© Piffl Medien GmbH

Peter Handke – Bin im Wald, Kann sein, dass ich mich verspäte
Germany 2016

Opening 10 Nov 2016

Directed by: Corinna Belz
Writing credits: Corinna Belz

Peter Handke, born in 1942 in Austria, is one of the most successful authors living today. After sojourns in Germany, France, and the U.S., as well as extended journeys to all parts of the world, he is now an elderly, grey-haired gentleman, quietly settled in his home on the outskirts of Paris. Director Belz follows him for 89 minutes as Handke sharpens pencils (he only writes by hand, no computer or electric typewriter), collects shells, peels mushrooms, or embroiders a blanket. During these activities, he philosophizes about life and gives small insights into his own sense of self, such as “I don’t know myself. I can’t put it into reality. What is reality?” At the same time there are flashbacks of film material from the 1960s when Handke published his first book Die Hornisse in 1966, or spoke out against fellow authors in Princeton during the well-published meeting of Group 47. In these early years he appears in his trademark dark glasses and his early Beatles haircut. Now, he says, he has “become more peaceful with age.”

The film, like Handke himself, is very quiet with little musical background; it is basically a Handke monologue. His wife and two daughters appear; there is reference to his childhood in a small Austrian village and, later, the suicide of his mother. He talks about writing the film script for director Wim Wenders’ False Bewegung in 1975 or a book Chronik der laufende Ereignisse from 1971. Peter Handke can afford this understatement about himself, which is quite obvious after a quick research, e.g., in Wikipedia, which brings forth a virtual explosion of literary accomplishments: novels, plays, essays, film scripts, as well as translations of other authors from English, French, Slovakian, and even old Greek into German, not to mention many prizes, awards and honorary recognition in the world of literature and film. See this film. If you are a Handke fan, you will learn more about him; if you know nothing, this is an excellent opportunity to educate yourself about a major world author. (Becky Tan)

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