Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Oh, the Depravity! The Cinema of Erich von Stroheim

What remains of an artist, his career, or his work, after having endured so many detours, disappointments, and derailings? Titles changed, credit revoked, productions halted, scenes reshot by other directors, and the humiliation of being thrown off the set of your own movie. These are but a smattering of the setbacks encountered by Erich von Stroheim throughout his directorial career, which began with a bang in 1919 and ended with a whimper in 1933 with a film that bore no mention of his name. All of this makes von Stroheim’s status as an auteur at once obvious and problematic. Few directors before him were as gung-ho about artistry and authorship (his name proliferates the credits of his films, leaving no question as to whom is the true creator); fewer dared to cause the scandals that he did, pushing the buttons of censors and studios past the point of compromise; and no one had their films as distorted (sometimes released incomplete) as Erich von Stroheim...

Read my full essay "Oh, the Depravity! The Cinema of Erich von Stroheim" here at Not Coming to a Theater Near You.

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