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Director: Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub Run Time: 127 min. Release Year: 1984 Language: German

Starring: Christian Heinisch, Harun Farocki, Laura Betti, Mario Adorf, Nazzareno Bianconi

Straub-Huillet’s brilliant distillation of Franz Kafka’s incomplete first novel Amerika is perhaps the most authentically German treatment of Kafka ever made. An ecstatic and haunted fever dream of the United States — the place where Kafka longed to disappear, if only in his imagination — Amerika is told from the perspective of a young German immigrant who encounters a strange new world, with its violent lies and quixotic optimism, like a modern-day Parsifal. Straub and Huillet took pains to render the German mannerisms and dialect of Kafka’s novel faithfully, and shot their film almost entirely in the port city of Hamburg. But their depiction of injustice and exploitation transcends historical specificity; as Straub said in 1984, “Kafka, for us, is the only major poet of industrial civilization, I mean, a civilization where people depend on their work to survive.”

While this may be one of the most accessible Straub-Huillet films, they stick to the core values that make them so special, with this being yet another damning critique of capitalism conveyed through austere framing and general rigorous filmmaking techniques.” Lynch/Fellini, mubi

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