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Back from the Grave

One of the world's great film culture apostates, Hans-Jürgen Syberberg is mostly notorious for the seven-hour-plus 1977 film "Our Hitler," and for Susan Sontag's rocket-to-Mars essay, ambitiously praising it to the heavens, and for being the most recalcitrant of the New German Cinema's unholy four (with Wenders, Fassbinder and Herzog).

Finally, two of his famous earlier films have been released on video to contextualize that later behemoth, "Ludwig: Requiem for a Virgin King" (1972) and "Karl May" (1974), the three of which supposedly comprise a "German trilogy." Syberberg hardly seems disposed to ever make films about anything else, and it's an unassailable career project, especially in light of the last decade or so of Holocaust movies produced in Germany and elsewhere, which have tried to straitjacket and even romanticize the horrifying mystery of German culture's evolution.

Syberberg has always regarded it as a monstrous enigma, and his movies reflect his position in every frame.

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