A very successful example of a poem used as dialogue between characters in a familiar movie set-up — a surprisingly uncommon tactic for videopoem makers. This was uploaded to YouTube by the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival folks, who solicited it for this year’s festival:
For the 6th ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival Polish film makers Maciek Majewski, Łukasz Twarkowski and Wiola Sowa have collaborated with German poets Norbert Hummelt, Nico Bleutge and Christian Filips to make film versions of poems of theirs. Together they chose the poems and worked on turning them into scripts. In the run-up to the festival the pairs of artists were meeting up in Berlin to turn their ideas into films within six days. The short films that have been created in this way were premièred in the fesival. This is Maciek Majewski’s film-version of Norbert Hummelt’s poem “Syrinx”.
The translation is by Christina Hales and the poet, who is also known for his translations.
Directed and produced by Jan Walentek, this was shown at the 2010 ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival in Berlin. There’s also a version in German:
The Gottfried Benn Electronic Library includes an English translation of this poem (click through to read it side-by-side with the original):
A Fine Childhood
The mouth of a girl who had long lain in the reeds
looked so chewed up.
When we broke open the torso, the esophagus was so full of holes.
Finally in a bower under the diaphragm
we found a nest of young rats.
One little sister rat lay dead.
The others were living off liver and kidney,
drinking the cold blood and enjoying
a fine childhood.
And fine and fast was their death too:
we threw the whole bunch into water.
Oh, how those little snouts squeaked!
As for the film, this is a bit of a remake with extra audio effects added. Here’s what Lasse Kuhlmann posted in the description at Vimeo (italics added):
Schöne Jugend (A Beautiful Youth) is an award winning 60 seconds short film based on the same-titled poem by Gottfried Benn. This modern interpretation of Benn’s classic (poem) illustrates today’s society in a clear-cut formal structure. It is shot in only one take, one steady camera-spin of 360 degrees. The PoV (point of view) is thought to be in the middle of a table, around which eight people are eating in a gross manner. The well-thought-out visual concept is both enhanced and contrasted by the raw cruelty of human disgust.
Schöne Jugend was entirely reworked for the KLX 3D Sound format. While the original clip features only a narrative voice and “silent” pictures, Lasse Kuhlmann and Patrick Leuchter enriched the soundtrack by breathing life to those eight people shown in the frame. And while the camera spins around, the sound will spin AROUND YOU just accordingly.
Schöne Jugend wonderfully demonstrates the immersive real-life experience of the KLX sound format and was kindly provided by the director himself, who is highly enthusiastic about the new version.
make a film of the poem [meine heimat] by Ulrike Almut Sandig. The directors of the three best films will be invited to come to Berlin to meet the poet and have the opportunity of presenting their films and talking about them.