The artists in the big top: at a loss

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Original title The artists in the big top: at a loss
Country of production Federal Republic of Germany
original language German
Publishing year 1968
length 103 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
Director Alexander Kluge
script Alexander Kluge
production Kairos film ( Alexander Kluge )
music Viviane Gomóri
Hellmuth Löffler
camera Günther Hörmann
Thomas Mauch
cut Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus

The artists in the big top: perplexed is an award-winning feature film by Alexander Kluge . It premiered on August 30, 1968 at the Venice International Film Festival .


The artist Manfred Peickert wants to persuade his director to do an unprecedented number of elephants, but before that he dies by falling from a trapeze. His daughter Leni intends to implement the new project in her own reform circus. She consults with her friend Dr. Bush, but the plans fail due to lack of money.

However, when Leni inherits a fortune, the project seems doable. But the closer the premiere gets, the more insecure Leni becomes. Eventually she liquidates the company and goes to television with her employees.


As with saying goodbye to yesterday , Kluge avoids a sequence shaped by the plot. The film begins with a montage that shows Hitler at the “Tag der Deutschen Kunst” in 1939, for which the Beatles song Yesterday is sung in Spanish. Even after that, seemingly incoherent additional documentary material is inserted, for example pictures from the circus around 1900 or the alienation of a group 47 conference as a conference of the circus owners.

According to Alexander Kluge, the film "simply resulted from a frustration with the Berlin Film Festival." His theme is "the situation in which we ourselves find ourselves, we who move on the high rope, the trapeze acts of fine arts."

For Hannelore Hoger her portrayal of Leni Peickert meant the breakthrough. In 1970, a compilation of unused material from the film was published under the title Die indomämbare Leni Peickert .


“An ingenious montage, the initially confusing use of the sound, which overlaps from scene to scene or suddenly becomes asynchronous, the alternation of black and white recordings and color images create a vibrating tension that never lets the viewer into a passive consumerism. He must always control what is happening, deal with the problems of a utopia that fails because of the circumstances, but whose failure speaks primarily against the conditions that can be changed. "

- Reclams film guide, 5th edition, 1982

“It can be understood as a rejection of the performance principle of our society and at the same time reflects the political situation in the Federal Republic of Germany in the late 1960s and the situation of young German filmmakers. The director uses an "open" form that relies on the viewer's intellectual participation. "

“Alexander Kluge's second feature film is conceived as a dialogue with the viewer. It consists of an abundance of seemingly incoherent complexes, thought models, quotes, anecdotes, each of which reflects on different levels and under different aspects the topic, the situation and changes in art. An interesting and difficult film that challenges you to grapple with! Recommended from 18. "


Book edition

The text was published as a book, together with three other film texts, in an edition by Piper Verlag in 1968 .


  1. CineGraph - Lexicon for German-Language Films , Delivery 1
  2. ^ The artists in the big top: at a loss. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed August 24, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  3. Evangelischer Presseverband München, Review No. 499/1968.

Web links