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My Film: Jürgen Flimm chooses Truffaut’s ‘Jules et Jim’

Jürgen Flimm first saw François Truffaut’s 1962 classic Jules et Jim at the age of 21. ”It is a masterly film about the loss of youth and how quickly dreams can fade,” says Flimm, who also identified with the troubled family life it portrayed. Fifty years on, Jürgen Flimm, now the director of the Berlin State Opera is still enthralled by the black and white masterpiece, which he presented last night at the Astor Film Lounge in the third instalment of ‘My Film’, a series organised by the German Film Academy – who also award the German Film Prize each year – which aims to explore film from a subjective, personal perspective. Every few months, a prominent figure from the intellectual, political or cultural sphere is invited to pick a film which has in some way influenced their life or world view, and explain their choice to the audience – the only criterion is that they must not be professionally involved in the film industry.

Director of the Berlin State Opera Jürgen Flimm (c) Thomas Bartilla

Director of the Berlin State Opera Jürgen Flimm (c) Thomas Bartilla

Speaking to a sold-out audience in the Astor Film Lounge, Jürgen Flimm gave a brief but entertaining introduction to Jules et Jim. He explained his fascination with the Nouvelle Vague movement in ’50s French cinema and his admiration for the film’s cast, particularly Austrian actor Oscar Werner, who plays the hapless Jules (“he was uncertain and vulnerable, but to me he was a sort of hero.”) as well as leading lady Jeanne Moreau who he describes as “unbelievably attractive” and her portrayal of the slightly unhinged Catherine as “divine”. For Flimm, the fact that the film is based on a true story – Truffaut adapted Henri Pierre Roché’s semi-autobigraphical novel about his relationship with writer Franz Hessel and his wife Helen Grund – makes it all the more compelling.

Jules et Jim

iconic scene from Jules et Jim © Raymond Cauchetier

As the credits rolled, there was a round of applause and an initial quiet in the room as the audience reflected on the brilliant yet unsettling movie. Flimm was then joined on the podium by actress Martina Gedeck – whose memorable performance in the unmissable The Lives of Others earned her international acclaim. Their discussion was lively, and Gedeck too praised Jeanne Moreau’s performance, revealing that whilst still in acting school she had watched one particular scene (where Moreau is singing to her male admirers) hundreds of times in an attempt to understand its brilliance and improve her own skills.

Actress Martina Gedeck and Staatsoper Director Jürgen Flimm discuss 'Jules et Jim' © Florian Liedel/Deutsche Filmakademie e.V.

Past “My Film” participants have included politician for the German SPD party Peer Steinbrück, who kicked off the series with Michael Ciminos’ harrowing 1978 film The Deer Hunter, which deals with the Vietnam War and its far-reaching effects. Steinbrück was followed by Prominent Lutherean theologian Margot Käßmann, who chose Treasure of Silver Lake (1962), which was one of her first ever encounters with cinema. Based on German author Karl May’s series, the films are cult cinema in Germany. Interestingly, although they belong to the Westerns genre, May had never been to America and the films were actually mainly shot in Yugoslavia. What’s more, the native Indian lead character Winnetou was in fact played by Frenchman Pierre Brice.

“My Film” was an engaging and sociable film experience and the Hotel Concorde is proud to be a partner of the event. Stay tuned to the German Film Academy website to find out when the next My Film will be taking place and be sure to reserve your tickets in advance… Just try not to get too comfy in the reclining seats of the elegant Astor Film Lounge – you won’t want to leave!

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