Some hardy individuals helped themselves to a complementary glass of champagne for making it to the finish line at 3:20am this past Monday morning in Berlin. What was this extreme sport of endurance? It was the world premiere of the restored version of Fassbinder’s infamous TV mini-series Berlin Alexanderplatz at the 57th Berlinale. I think it is quite possible that the Walker’s own assistant curator Dean Otto may have partaken in the competition. (We will have to wait and see how he fared.)
The screening started at 10:00am on Sunday morning and drew to a close 17 hours and 20 minutes later – not for the faint of heart film fan. Inevitably a screening like this is just as much of an event as it is a viewing, and perhaps even a competition. We have had our own versions of stamina cinema here in the Twin Cities: Bela Tarr’s 7 hour epic Satantango recently played across town at the Oak Street, and the University of Minnesota’s DocuLens Asia Film Series hosted Wang Bing’s 9 and a half hour underground documentary West of the Tracks. I personally like this idea of pushing your film viewing to the limit. I’ve often been accused of squandering my time in movie theaters, so I’m glad to see my vice gaining some momentum.
Another sign of stamina cinema gaining mass appeal, AMC has announced that it will screen all five of the Best Picture Oscar nominees in a row on Saturday February 24th (locally at Southdale and Arbor Lakes) that adds up to over 12 hours at the multiplex. 30 bucks will get you into all five of the films, starting at 11:00am with Babel and ending at with the plucky Little Miss Sunshine, AND a free popcorn AND a free drink AND free refills! Despite the fact that I have seen four of the five and found them, for the most part, unworthy, I am still very tempted.
Rumor is that Criterion will be handling the restored Berlin Alexanderplatz on DVD in the US, and I look forward to seeing it in all its restored glory. Will I watch it in one sitting? Probably not. Would I spend 17 hours in a cinema to see it? Absolutely!
Spiegel article on the Berlinale screening of Berlin Alexanderplatz.