Paul Dessau | Let's Hope for the Best
The remarkably dazzling life of the German musician Paul Dessau is more than a good story and virtually cries out for the making of a very special film.
© sounding images
Paul Dessau has been a violin prodigy, became Otto Klemperer's assistant and finally an accomplished conductor. He wrote operetta and film music - from mountain films with Leni Riefenstahl by director Arnold Fanck to Walt Disney's animated films. As a convinced communist, Paul Dessau settled over to the GDR in 1948. He worked with Bertolt Brecht as well as his fourth wife, the stage directing idol Ruth Berghaus, and had a significant influence on the socialist music scene and stage art.
With over 430 works to his name, Paul Dessau has been what a workaholic is being called, with his explosive, often unwieldy sound language an inconvenient man who wanted to change society and help shape it: "Music is not a medium for relaxation. Absolutely not. There are pills or walking for that, which is cheaper. Music is really exhausting - to make and to listen to."
The film portrait consciously traces the contradictions in Dessau's character, life and work and embeds the man and his music in the historical context. The cinematic approach to the protagonist and his sound cosmos becomes a jigsaw puzzle, both literally and figuratively, whose individual – often disparate – pieces slowly come together to form an overall picture.
In staged concert scenes, artists translate his sound into body language and tongue-in-cheek cartoons his song humoresques into associative picture stories. Musicians play in quarries, orchestral works become music clips, pupils of the "Paul Dessau" comprehensive school in Zeuthen walk in the footsteps of their namesake.
Duration 52 min
Author Anne-Kathrin Peitz
Producer Claus Wischmann
Executive Producer Claudia Cellarius
Camera Björn Kowalewsky
Editor Steffen Herrmann
Distribution DVD Euroarts
Production Company NDR/Arte, sounding images and Yellow Table Media, 2023
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