|Birth Day:||March 31, 1939|
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He won awards at school for his work in philosophy.
Schlöndorff's Ulzhan (2007) stars Philippe Torreton as a treasure hunter on his way home who has lost his soul and Ayanat Ksenbai as Ulzhan, the woman who falls in love with him. David Bennent also co-starred. In the summer of 2012, he worked with Andrew Turner, who had formerly been a runway model for the late Alexander McQueen. Schlöndorff's World War II-era film Diplomacy, dedicated to his friend Richard C. Holbrooke, debuted at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival. Set in 1944, it explores how the Swedish consul general in Paris, Raoul Nordling, helped persuade Dietrich von Choltitz, the German military governor of Paris, not to obey Hitler's orders to destroy the historic city should it fall into enemy hands.
Volker Schlöndorff was born in Wiesbaden, Germany to the physician Dr. Georg Schlöndorff. In 1956, his family moved to Paris, where Schlöndorff won awards at school for his work in philosophy. He graduated in political science at the Sorbonne, while at the same time studying film at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinematographiques, where he was friends with Bertrand Tavernier and met Louis Malle. Malle gave him his first job as his assistant director on Zazie in the Metro (1960), which continued with the films A Very Private Affair (1962), The Fire Within (1963) and Viva Maria! (1965). Schlöndorff also worked as assistant director on Alain Resnais's Last Year at Marienbad and Jean-Pierre Melville's Léon Morin, Priest (both 1961). During this time he also made his first short film, Who Cares? about French people living in Frankfurt in 1960. He collaborated with filmmaker Jean-Daniel Pollet on the 40-minute documentary Méditerranée released in 1963. The film has been highly regarded since its initial release, gaining praise from Jean-Luc Godard and consistently appearing in the popular book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
The New German Cinema movement unofficially began in 1962 with the Oberhausen Manifesto, calling new young German filmmakers to revitalize filmmaking in Germany, much like the French New Wave of the previous few years. Although not among the initial group of filmmakers involved, Schlöndorff was quick to align himself with the group and [[Young Törless is considered one of the most important films of the New German Cinema.
Schlöndorff then worked on an adaptation, Baal (1970), Bertolt Brecht's first play for West German television and cast Rainer Werner Fassbinder in the lead role, along with Margarethe von Trotta, whom Schlöndorff would marry in 1971. Schlöndorff adapted the story of a self-destructive poet to modern day Munich. He then made another TV movie The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach [de] (1971), again starring Fassbinder. The film depicts 7 peasants in 19th Century Germany who rob the local tax collection cart but are so conditioned by their poverty that they cannot handle their newfound wealth.
Schlöndorff then completed the TV movie Stayover in Tirol (Übernachtung in Tirol, 1974), an adaptation of the Henry James short story Les raisons de Georgina for German TV and directed his first opera in Frankfurt, a production of Leoš Janáček's Káťa Kabanová in 1974.
Schlöndorff (and the New German Cinema movement as a whole) had his first financial hit film with The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum in 1975. Based on the novel of the same name by Nobel Prize-winning German author Heinrich Böll, Schlöndorff both co-wrote and co-directed the film with Margarethe von Trotta in her directorial debut. The film stars Angela Winkler as Blum, who after falling in love and spending the night with a young army deserter becomes the victim of a corrupt police investigation and predatory tabloid newspaper, which cast her as both a terrorist and a prostitute. The newspaper is based upon the real right-wing German tabloid Bild-Zeitung, whose publisher Axel Springer was the inspiration for the character Werner Tötges.
After directing his second opera We Come to the River in 1976, Schlöndorff followed The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum with the equally political Coup de Grâce in 1976. Based on a novel by French author Marguerite Yourcenar, the film stars von Trotta (who again co-wrote the script) as Sophie von Reval, a young left-wing aristocrat who sides with the Bolshevik Revolution after being rejected by a young German soldier preparing to fight the Red Army in 1919. The film depicts the same time period and subject matter that von Trotta would later revisit in the film Rosa Luxemburg.
A supporting actress in Coup de Grâce was Valeska Gert, a former cabaret dancer, circus performer and silent film actress who had worked with Greta Garbo and G.W. Pabst. This led to the documentary about her life Just for Fun, Just for Play in 1977.
Schlöndorff's next film was the most successful and ambitious of his career, and perhaps the most important film of post-war Germany: The Tin Drum, released in 1979. The film was based on the novel by Nobel Prize-winning author Günter Grass, who for years had rejected proposed adaptations of his book until giving Schlöndorff his approval (and assistance) to make the film.
In 1980 Schlöndorff collaborated with Stefan Aust, Alexander Kluge and Alexander von Eschwege on the documentary The Candidate, a film about the political campaign of arch-conservative Franz Josef Strauss.
Schlöndorff next made The Circle of Deceit in 1981. Based on the novel by Nicolas Born, the film concerns the politics and moral struggles of war photographers. The film stars Bruno Ganz and Jerzy Skolimowski as photojournalists covering the Lebanon Civil War in Beirut in 1975.
Schlöndorff then went to the United States to make a TV adaptation of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, starring Dustin Hoffman as Willy Loman and John Malkovich as Biff. Both actors won Emmys for their performances and Schlöndorff was nominated for an Emmy for his direction. The film premiered on television in 1985 and was released theatrically throughout Europe over the following years.
Schlöndorff returned to theatrical films with the Hollywood science fiction film The Handmaid's Tale in 1990. The film's story takes place in a dystopian near future where most women are sterile due to pollution. Kate (Natasha Richardson) is arrested after attempting to flee to Canada and forced to become a "Handmaid". Handmaids are fertile women who are enslaved by the state and put in the households of wealthy men - who have "ceremonial" sex with them in the hope of conceiving a child. She becomes the Handmaid of the Commander (Robert Duvall), Fred, who is married to Serena Joy (Faye Dunaway). To save herself from execution, Kate - renamed "Offred," since she now is attached to Fred's household - allows the Commander's driver (Aidan Quinn) to impregnate her and falls in love with him. The film was in competition at the 40th Berlin International Film Festival.
This was quickly followed by Voyager in 1991. The film stars Sam Shepard as a man who survives a plane crash, then finds the love of his life (Julie Delpy) on his next trip and begins to question the rationale of his good luck after having spent most of his life being cruel to others. The film was based on the novel Homo Faber by Max Frisch and was not a success financially.
In 1991, he was the Head of the Jury at the 41st Berlin International Film Festival.
In 1992 he directed the concert film The Michael Nyman Songbook, then made the first of his two documentaries on famous director Billy Wilder, Billy Wilder, How Did You Do It?, in which he and German critic Hellmut Karasek interviewed Wilder about his career over the course of two weeks in 1988. It was aired on German TV in 1992, and shown on TCM in the USA under the title Billy Wilder Speaks in 2006. Schlöndorff had been a great admirer of Wilder for many years and sought his advice during the making of The Tin Drum.
In 1996 he contributed to the French TV series Lumière sur un massacre with the episode "Le parfait soldat".
Schlöndorff returned to Germany in 1996 to make The Ogre, his most well-regarded feature film since The Tin Drum. Based on a novel by Michel Tournier and starring John Malkovich as the titular Abel Tiffauges, the film revisited many of the themes and time period of The Tin Drum. Tiffauges is a slow-witted French soldier who has been accused of child molestation. After being captured by the Nazis and put in an internment camp, he is made a servant at an elite German training camp and kidnaps local children, officially as a way to recruit them for the camp, but in his mind to protect them. The film was screened in competition at the 1996 Venice Film Festival and won the UNICEF award. The film was released in Germany in 1996 and gained positive reviews. On the audio commentary for The Tin Drum, Schlöndorff said that he had wanted to film a sequel to The Tin Drum, as the film was based only on the first two thirds of the novel. But because actor David Bennent was too old to reprise the role and he did not want to recast Oscar, he considers The Ogre to be an unofficial sequel to his masterpiece.
Schlöndorff returned to Hollywood for Palmetto in 1998. In a classic noir plot, the film stars Woody Harrelson as a falsely accused journalist who was sent to jail after uncovering corruption in the local government. After getting out of jail and unable to find work, he encounters Rhea Malroux (Elisabeth Shue), a femme fatale who propositions him to help her extort money from her millionaire husband. The film was not a financial success and has so far been Schlöndorff's last film in the US.
After the documentary Ein Produzent hat Seele oder er hat keine and a contribution to the omnibus film Ten Minutes Older (both in 2002), Schlöndorff made The Ninth Day in 2004. The film is Schlöndorff's third film to center around World War II and is based on the diary of Father Jean Bernard. Ulrich Matthes plays Father Henri Kremer, a Catholic priest who is interned at Dachau concentration camp during the Second World War. He is inexplicably released for nine days and sent to Luxembourg. There he meets a young SS soldier who informs him that his mission there is to convince the local bishop to cooperate with the Nazi Party, in which case he will not be sent back to Dachau. He is thus faced with the moral dilemma of betraying his faith or returning to the concentration camp.
Schlöndorff next completed the TV movie Enigma - Eine uneingestandene Liebe in 2005. In 2006 he returned to the city of Danzig to film Strike, a docudrama about labor strikes at the Gdańsk Shipyard during the Polish 1970 protests. The film is also a history of the Solidarity Movement in Poland leading up to the fall of Communism.
Currently, Volker Schlondorff is 83 years, 11 months and 27 days old. Volker Schlondorff will celebrate 84th birthday on a Friday 31st of March 2023.
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