Ulrike Ottinger and the Autobiography of Art Cinema

McRobbie, Angela. 2009. Ulrike Ottinger and the Autobiography of Art Cinema. Screen, 50(2), pp. 260-263. ISSN 0036-9543 [Article]

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The work of Ulrike Ottinger has, in the pages of Screen and many other scholarly books and journals, provoked a good deal of controversy as well as critical acclaim among film theorists. Ottinger has been making films – among them Madame X: eine absolute Herrscherin/Madame X: an Absolute Ruler (1978), Bildnis einer Trinkerin/Ticket of No Return (1979), Freak Orlando (1981), China: die Künste, der Alltag/China: the Arts, Everyday Life (1986), Johanna d'Arc of Mongolia (1989), Südostpassage/Southeast Passage (2002) and Prater (2007) – at a prolific rate since the late 1970s, despite the funding difficulties that invariably accompany such an uncompromising vision and style. Her whole body of work (feature film, ethnographic documentary, photography, sculpture and video art installation) has in recent years in Germany and many other European countries, at last received the recognition it deserves, culminating in the screening of Southeast Passage at Documenta in Kassel in 2002 and in the highly successful retrospective of her work in Berlin in 2007. Nevertheless, in the UK film world there has been, in the last fifteen years, a relentless disparaging of the seriousness, tenacity and ‘high-mindedness’ with which a filmmaker like Ottinger pursues her erudite obsessions. For this reason, with the exception of an academic and arthouse audience, her later films have failed to find the acclaim in the UK that might otherwise be expected. Yet Ottinger's cinema has always held a key position in film theory, culminating in the great attention paid to her work in the 1980s and 1990s by feminist film scholars. Ottinger's work has helped to shape feminist film theory from its earliest days, in essays by Annette Kuhn, Miriam Hansen, Teresa De Lauretis, Kaja Silverman, Gertrud Koch, Janet Bergstrom, Sabine Hake, Brenda Longfellow, Mandy Merck and Patricia White. …

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



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Date Deposited:

27 Oct 2015 13:58

Last Modified:

27 Jun 2017 14:44

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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