“Adolf Hitler became Reichskanzler on January thirtieth, nineteen thirty-three. The Weimar Republic had run out of time, und das Land der Dichter und Denker was about to sink into barbarism. I barely paid attention when those criminals took over. I was busy making movies.”
“He came into my room one night, woke me from a deep sleep, and told me he changed the title of the movie. Now he wanted to call it Twenty-Twelve, Or The Hair-Raising Adventures of Captain Darius Silko, Heir of Mulberry Island and Leader of His Legendary Crew of Anti-Corporate Pirates of the Gaia II and Their Friends and Protectors, the Noble Mayan Nation of Xunantanich and Their Spiritual Descendents.”
Marty paused, waiting for a response. “That’d be hard to fit on a poster,” Mina said.
Anyway, the movie.
I don’t know what I expected, honestly. Something ponderous and silent, German expressionism or whatever. It started with the logo I’d already sort of seen in our apartment, holding the film up to the kitchen lights. Then, a pair of huge eyes: a close-up of a little girl, staring straight into the camera. Her father, who we don’t see, Peanuts-style, is reading her a bedtime story. The cover of the book he’s reading from supplies the title credit: Tulpendiebe.
"I was at Paramount at the time, and there had been disaster after disaster. Cleopatra almost bankrupted Fox, TV was taking over. We were desperate. We were willing to try anything. Cinerama, 3-D, Smell-O-Vision–why not Kino?”
David Bordwell, The Wayward Charms of Cinerama.
The Buccaneer (Anthony Quinn, 1958)
“Love! Revenge! Adventure!” the box proclaimed. “Swashbuckling!” The beginning of the film reminded Mina of Tulpendiebe: there were images of a port city on a Caribbean island, and a title card announced: “Santa Lupe, Anno 1835.” Cut to an imposing pirate ship anchored in a nearby inlet, where Captain Darius Silko and his motley crew of sea dogs are celebrating on the beach, passing rum and grilled meat between them, climbing on trees and roughhousing drunkenly in the turquoise surf.
Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!
When winter came, the Oberlins, my landlords, began heating the building with buckets of last week’s money like everybody else. Germany’s undernourished children died of tuberculosis and war veterans dragged themselves through the streets begging for a bite of stale bread or a ladle of cabbage soup.
As the steam engine prowled through the night, I felt a surge of freedom that I hadn’t felt in years. We were leaving everything behind: the Nazis, the dead father, the war, and the insipid operettas. We’d sold our house and the cars. I would never see Neubabelsberg again–Hollywood lay ahead. Penelope, too, glowed with excitement.
From Kino. Photos by Meaghan Walsh Gerard.
Sam and Mina had attended peace rallies and marches even before the invasion, and they had kept up with arguments against the government’s shifting rationales. They knew not to trust Colin Powell and the New York Times. The night the bombing started, Sam had come home to find Mina crying in front of the TV, where Shock and Awe glared in the night sky over Baghdad.