Bay dvd from a few years back features a very nice uncut transfer of it. Included is a near thirty minute documentary that is very interesting and features an honest interview with a still disappointed Christopher Lee. Nastassja was not sadly not featured in the documentary and the dvd would have been much more valuable with a commentary track.
While not of the standard of her first film, THE WRONG MOVE, TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER remains a film in Nasatssja's canon well worth seeking out and watching. As the last horror film Hammer ever produced, historically it remains an important chapter in British film history.

Odds and Ends #1 (The Wrong Move)


There are several books and a couple of cds that can be found in connection with Kinski's first film, THE WRONG MOVE. The original novel "Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship" by Goethe is easy to find used and is still in print. While the film was a very loose adaption and modern updating of Goethe's work, it is still a valuable companion to the film.
Also highly recommended are any number of books available on Wenders and his films. Since Nastassja has made three films with Wenders and they have maintained a close relationship, fans are advised to seek out any of these guides with "Wim Wenders On Film: Essays and Conversations" being a particularly good read.
Finally, while there has never been a complete soundtrack of the film's striking score by Jurgen Kneiper, various cues can be found on two Wenders cd compilations. These are "Wim Wenders RoadMusic" and "Wim Wenders FilmMusic", both of these collections feature some of Kneiper's music and are highly recommended. Unfortunately they are both out of print and are not easy to find reasonably priced. Hopefully Kneiper's fine score will resurface again someday as it remains extremely memorable.

I will next be looking at Nastassja's second film, the Hammer production TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER. Nastassja had a much larger role in this film and more material is available on it so be looking for several posts on it throughout the next few days.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Critical Reactions #1 (The Wrong Move)


I will be looking at some past and present critical reactions for every one of Nastassja's films on this blog. Here are a sampling of opinions on Wenders THE WRONG MOVE, some of which are very positive and some extremely negative. Unfortunately at this point in her career, and due to her small role, Nastassja is rarely mentioned.

"The movie deals in heightened experience through vivid colors and in the amplification of small sounds...an uncommonly beautiful film. Also fine are Mr. Blech, Miss Kinski and the incomparable Hanna Schygulla...another fascinating reminder of the very original work being done these days by Mr. Wenders and his German colleagues." -Vincent Canby, New York Times-

"The Kinski girl is not recognizable from her more recent outing in an Italian film...picture's chief weakness is it's choice of a dullard writer hero who may achieve something in the distant future...but he is at a total loss in the here and now." -Archer Winsten, New York Post-

"Wender's strengths are tantalisingly in evidence: the highly charged road sequences, the meditative use of landscape, and the tensions beneath apparently desultory encounters." -Time Out-

"Everyone wants to be an artist, but no one has anything to say. The wrong moves are geographical, historical, social and aesthetic. It is Wender's most dour film, and the grim tone takes its toll. There is, though, a solid and disturbing talent at work here." -Dave Kehr-

"Wenders elucidates his views on the condition of postwar Germany, the hopes, fears, disappointments and frustrations of its inhabitants. Despite the sententiousness of the idea, there's a strong emotional kick to the stories of these emblematic characters." -Channel 4 Film-

"Pointless and interminable...Filled to the brim with dialogue and voice over narration that generally comes off laughable...stereotypically self indulgent foreign flick. But the bottom line is that WRONG MOVE, virtually from start to finish is just dull...exasperating piece of work." -Reel Film Reviews- (I must add a note here on how much these people hate Wenders as later they actually call LIGHTENING OVER WATER one of the worst films ever made)

"The movie's West Germany aches from an inability to deal with the past (with a nation's own wrong moves)...the filmmaker stages the narrative's progression as a series of clarifications visualized-extraordinarily expressed in Robby Muller's lengthy tracking shots...the film nevertheless shares their sense of discovery and need to connect and, ultimately, to feel." -Fernando F. Croce-

I think looking at these reviews is most interesting, I would argue that the most important films are typically the ones that cause the biggest disagreements and THE WRONG MOVE definitely has always done that. I found Mr. Croce's review to be among the most insightful with the Reel film review to be among the most vacant.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Shooting Kinski #1: Robby Muller


Very few would deny that Nastassja Kinski is one of the most photogenic women on the planet. I wanted to start a special series highlighting the men and women who have photographed her since she began her career and the cinematographer who shot her first film seemed like an obvious first choice.
Robby Muller is one of the most acclaimed cinematographers of the past fifty years. His work has won many awards and he has continually been sought after by some of the most important worldwide directors in modern cinema.
Muller was only 34 when he shot Nastassja in Wenders THE WRONG MOVE. He had previously worked with Wenders on nearly all of his early work including the amazing ALICE IN THE CITIES, a film that would really put Muller on the map as one of the great cinematographers of the seventies.
His photography of Kinski in THE WRONG MOVE is striking stuff, he seemed to understand, like Wenders, that much of her power is in her face and particularly her eyes. He photographs her in a very natural way in THE WRONG MOVE, there isn't anything unnatural or necessarily glamorous about the young Kinski in this film, and Muller's unfussy way of photographing her brings out her striking features wonderfully.
Anchor Bay's recent dvd of THE WRONG MOVE really shows Mullers work in a great light, with his close ups of Kinski feeling so intimate that she could almost be sitting right next to you.
Muller would photograph Kinski again with a heartbreaking intensity on Wenders PARIS, TEXAS. Muller seems to break through Nastassja's heavy makeup and bleached hair here and finds her remarkable face in a series of overwhelming close ups that are among the best I have ever seen in a film. His style has always been perfectly suited to Wenders explorations of people's internal struggles so it is perfect that the two have worked together so often.
Muller has also shot many great films without Wenders, with some of my favorites being Peter Bogdanovich's THEY ALL LAUGHED, Jim Jarmusch's MYSTERY TRAIN and Lars Von Trier's BREAKING THE WAVES and DANCER IN THE DARK.
Muller is one of the few great cinematographers who is able to work equally well with color and black and white. His photography of Nastassja Kinski THE WRONG MOVE and PARIS TEXAS remains extremely vital and is among his very best work.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

1. Falsche Bewegung (The Wrong Move) 1975


Nastassja Kinski's introduction to a film audience is done in a series of very bold and striking shots that immediately show just how powerful a presence she could be. We first see her crouched down in a passenger seat on a train, staring just slightly past the camera. For the next few minutes the camera cuts back and forth between her penetrating gaze and our male protagonist. As the camera cuts to shots of the outside landscape rushing by, through the trains windows, we are struck by just how much this young actress is commanding our attention, and then we realize that she has done so without making a sound.
Wim Wenders was nearing his thirtieth birthday when he began shooting the second of his planned trilogy of 'road pictures' in 1974. The film he had just shot, ALICE IN THE CITIES, had received a lot of attention and had placed Wenders, along with Werner Herzog and Ranier Werner Fassbinder, at the head of the so called New German Cinema movement.
Wenders was a lifelong film buff and had been greatly attracted by the American road film and the idea that a man escaping something to perhaps find himself would be a subject he would greatly like to explore.

THE WRONG MOVE stars Rudiger Vogler, Hans Christian Blech and Fassbinder regular Hanna Schygulla. Adapted from the Goethe novel by acclaimed screenwriter Peter Handke, THE WRONG MOVE is a quintessential film in 1970's German cinema. With its striking Robby Muller photography and minimal, and at times, bracing score by Jurgen Kneiper, Wenders weaves a tale of two characters (Vogler and Schygulla) struggling with the past and future aspects of German culture and their own lives.
Vogler is particularly good in this film as the travelling writer who is constantly reading and searching through his thoughts for a possible middle ground between his past and future. Wenders is remarkable at delivering characters who are stuck in this particular spot between what is just behind them and what might be just ahead.
Schygulla had just completed Fassbinder's incredible EFFI BREST and was just a few years away from reaching worldwide fame with his MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN.
Wenders reportedly found the just 13 year old Nastassja, who was no stranger to travelling and isolation in her own life, dancing in a disco one evening and was totally captivated by her. He would later say, "She was truly beautiful, there was something in her eyes." He would go onto say of her debut performance, "She was magnificent...and it was clear from the first rushes that she was an actress."
Kinski all but steals THE WRONG MOVE from her more experienced costars. As the mute young girl Mignon, Kinski projects everything with just her eyes. It is a remarkable performance that would oddly foreshadow seemingly unconnected future performances, like her juggling in CAT PEOPLE and her staring through a window in TESS. It has always been my thought that many of the directors who later cast Kinski had been entranced by such small moments in THE WRONG MOVE and had kept them in mind for their own films.

Outside of the importance of being her debut it would also be the first of three films that Nastassja would make with the great Wenders. Ten years later she would make her finest film, PARIS TEXAS, with him and then his WINGS OF DESIRE follow up, FARAWAY SO CLOSE in 1993. Wenders admits on the PARIS, TEXAS commentary that he would like nothing more than to work with her again and that, since they were averaging one film every ten years, that they were overdue.
THE WRONG MOVE would present the young Nastassja Kinski as an actress who had the rare capability to project everything with her eyes and face. It was that talent that so many of her later directors would later accentuate and it separated her from most of her contemporaries. It was no coincidence that many of the actresses Nastassja was later compared to, most notably Garbo and Dietrich, had started out in silent film. The ability to tell everything without muttering a sound was an almost completely dead art form by the mid seventies but here in this thirteen year old girl it remained very much alive. Intriguingly it would be a quality that she had, at least partially, inherited from her famed father. One look at any of his greatest works will tell you this man could also communicate everything with just a stare. It isn't surprising to note that one of his most iconic roles was in a remake of a silent film, Werner Herzog's mystically powerful version of NOSFERATU.
THE WRONG MOVE would go on to win seven German Academy awards in 1975, including one for Nastassja. It would prove that ALICE IN THE CITIES was not a fluke for Wenders and it would be the first of many masterpieces that he would produce in the next decade.

For years THE WRONG MOVE could only be found on a blurry and hard to find VHS version and an even harder to find, but not much improved, laserdisc. Thankfully the film is available in Anchor Bay's recent Wim Wenders box set in a fine transfer with a great commentary by the director himself.
Nastassja (billed here as Nastassja Nakszynski) has a relatively small role in THE WRONG MOVE but it is one of her most essential performances and the one that would put her career in a very different direction than most actresses that came out of the seventies. It was a most auspicious beginning for her.

A Brief Introduction


So who is Nastassja Kinski? Here are a few facts for the uninitiated. She was born in Berlin in 1961 or 1959 as Nastassja Aglaia Nakszynski to actor's Klaus Kinski and Ruth Brigitte Tocki. Her mother was a poet of the page and her father a poet of the screen and it this artistic nature that has fueled Nastassja throughout her life and career.
After some early work as a model, thirteen year old Nastassja made her film debut under the guidance of legendary German director Wim Wenders in his feature THE WRONG MOVE.

After her work in Wender's film Nastassja gave a string of memorable performances in films such as the Hammer horror production TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER and the erotic love story STAY AS YOU ARE. Her career really took off though when she met famed Polish director Roman Polanski at a modeling session he was photographing.
Polanski had long wanted to film his late wife's, Sharon Tate, favorite book (Thomas Hardy's TESS OF THE DUBERVILLES) but had been unable to find the right lead actress. One look at Kinski convinced him she was the only one who could play the tragic heroine and the young Nastassja was given the coveted role.
Nastassja is astounding in TESS and it won her the Golden Globe for most promising newcomer and made her an international star. The period of 1980-1984 is her peak as an actress and cemented her legend. She would make a series of films in these four years that have become cult classics even though they weren't all acclaimed at the time.
Highlights of this period include CAT PEOPLE, ONE FROM THE HEART, EXPOSED, MOON IN THE GUTTER, UNFAITHFULLY YOURS, MARIA'S LOVERS and PARIS TEXAS. Nastassja was a major star in these four years and was often compared to Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich. She appeared on an endless string of magazine covers all over the world and was one of the most written about figures of the early to mid eighties. Her popularity reached its peak when she posed nude with a snake for Richard Avedon, with the image becoming one of the biggest selling posters of all time.

A disastrous film directed by Hugh Hudson called REVOLUTION hurt Nastassja's career as well as her costar, Al Pacino. From 1987 to 1994 Nastassja would appear in just European films and while her fame faded her acting skills became even more fine tuned. Many of these films are hard to find in America but I have managed to get them and look forward to posting reviews of them.
In the mid 90s Nastassja returned to American screens with two very fine performances in ONE NIGHT STAND and YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS. Since then she has worked pretty prolifically, often in films no where near as good as she is but she has consistently delivered fine work and has developed into an extraordinary character actress.
Outside of a cameo in David Lynch's most recent film, INLAND EMPIRE, Nastassja's film career has been very quiet the last few years. She is known as a devoted mother and her concentration on her family is extremely commendable. I do hope she does return to the screen again as she is one of our great actresses and still an astonishingly beautiful woman.
To keep up with her future projects I would check either her MySpace or the Nastassja Kinski jp site, both of which are linked to the right. I will, of course, post any updates on her career here also.

Welcome To Nostalgia Kinky


Greetings and thanks for stopping by to my tribute to my favorite actress, Nastassja Kinski. I have been frustrated by the lack of serious attention that has been given to Nastassja's remarkable film career, so I thought I would start this blog to give due respect to it.
My name is Jeremy Richey and I am a college student in Kentucky. I have a main blog that I post on daily at mooninthegutter.blogspot.com and am obviously very fascinated by cinema.
Nastassja has been my favorite actress since I saw her in CAT PEOPLE when I was in my early teens. I have managed to collect nearly all of her films as well as some of her rare television work. I also have a large collection of rare clippings and articles that I hope to post on here in the future.
The main point of this blog is to take an in depth look at the film career of Nastassja. This will include my reviews of all of her films as well as looking at related materials such as tie in novels, press reports, outside reviews and soundtrack albums. I will also be posting many photos of Nastassja, some from my own collection and many from other online resources.
I have a very deep respect for Nastassja as a human being so I will not be focusing on her personal life. Occasionally published photos with her family might be posted and a personal well known tidbit might be mentioned in connection to the film I am talking about, but this will not be a blog interested at all in gossip.
I will also occasionally be posting on the careers of Nastassja's legendary father Klaus as well as her lovely daughter Sonja.
Comments are most appreciated but please keep them respectful to Nastassja and her family. I want this to be a nice place for her fans to come and celebrate her career.
So here we go. I will be looking at her films in chronological order starting with her first WRONG MOVE. I will obviously be spending more time on her major films than her lesser work and I will try to update the site at least a couple of times a week. My hope is to focus on at least one of her films a week.
Thank you and I hope you enjoy my tribute.