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Robert van Ackeren

Belcanto oder Darf eine Nutte schluchzen? (Belcanto)

Director Robert van Ackeren Composer Wolfgang Wölfer Cast Nikolaus Dutsch, Romy Haag, Udo Kier
Edition 1981
94' - 1977 - Drama - Dialogue: German
BELCANTO is one of the finest examples of the production standards of the "Literarisches Colloquium - Berlin": the encouragement of young filmmakers who want to film literary works without neglecting the literary and cinematographic means of expression. BELCANTO is the film version of Heinrich Mann's book: "Empfang bei der Welt", one of his last works, written in Hollywood, at a time when Heinrich Mann was forgotten by everyone. The novel is full of examples of Mann's cynical view of the world. Robert Van Ackeren's approach to the book is not along the lines of classic narrative; the filmmaker is more interested in effects, stylisation and artificial salon photography: a truly Mannerist film - in the good sense of the word. One can even speak of an extreme theatricalisation here. The characters stylise the traditional acting art that is still rarely seen in opera houses - the film is set in an opera house. And what the characters say is nothing but disgusting intrigues, in the name of culture (with a big C), noble money and the parasites of high society.

BELCANTO is an amazing film, incredibly sophisticated, in short it is difficult to make a more morbid film. It proves that the anger of young people in the Federal Republic has deeper roots than one might think: it is more than the simple rejection of a consumer society. BELCANTO tells us about Arthur, the director of an opera. One evening, he invites representatives of the financial, worldly and artistic worlds to clean up the opera and himself in one fell swoop. What is then presented as an attempt at spiritual renewal soon proves to be an unrealistic undertaking. The people present are full of hypocrisy. The intention to give themselves and culture a new shine collapses before it has even started. Some will pay in vain, others do not even want to use their powers. Still others can neither generate publicity nor scandal: the singers have lost their beautiful voices, the girls of pleasure have changed their ways. The illusion no longer holds.

Image gallery

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Robert van Ackeren


Wolfgang Wölfer


Nikolaus Dutsch, Romy Haag, Udo Kier


Robert van Ackeren, Joy Markert

Director of Photography

Jürgen Wagner


Bernd-Rüdiger Zöhnel


Robert van Ackeren

More info



Countries of production

West Germany

Screenplay based on

"Empfang bei der Welt" (Heinrich Mann)