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 "Yesterday Girl" Review 
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Alexandra Kluge, Hans Korte, Palma Falck, Hans Brammer, Ado Riegler
Alexander Kluge
87 Mins.

The flagship film of the "Young German Cinema" movement of the early 70's, this 1966 film from Alexander Kluge is being brought wondrously back to life thanks to the fine folks at FACETS DVD in Chicago as part of their rather stunning series of DVD releases devoted to the extraordinary German filmmaker including his feature length and short films.

Produced immediately after the Oberhausen Manifesto, Yesterday Girl is a bit of an experimental film, a youth-oriented and darkly satirical look at one young woman, Anita G. (Alexandra Kluge, the filmmaker's sister and frequent collaborator), who is trying to break free from the dark shadows of her parents generation by moving from East Germany to West Germany. This ill-fated move quickly leads to her arrest for the theft of a sweater, her subsequent incarceration and her struggles to remove yesterday from the today of her existence.

A nominee for the Golden Lion and winner of a Special Jury Prize at the 1966 Venice Film Festival, Yesterday Girl in many ways gave credibility and empowerment to the burgeoning German cinema's renaissance after the cultural devastation that accompanied the holocaust and the complete and utter decimation of Germany's reputation in virtually all aspects of daily life.

Yet, Yesterday Girl is not so simple as to merely be a "moving on" film. On the contrary, Kluge brilliantly brings out just how difficult it is, perhaps impossible, to separate the past from the present from the future. Similar in tone to the films of Resnais, specifically Night and Fog, Yesterday Girl is really a contemplative essay on the architectural and cultural memories that remain woven throughout our collective subconscious no matter how intentionally we attempt to move past them in ways both tangible and intangible.

In extremely simplistic terms, Kluge is implying that such "moving on" isn't really possible. The events and memories of our lives stay with us, impacting our actions and providing us pre-determined events and consequences long after we may truly believe we have moved on.

As Anita, Alexandra Kluge is simply stunning, a youthful blend of energy and enthusiasm, determination and rebellion wrapped by an ever increasing world weariness as time and again her actions are seemingly irrelevant and her future is determined for her. Despite, in her own estimation, not having been directly influenced by the holocaust, Anita's freedom, independence, success and dreams continue to be influenced by the events that unfolded generations ago.

While her bid for freedom is heartfelt and enthusiastic, it becomes clear in the film's 87-minute run time that Kluge believes that the destruction of the soul of Germany would continue to reveal itself for years to come and would inflict itself upon generations of unsuspecting young people.

The FACETS DVD release also includes two of Kluge's critically acclaimed short films, Brutality in Stone and An Experiment in Love along with a news clip from the 1966 Venice Film Festival. Filmed in black and white, fullscreen in German with English subtitles, Yesterday Girl further blossoms due to the stellar camera work of Edgar Reitz and Thomas Mauch along with Kluge's open incorporation of relevant German architecture that serves as a stark contrast to Germany's stated commitment toward becoming a more free, tolerant society.

The first of over a year's worth of DVD releases to feature Kluge's work, more information about Yesterday Girl  and the Alexander Kluge series can be obtained at the FACETS Home Video website.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic
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