Cinematic Arias

Published May 5, 2012

The late German filmmaker Werner Schroeter never tired of exploring his many passions—often all at once, with his muses (Candy Darling, Isabelle Huppert) inhabiting lushly colored fusions of music, melodrama, and kitsch. This month, two years after his death at age 65, the Museum of Modern Art presents a 40-film retrospective of the influential director’s work (Fassbinder was an early admirer). “Schroeter was fascinated by the force and fragility of divas throughout the ages,” says MoMA curator Joshua Siegel, “from Maria Callas to Janis Joplin”—not to mention his own beloved superstar Magdalena Montezuma, who plays the legendary mezzo-soprano in The Death of Maria Malibran (1972) as well as Huppert, who delivers haunting performances in Malina (1991) and Deux (2002). Also recommended: Schroeter’s rarely screened experimental collages and his 1986 potboiler The Rose King, which Siegel cites as “surely one of the most erotic films ever made.”