Address by Frédéric Mitterrand, Minister of Culture and Communication, on the occasion of the inauguration of the retrospective «Werner Schroeter, la beauté incandescente», and screening of the film «La Mort de Maria Malibran», to the Centre national d'art et de culture Georges Pompidou Monsieur le Président, dear Alain Seban,Dear Ingrid Caven,Ladies and Gentlemen,Dear Friends,

Talking about Werner Schroeter after Ingrid Caven who knew the
filmmaker and her work is a challenge. Ingrid Caven is indeed part of
those that were for Schroeter «Alice in Wonderland»,
to use the beautiful expression of Isabelle Huppert. I will try
nevertheless to take up the challenge in a few words before the screening of La
Death of Maria Malibran.
The man in the black hat and the perfecto left us a few weeks ago
month. As production and shooting are by definition the
moments that make films a collective work, I believe that Werner
Schroeter would have been particularly pleased to see here tonight those who
have given to its creations their multiple dimension: the production, the
photography, costumes, decoration, scenography, editing -
you have all been present for this tribute to a work that
celebrated self-realization through the experience of passion and creation
The most varied categories have attempted to identify homogeneity
of an aesthetic whose ambiguity, madness and strangeness are often the
protagonists. For some, Werner Schroeter represented a
Lautréamont who would have converted into a cinema of excess. One thing
is sure: the music and the bodies are the materials he has seized, with
you, with a masterful hand. A cinema that music penetrates through
from Maria Callas to Janis Joplin and German pop. A cinema that
also carries out this «anarchy of the body» that Michel Foucault
had seen in the Malibran.
Gender studies will then talk about kitsch collages or aesthetics camp.
Is it a postmodern cinema, an underground cinema? Rainer
Fassbinder had rightly pointed out the limits of these labels
the work of Schroeter was the object, and which immediately classified his films
«in the category of beautiful plants, but exotic plants, those
that bloom so far and so different from home that you don’t feel
really concerned by them, and especially not obliged to be concerned by
they». To this botany for theorists I would prefer perhaps
the ambiguity of the word mannerism, a little in the way that the historian of
art Patricia Falguières has redefined this late classification of a whole
of Renaissance art: that of an avant-garde, which does not hesitate to
distort codes and bodies to push a project through
aesthetics. Fassbinder, Wenders, Herzog were not mistaken, they who
have recognized the major influence that his work has had on theirs.
Paying tribute to Werner Schroeter tonight is also a celebration
Europe of cinema. We are indeed in Paris to greet, with
the support of the Goethe Institute, one of the biggest names in German cinema,
alongside a great figure of the song and comedy of Outre-
Rhine, before the projection of a work whose digital restoration has
also involved the Eye Film Institute of the Netherlands – not to mention the
figure of the Malibran herself, the Spanish girl born in Paris, who
singing in Italian. To parody a word
apocrypha that is often attributed to Jean Monnet about the project
European: «if I had to do it again, I would start with cinema».
Thank you.