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Culture news, 29.10.2003 12:37

Films by Karl Valentin - German comic and film pioneer - in the Russian National Library

Karl Valentin - German comic and film pioneer Goethe Institut Inter Nationes in Saint-Petersburg shows a selected retrospective of Karl Valentin's films "Humor on the Brink of Disaster" in the Russian National Library on October 30 and 31.

Karl Valentin (1882-1948) was an early pioneer in the German movie industry, shooting his first film even before Charlie Chaplin's debut. Valentin excelled in screenwriting, directing, writing comedy and portraying himself as an eccentric person in short narrative forms, monologues, dialogues and sketches, using styles stemming from the circus and the music hall. In the thirties, censors badgered him multiple times; most of the Nazi censorship laws restricting artistic expression were applied to his work. After the war, Valentin was not able to re-start his career, which he had hoped to do in the United States. He died in 1948, impoverished and almost forgotten by most of his contemporaries. It was not until the 1960s that his ingenious works were rediscovered.

Valentin loved using shocking images to poke fun, allaying his own fears through laughter. His later films are striking for their tendency toward pessimism and black humor, reflecting the comedian's growing isolation, bitterness and resignation during the war years.

In this selected retrospective of Karl Valentin's best films from 1913-1936 Goethe-Institut Inter Nationes will recall a very special chapter in independent German film history. The screenings start at 18 p.m. on October 30 and 31 in the new building of the Russian National Library in the Conference Hall. Entrance is free of charge.

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