Paris Calligrammes, dir. Ulrike Ottinger, Germany / France 2019, 130 min., German and French with English subtitles, 15
Ulrike Ottinger hitchhiked from her native Germany to Paris in 1962, a fearless 20-year-old with ambitions to become a great artist in the City of Light. She stayed for seven years, returning to Germany as the 1960s bled into the ’70s – and now, 50 years on and fast approaching her eighties, she pays personal homage to the Paris she knew, loved and left in this deeply poignant cinematic memoir.
Partly inspired by Apollinaire’s calligrammes
, a form of impeccably precise visual poetry, Paris Calligrammes
is Ottinger’s love letter to the city where she came of age, and to the bookstores, cafés, studios and clubs that fuelled her development as an artist. Artistic growth ultimately came hand in hand with political action – from the war in Algeria, which ended the year she arrived, to the protests of May 1968, the year before she left. The result is a beautiful translation of a potent moment in personal, political and social history.
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