The catalogue described the film thus:
A portrait of a woman’s life between 1915 and 1975, in Jutta Brücker’s documentary, her mother looks back at the 60 years of her life . . .
In fact, I felt that this was only part of the film and most notable in the early stage. This in part due to the style and content that is used,
An ingenious collage of picture and sound accompanies the mother’s narrative, a tapestry of proverbs [as in the title], pop songs, marching music , and the noise of war.
Jutta’s mother provides much of the narration, some of it personal some of it commentary on the incidents displayed. The picture that emerges if a complex interaction between one life and the broader social canvas.
This is less a criticism that noting how the film works. The key element are family photographs together with 100s of photographs taken by August Sander between 1901 and the 1940s; and more recent photographs by other artists. This is effectively a montage as is the soundtrack. Black and white photographs, when handled effe3ctively, are powerfully resonant of their subjects.
The film does generate a sense of the mother’s milieu, lower-middle class, but at the same time takes in other classes and situations, both of the bourgeoisie and of the proletariat. As the Brochure adds,
references that transcend the personal.
The photographs are well chosen, Sander has become a famous artist in more recent years. The sixty years of the film, [presented in 62 minutes], contain some of the most dramatic and tragic events in modern German history. And the series develops a real sense of the times and the people involved.
Jutta Brückner was there to introduce her film. Her project was decided before she was able to develop an effective form. There were only limited photographs from her family. The discovery of Sander’s photographs enabled her to broaden the narrative into the social and historical area. She remarked that when she made the film Sander was not well known. This meant that she was able to acquire access to the photographs at a low rate. She reckoned now that he has an international reputation the photographs would be beyond any likely budget.
The film was shot on 16mm and in black and white academy. So there is little reframing of the photographs. We watched a digital version restored by Deutsche Kinemathek in 2016. Like most of the digital versions at the Festival it looked fine. Note, IMDB has another German film with the same title from 1976, but with little detail.
The main feature was preceded by a 16mm black and white short documentary, The Father (Der Fater, 1986). [The change in formats was something that the projection team handled with aplomb]. This was a compilation of films shot by the director’s father who was doctor based in Shanghai in the 1930s. The home movies also included Egypt and India. The film was intercut by colour film shot by the director, Christine Noll Brinkmann. I did not find these particularly revealing though the aim was,
to make the father’s footage speak, so it would reveal its meaning to the daughter
But the footage of Europeans benefiting from a colonial situation was interesting.