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THE BROTHERS SKLADANOWSKY

Germany, 1996 (MIFF 1996, Contemporary World Cinema )

Director: Wim Wenders & students of HFF Munich

When Max Skladanowsky's eldest daughter Lucie, confides that she misses her unde, a Juggler, when he is away touring, her father goes to work on a means by which she can always see lifelike, moving images of her favourite relative. A sweet childish request for the impossible (in the 1890s] became the inspiration for an inventor.

Wim Wenders' latest project tracks the dev­elopment of early German cinema through the efforts of Max and Emile Skladanowsky. On November 1, 1895 they publically projected eight short scenes depicting perlormers at a popular Wintergarden Theatre variety show.

The Skladanowskys were DIY inventors, not engineers. They earned their money at fair­grounds and with no financial backing they truly co-invented cinema in a poetic, endearing and rather 'un-German' way. The story is told through the eyes of daughter Lucie as a child and again at 91, her age at the time Wenders was making the film. She shows photos from a long forgotten era, magically a little girl and a juggler step out of these photos, wandering into the present as if only visible to the viewer. The oldest of special effects still maintains the charm of the most amazing illusions.

The film has been executed (often using an actual hand-cranked relic) modestly, lovingly and with a gentle wit. Triumphs, defeats, and the Skladanowskys' unquenchable excitement at developing a new combination of science and art, undreamed of before.

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