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Berlinale Classics — First Films Announced, Directed by Dominik Graf, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Márta Mészáros


The Berlinale Classics programme of the 69th Berlin International Film Festival will present six premieres of digitally restored films. Three of those classics have already been chosen. They are Dominik Graf’s Die Sieger (The Invincibles, GER 1994), the Danish film Ordet (The Word, DEN 1955) directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer, and Örökbefogadás (Adoption, HUN 1975) by director Márta Mészáros, which won the 1975 Golden Bear for Best Film. All three will be celebrating a world premiere at the festival with Berlinale Classics screenings of brand-new digital restorations. The complete list of the programme’s films will be announced in January 2019.

Director Dominik Graf’s action-thriller The Invincibles (Die Sieger) returns to the big screen after 25 years in a new, restored director’s cut that is nine minutes longer than the original. In the film, the head of a police special forces unit becomes caught up in a net of corruption, with treachery and lies stretching from top politicians down into the ranks of his fellow cops.

The restoration crew from Bavaria Film took three scenes that had not survived on 35mm from a videotape of the longer rough cut and incorporated them into the initial theatrical release version. The challenge was to process the additional scenes to match the high-quality 4K digital material. The audio restoration required particular attention from the director and restorers, since the additional scenes had never been mixed.

Márta Mészáros from Hungary was the first female director in the history of the Berlinale to be awarded a Golden Bear for Best Film. She received the prize in 1975 for her sensitive film about women Örökbefogadás (Adoption). In the movie, Katalin Berek plays a single factory worker who would like to have a child with her married lover. She takes in a teenager from a children’s home, which gives the protagonist a chance to experience a “trial run daughter”. The film introduced international audiences to Mészáros.

The 4K digital version is presented by the Hungarian National Film Fund – Film Archive, which restored the film in the Hungarian National Film Fund – Film Lab, using the original camera negative and the original magnetic sound. The digital grading was overseen by the original director of photography Lajos Koltai (HSC, Hungarian Society of Cinematographers).

“I am especially pleased to be presenting Adoption, the magnum opus of one of Europe’s greatest female directors, in immaculate picture and sound quality. Márta Mészáros was a pioneer of auteur films, and her work inspired not least of all many of the German women filmmakers whom we are honouring in this year’s Retrospective”, says Rainer Rother, head of the Retrospective section and artistic director of the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen.

Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer (1889–1968) can be counted among the leading lights of European cinema. His minimalist black-and-white film Ordet (The Word) is distinguished by its free-flowing camerawork and masterly lighting. The film is based on the play of the same name by Lutheran priest Kaj Munk. It is the saga of a farming family in Denmark’s rural Jutland. Conflict over issues of religion and rationalism develops between the patriarch and his three sons when the youngest makes plans to marry a woman of a different denomination.

The film won the Golden Lion at the 1955 Venice Film Festival, as well as one of the Golden Globes for Best Foreign Language Film for that same year. The new digital restoration by the Danish Film Institute was based on a digitised version made by the Palladium production company in 2008, which scanned the original camera negative in 2K. Greatly improved digital restoration techniques have now made it possible to more completely touch up damages and scratches transferred in the first digitisation, so that the film’s original brilliant visuals could be restored. The film was then re-mastered in 4K.

The first Berlinale Classics films

Ordet (The Word)
by Carl Theodor Dreyer, Denmark 1955
World premiere of the digitally restored version
in 4K DCP

Örökbefogadás (Adoption)
by Márta Mészáros, Hungary 1975
World premiere of the digitally restored version
in 4K DCP

Die Sieger (The Invincibles), Director’s Cut 
by Dominik Graf, Germany 1994
World premiere of the digitally restored version
in 4K DCP

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