Paris Calligrammes

A film by Ulrike Ottinger. In German.

[Credits] [Trailer]

In a rich tor­rent of archi­val audio and visu­als, pai­red with extracts from her own art­works and films, Ottinger resur­rects the old Saint-Germain- des-Prés and Latin Quarter, with their litera­ry cafés and jazz clubs, and revi­sits encoun­ters with Jewish exi­les, life with her artis­tic com­mu­ni­ty, the world­views of Parisian eth­no­lo­gists and phi­lo- sophers, the poli­ti­cal uphea­vals of the Algerian War and May 1968, and the lega­cy of the colo­ni­al era. “I fol­lo­wed the foots­teps of my heroi­nes and heroes,” Ottinger nar­ra­tes. “Wherever I found them, they will appe­ar in this film too.”

In 1962, as a young artist, I came to live and work in Paris. That peri­od until 1969, when I left the city, was not only one of the most for­ma­ti­ve for me, it was also an era of intel­lec­tu­al, poli­ti­cal, and social uphea­val in modern histo­ry. The film PARIS CALLIGRAMMES com­bi­nes my per­so­nal memo­ries of the 1960s with a por­trait of the city and a social car­to­gra­phy of the age. Like Guillaume Appolinaire’s poe­try collec­tion Calli- gram­mes: Poèmes de la paix et de la guer­re (Cal- ligrams: Poems of Peace and War), I have given it the form of a fil­mic “pic­tu­re-poem” (cal­li­gram) in which the words and images, com­ple­men­ted by lan­guage, sound, and music, form a mosaic that emer­ges from the viva­ci­ty of tho­se exci­ting years while spea­king to the fra­gi­li­ty of all cul­tu­ral and poli­ti­cal achie­ve­ments. The Ariadne thread through the film is a walk across Paris with many stops whe­re topics are rai­sed out of any chro­no­lo­gi­cal order. In the tra­di­ti­on of the flâ­neur, I visit focal points in the city that were mea­ning­ful to me per­so­nal­ly and to the sto­ry of the 1960s, sites whe­re signi­fi­cant poli­ti­cal events tran­spi­red, important cul­tu­ral and artis­tic encoun­ters occur­red, and new com­mu­nal ways of life evol­ved. Not only was Paris in that time a “mel­ting pot” of intel­lec­tu­als and artists from all over the world, it was also under­go­ing the dif­fi­cult poli­ti­cal era of deco­lo­niz­a­ti­on. The War in Algeria, and later the Vietnam War, over-shado­wed the peri­od of rea­wa­ke­n­ing after the Second World War and brought peop­le from the colo­nies and poli­ti­cal con­flicts into the capi­tal. Thus my friendships that deve­lo­ped in tho­se years were so inter­na­tio- nal and color­ful, so exci­ting and inten­se.” (Ulrike Ottinger)



DE/FR 2019, 129 Min.,  dt. VO (Sprecherin U. Ottinger), dt. Teil-UT sowie engl. Voll-UT
Buch, Regie & Kamera: Ulrike Ottinger
Schnitt: Anette Fleming


PARIS CALLIGRAMMES – Offizieller Trailer