‘A Time to Love and a Time to Die’ screens at Cinematheque

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The Cinematheque screening of “A Time to Love and a Time to Die” was held on Sept. 15. at the Alan and Elaine Armer Theatre.

The screening started at 7 p.m. with an introduction by John Schultheiss, professor and chair of the Cinema and Television Arts Department.

“Good evening and welcome to yet another theatrical moment,” Schultheiss said.

The event was reserved primarily for CTVA majors, but there was seating available for outsiders who wished to attend the screening. Students who attended the screening received credit for CTVA 210 and 319.

Prior to the screening, Schultheiss gave a 30-minute course lecture, including a brief synopsis of the featured film.

“It’s an overview of authorship and the cultural politics of film criticism,” Schultheiss said.

Schultheiss said that the purpose of screening of “A Time to Love and a Time to Die,” was to use it as a paradigm-as a critical methodology.

A Time to Love and a Time to Die, starring John Gavin and Liselotte Pulver, is a WWII dedication. The setting began in the Russian-German Front (1944).

Gavin plays Ernst Graeber, a German soldier who falls in love with the daughter of a Jewish doctor, the personal physician of Graeber’s mother. Pulver plays the role of Elizabeth Kruse, Dr. Kruse’s daughter.

In Graeber’s effort to look for his parents after the destruction of their home, he stumbles upon Elizabeth, who was also in search for her father. They fall in love and get married.

The biggest turning point, or so it seems, was when Graeber returns to combat and gets killed by an alleged guerrilla whom he rescued from being fired at by a fellow German soldier. That concluding scene becomes the ultimate irony.

Schultheiss said critics have chosen Douglas Sirk’s movies for cinema review because of the ‘melodramatic’ points of view they hold.

He also mentioned that Sirk’s works have been cited distinctively because of the imitation of life of family connection and unity.

“It’s a family melodrama in the sense of imitation of life, where the domestic middle-class family in America will be the focus of the analysis in the midst of a cold-war misguided complacency, and Sirk is going to sort of deconstruct those values-a test of great passion and emotionalism,” Schultheiss said.

Schultheiss also emphasized the term ‘melo.’

“It’s an idea derived from silent cinema, where the music is part of how they react, in a sense giving us the tone of the visual,” said Schultheiss.

He said Sirk’s reliance on music is a self-conscious technique for hyped conflict and venture, meaning the director is highly stylizing his way of producing drama.

“Innocence and subjective danger painting some kind of seduction and deliverance,” Schultheiss said.

Schultheiss further critiqued Sirk’s art of filmmaking.

“More interesting is his sense of ‘irony,’ because he said your character has to remain innocent of what your picture is after. So there’s always that ironic tension of how characters see themselves versus their own belief.”

Sirk is one of 20th Century’s greatest “ironists,” Schultheiss said. He also said Sirk’s films convey a sense of fatalism and pessimism.

“This movie sort of employed hope and apprehension, because of where the characters live-limiting and restricting their options,” Schultheiss said.

He also analyzed the reason why Sirk chose to title the movie: “A Time to Love…” as opposed to “A Time to Live…”

Schultheiss said Sirk chose the word ‘love’ over ‘live’ because he thought that ‘love’ would be less jaded and would admirably go hand in hand with “and a Time to Die.”

Jean-Luc Godard, film critic and director, in his review of the 1959 Universal-International motion picture questioned Sirk’s choice of word. Godard asked, “Should one live to love, or love to live?”

“The delirious mixture of medieval and modern, sentimentality and subtlety,” Godard said, is what enchanted him about Sirk’s film.

One of the greatest catches from Douglas’ films is a tragic, not-so-desirable ending. And that’s exactly how A Time to Love and a Time to Die wrapped things up.

Jelly Mae Jadraque can be reached at ane@sundial.csun.edu.