German Cinema Pick: The Kingdom of Naples & The Bomber Pilot
By Chuck Stephens
(Edition Filmmuseum, €29.95)
Another two-disc assortment of key Seventies Werner Schroeter titles from the always excellent Edition Filmmuseum. The Sicilian family epic The Kingdom of Naples (78), one of Schroeter’s forays into Mediterranean melodrama, demonstrates his allegiance to Italian cinematic masters (Rossellini, Visconti, Pasolini) and adaptability to the demands of straight narrative. The Bomber Pilot (70) is for those who prefer their Schroeter served raw—that is, early-career and ecstatically impoverished. Made for German television but politically outrageous, it’s about a trio of women who flee Germany for America once the Nazis are kaput—and features the usual assortment of über-hammy “performances,” snatches of off-key lieder and jukebox drinking songs, and the great Magdalena Montezuma, but memorably expands the firmament of Schroeter’s homegrown star system with the extraordinary Mascha Elm-Rabben (here appropriately monikered “Mascha Elm”), who’s showcased as a wood sprite, mostly nude and hippie-dancing in a forest glade.