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The Iron Angel: A problem with the Ilford film


The Iron Angel: Thomas Brasch
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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That is directed by Thomas Brasch who was mainly a poet, and a very good one, living in Eastern Germany. He's one of those people who fled Eastern Germany at some point, but quite late on in his career. And he was now living in the West. And the actor, Hilmar Thate who's also a very good actor who played in that film, Katharina Thalbach was in that film as well. Hilmar Thate was one of those actors who had permission to work in the West. There were a few people whom they trusted to work in the West, because they knew they'd come back. Sometimes there was a bit of pressure. He had his whole family in the East and he couldn't afford to light out on them. But Thomas had started... he was actually living in the West at that point, but only just.

And, there were some very interesting sequences in that film. Like there was a sequence of a robbery in the main power plant of the city, which we staged... I suggested that we stage it a bit like the scene from Metropolis, or something like that. It was almost silent. There was no dialogue, and there was all these staircases and people coming out of trapdoors, and it was very, very well done. Very, very interesting. And then there's a big climax where he's finally cornered by the police and there's a shoot-out, and he's taken away on the back of a donkey cart and all the... or a horse and cart, and all the neighbours are standing around, shouting, 'Berlin is not Chicago! Berlin is not Chicago!'

Born in Germany, cinematographer Walter Lassally (1926-2017) was best known for his Oscar-winning work on 'Zorba the Greek'. He was greatly respected in the film industry for his ability to take the best of his work in one area and apply it to another, from mainstream to international art films to documentary. He was associated with the Free Cinema movement in the 1950s, and the British New Wave in the early 1960s. In 1987 he published his autobiography called 'Itinerant Cameraman'.

Listeners: Peter Bowen

Peter Bowen is a Canadian who came to Europe to study and never got round to heading back home. He did his undergraduate work at Carleton University (in Biology) in Ottawa, and then did graduate work at the University of Western Ontario (in Zoology). After completing his doctorate at Oxford (in the Department of Zoology), followed with a year of postdoc at the University of London, he moved to the University's newly-established Audio-Visual Centre (under the direction of Michael Clarke) where he spent four years in production (of primarily science programs) and began to teach film. In 1974 Bowden became Director of the new Audio-Visual Centre at the University of Warwick, which was then in the process of introducing film studies into the curriculum and where his interest in the academic study of film was promoted and encouraged by scholars such as Victor Perkins, Robin Wood, and Richard Dyer. In 1983, his partner and he moved to Greece, and the following year he began to teach for the University of Maryland (European Division), for which he has taught (and continues to teach) biology and film courses in Crete, Bosnia, and the Middle East.

Tags: Eastern Germany, The Iron Angel, Metropolis, Thomas Brasch, Hilmar Thate, Katharina Thalbach

Duration: 1 minute, 40 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008