Zulu Dawn

Zulu Dawn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Zulu dawn

film poster by Tom Chantrell
Directed by Douglas Hickox
Produced by Nate Kohn
James Sebastian Faulkner
Written by Cy Endfield
Anthony Story
Starring Peter O’Toole
Burt Lancaster
John Mills
Simon Ward
Denholm Elliott
Michael Jayston
Ronald Pickup
Bob Hoskins
Ronald Lacey
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Cinematography Ousama Rawi
Editing by Malcolm Cooke
Distributed by American Cinema Releasing
Release date(s)
  • May 15, 1979
Running time 115 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Zulu Dawn is a 1979 war film about the historical Battle of Isandlwana between British and Zulu forces in 1879 in South Africa. The screenplay was by Cy Endfield, from his book, and Anthony Story. The film was directed by Douglas Hickox. The score was composed by Elmer Bernstein.

Zulu Dawn is a prequel to Zulu, released in 1964, which depicts the historical Battle of Rorke’s Drift later the same day, and was written and co-directed by Cy Endfield.


The film is set in British South Africa, in the province of Natal, in January 1879. The first act of the film revolves around the administrators and officials of Cape Colony, notably the supremely arrogant Lord Chelmsford and the scheming Sir Henry Bartle Frere, who both wish to crush the neighbouring Zulu Empire, which is perceived as a threat to Cape Colony’s emerging industrial economy. Bartle Frere issues an impossible ultimatum to the Zulu king, Cetshwayo, demanding that he dissolve the Zulu Empire. Cetshwayo refuses, providing Cape Colony with a pretext to invade Zululand. Despite objections from leading members of Cape Colony’s high society and from Great Britain itself, Bartle Frere authorises Lord Chelmsford to lead a British invasion force into Zululand.

The rest of the film focuses on the British invasion of Zululand and the lead-up to the Battle of Isandlwana. The invading British army, laden with an immense network of supply wagons, invades Zululand and marches in the direction of Ulundi, the Zulu capital. British forces, eager to fight a large battle in which they can unleash their cutting-edge military technology against the vast Zulu army, become increasingly frustrated as the main Zulu army refuses to attack the British, and fighting is restricted to a few small skirmishes between British and Zulu scouts. Concerned that their supply lines are becoming overstretched and that the main Zulu army is still at large, British troops begin torturing captive Zulu warriors in an effort to learn the location and tactics of the Zulu army. Halfway to Ulundi, Chelmsford halts his army at the base of Mount Isandhlwana, ignoring the advice of Boer attendants to entrench the camp and laager the supply wagons, leaving the camp dangerously exposed. During the night, Colonel Durnford and an escort of fifty mounted Basutos approach the camp. Lord Chelmsford then orders Durnford to return to his unit, bringing them to the camp immediately to reinforce Colonel Pulleine. Lt. Vereker should join Durnford as aide-de-camp.

Reacting to false intelligence, Chelmsford leads half of the British army, including the best infantrycavalry and artillery units, on awild goose chase far from the camp, in pursuit of a phantom Zulu army. On the day of battle, Durnford and his troops arrive at 11:00 a.m. at the camp at Isandlwana. Meanwhile, the Zulu captives escape their torturers and regroup with the Zulu army, informing them of the British army’s direction and strength. After having lunch with Colonel Pulleine and Lt. Vereker, Durnford quickly decides to send Vereker to scout the hills. Durnford then decides to take his own command out from the camp too, and scout the iNyoni heights.

The entire Zulu army is later discovered by men of Lt. Vereker’s troop of scouts. Chasing a number of Zulu herdsmen trying to hurry away their cattle, they discover the main Zulu enemy force of thousands at the bottom of a valley. Lt. Vereker sends Lt. Raw to warn the camp that it is about to be attacked.

As Zulu impis descend upon the camp, Durnford’s cavalry retreat to a donga in an effort to hold back the Zulu advance. Forced back, the British take heavy casualties, including the battery of Congreve rockets, which is overrun by the Zulus. Initially, the British infantry succeed in defending the camp, and Zulu forces retreat under a hail of artillery fire. British units defending the camp are now becoming dangerously spread-out, and are oblivious to Zulu forces moving round the sides of the mountain in an encircling move. As British infantrymen begin to run out of ammunition due to the Quartermaster’s incompetent distribution and the British cavalry are driven back towards the camp, Zulu warriors charge the British troops en masse, sustaining horrific casualties, but succeed in breaking the British lines.

As British troops break and flee towards the camp, the battle breaks down into hand-to-hand fighting between British soldiers and Zulu warriors, amongst the débris of tents, fallen soldiers and supply wagons. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of Zulu warriors, British soldiers and their Afrikaans allies are slaughtered in the camp, some being cut down as they attempt to flee towards Natal. During the last minutes of the battle, the camp’s commander, Colonel Pulleine, entrusts the Queen’s Colours of the 2nd battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot to two junior officers, Lts. Melvill and Coghill, who attempt to carry them to safety in Natal, passing gruesome scenes as Zulu warriors hunt down British and African infantrymen attempting to flee across the river.

While crossing the Buffalo River, the three lieutenants are cut down by Zulus and the Colours (a Union Flag embroidered with the Regiment’s insignia) are captured. Lying wounded, perhaps mortally, Vereker shoots and kills the Zulu wielding the Colours, and the Colours fall gracefully into the river, where they are carried out of reach.

In the evening, Chelmsford and the rest of the British army return to Isandlwana, to be greeted by the sight of their slaughtered comrades, and the news that a mass Zulu army has invaded Natal and laid siege to Rorke’s Drift. The film ends with Zulu warriors in a silhouetted victory procession, dragging captured British artillery back to Ulundi.



  • Peter O’TooleLord Chelmsford. The arrogant commander of British forces in South Africa, Chelmsford is eager to advance his military career by crushing neighbouring Zululand, believing that “for the savage as for the child, chastisement is sometimes a blessing”. During the invasion, Chelmsford refuses to listen to advice from his British andBoer advisers, and from the comfort of his tent and personal coach, authorises his troops to torture Zulu captives. On the day of the battle, Chelmsford commits a cardinal error in splitting his forces. While the troops at Isandlwana fight for their lives, Chelmsford and his equally arrogant officers, a few miles away, enjoy a silver-service luncheon. Chelmsford is last seen arriving at the site of the battle several hours later, mortified by the defeat of his soldiers, absorbing the news that the victorious Zulu army has invaded Natal.

Chelmsford’s arrogance was mixed with incompetence as he left unclear instructions to those left behind at Isandlwana including which officer was in charge, Durnford or Pulleine. Chelmsford would later lay the blame for the disaster on Colonel Durnford.

  • Burt LancasterColonel Durnford. Commander of a large force of the Natal Native Contingent (NNC), Britain’s African allies, Durnford is a humane officer who expresses concern for the lives and welfare of his African troops. When war breaks out, Durnford, much to his chagrin, is ordered to remain in Natal and defend the border rather than accompany the invasion force. His troops are ultimately called to reinforce the invasion army, and on the day of battle, Durnford and his African cavalrymen are driven into the camp at Isandlwana. As the British forces break apart, the one-armed Durnford becomes trapped in the camp. Hoping to save his men, Durnford orders his African cavalrymen to retreat. Remaining on foot at the battlefield, Durnford is killed alongside his infantrymen.

Durnford would later be painted by Chelmsford as the scape-goat for the disaster.

  • Simon WardLt. William Vereker. A young officer who has recently attached to Durnford’s command, Vereker is a light-hearted cavalry officer eager to see war. Vereker’s enthusiasm, though, evaporates as he sees Zulu warriors tortured and slain by British troops. Vereker and his men discover the main Zulu army on the morning of the battle, and as British lines collapse, Vereker accompanies Lts. Melvill and Coghill in an effort to return the Queen’s Colours to Natal. Zulu warriors attack and kill Melvill and Coghill, and seize the Colours. Vereker, despite his injuries, takes aim with his rifle and shoots the Zulu wielding the Colours, ensuring that they fall into the Buffalo River, where they float downstream. Vereker’s fate remains unknown.
  • Denholm ElliottColonel Pulleine. A mild-mannered man, Pulleine is a military bureaucrat who accompanies the army into Zululand, and finds himself left in command of the camp at Isandlwana after Chelmsford leaves on a sortie. News of the approaching Zulu army unnerves Pulleine, and his overstretched troops are unable to defend the camp. After having entrusted the Union Flag to Lts. Melvill and Coghill, Pulleine returns to his tent to pen a last letter to his wife. He is discovered by an escaped Zulu prisoner and, unwilling to shoot the young soldier, the elderly Pulleine is killed in his tent.
  • James Sebastian FaulknerLieutenant Melvill. Portrayed as an arrogant and overconfident man, when a lone Zulu warrior calls from the mountain asking why British forces are invading, Melvill replies, “we come here by the order of the great Queen Victoria, Queen of all Africa!” Towards the end of the battle, Melvill carries the Queen’s Colours back towards Natal, bypassing British infantrymen being killed as they flee towards the river. Melvill reaches the river border between Zululand and Natal, but is speared by Zulu warriors while defending the flag.
  • Christopher CazenoveLieutenant Coghill. A polite and humorous young officer, Coghill is temporarily attached to Colonel Pulleine’s staff, due to an injured leg which requires him to ride on horseback. Coghill has a close friendship with Lt. Melvill, and during the invasion he expresses dissatisfaction at Chelmsford’s strategy. Towards the end of the battle, Coghill accompanies Melvill in his attempt to escort the Queen’s Colours back to Natal. When Melvill nearly drowns while trying to cross the Buffalo River, Coghill turns to help him, but they are ambushed by Zulu warriors. Coghill tries to defend the flag with his revolver, but is killed.
  • Bob HoskinsColour Sergeant-Major Williams. The loud, aggressive Williams, a high-ranking NCO, is both feared and respected by his troops, but displays genuine concern, taking the young Private Williams under his wing. During the battle, Williams loses many of his infantrymen during hand-to-hand fighting, and is injured while defending a group of unarmed artillerymen. Williams is stabbed in the back while attempting to rescue Private Williams, and having killed several Zulu soldiers with his bayonet, dies amid a large wave of Zulus.
  • Peter VaughanQuartermaster Bloomfield. An elderly and jovial war veteran who claims to have been the bugler for the Duke of Wellington, Bloomfield is a military administrator responsible for overseeing the invasion force’s supply network. Bloomfield takes a young bugler, Boy Pullen, under his wing, but his compassion does not extend to the NNC’s black soldiers, who he sees as little more than savage animals. During the battle, Bloomfield refuses to bypass regulations requiring that ammunition be dispensed in small, properly recorded quantities, causing an ammunition shortage that forces British troops to retreat. Bloomfield is injured when his ammunition wagon explodes, which kills Boy Pullen, and is himself killed when a Zulu warrior impales him from behind.
  • Michael JaystonColonel Crealock. An officer of the Royal Artillery and lickspittle to his commander, Colonel Crealock acts as Lord Chelmsford’s secretary, constantly expressing his agreement with Chelmsford’s decisions. He accompanies Chelmsford’s expedition away from Isandhlwana, and is seen idly sketching the landscape. When questioned by Newman on the logic of splitting the British army, Crealock acidly replies that the Zulus’ primitive weaponry does not pose any real threat. When Lieutenant Harford relays news from Isandhlwana with an urgent request for reinforcements, Crealock lectures Harford on military etiquette, and does nothing to facilitate the request. Crealock is last seen with Chelmsford after returning to the devastated camp, bringing news of an ongoing battle at Rorke’s Drift and a Zulu invasion of Natal.
  • Ronald PickupLieutenant Harford. A well-meaning officer of the NNC, Harford distinguishes himself from his colleagues through his concern for his African soldiers, and is appalled by his superior’s lack of concern for the lives of native workers, and by Chelmsford’s casual attitude to the torture of Zulu captives. On the day of the battle, Harford accompanies Chelmsford’s column. During the early stages of the battle, a rider dispatched by Colonel Pulleine to catch up with Chelmsford’s army brings an urgent request for reinforcements. His message is ignored, and Harford is denied permission to return to Isandhlwana. He is last seen in the evening, weeping at the bodies of young soldiers.
  • Ronald LaceyNorris “Noggs” Newman. A war correspondent for The Standard, Norris-Newman accompanies the army into Zululand to report on the war. Newman is deeply critical of Chelmsford, frequently pointing out his tactical errors, making no effort to conceal his contempt for the general. Newman appears to have much more background knowledge on the Zulus than the officers, and expresses sympathy for the Zulus who stand little chance against Western warfare. Newman accompanies Chelmsford’s expedition and is last seen with Chelmsford, staring at the devastation of the battlefield.
  • John MillsSir Henry Bartle Frere. The British High Commissioner for South Africa who provokes the war by issuing King Cetshwayo with an impossible ultimatum. Viewing the Zulus as savage barbarians, Bartle Frere believes that the war will provide “a final solution to the Zulu problem.” Frere is last seen on the night of the British invasion, and is not seen again after this.


  • Simon SabelaKing Cetshwayo. King of Zululand, Cetshwayo is depicted as a peaceful and effective ruler, eager to avoid war but unwilling to compromise Zululand’s security by agreeing to Bartle Frere’s ultimatum. Cetshwayo is concerned that mobilising his armies will leave a chronic labour shortage, and is eager to defeat the British army in time for his soldiers to return and gather the harvest. Cetshwayo is last seen in his kraal at Ulundi, reluctantly announcing a state of war between Zululand and Cape Colony.
  • Ken GampuMantshonga. A Zulu regarded as a traitor by Cetshwayo because of his support for a rival claimant to the Zulu throne, Mantshonga delivers him the British ultimatum to Cetshwayo and returns his response.
  • Abe TembaUhama. A leading general and strongman in the Zulu army, Uhama masterminds various schemes to confuse British forces, using scouts to gain intelligence on the British army, and small raiding parties to confuse their scouts on the whereabouts of Zulu impis. Uhama realises he must overwhelm the British while they are exposed and vulnerable; and that an open battle would result in a crushing Zulu defeat. He keeps his impis hidden, allowing the invaders to progress deep into Zululand, waiting for them to commit an error that will give the impis the opportunity to overwhelm the British before they have time to commit their technology to the battle. While chasing a Boer scout, Uhama instructs three of his warriors to allow themselves to be captured by the British, who eventually escape and advise Uhama on British weaknesses. In contrast to the British commanders, Uhama displays immense bravery, and is last seen leading his warriors into the débâcle of the British camp, where he is shot and presumably killed.
  • Gilbert TiabaneBayele. A young warrior in the Zulu army, Bayele leads several scouting missions to gain intelligence on British forces. Under orders from Uhama, Bayele allows himself to be captured by cavalrymen of the NNC, and with two other warriors, is taken to the camp at Isandhlwana. While lashed to wagon wheels, Bayele and his two comrades are tortured but only reveal false information. Bayele later uses a distraction in the camp to kill the guard and release his two comrades; the three escape to rejoin the Zulu army. Bayele takes part in the assault on the camp, and by chance finds himself face-to-face with Colonel Pulleine in the command tent. Pulleine, recognising Bayele as the tortured prisoner, is unable to shoot Bayele, and Bayele seizes the opportunity to kill him.


Despite having a large budget and being designed to complement the hugely successful film Zulu, the film was not well received and did not fare particularly well at the box office.[1]


  1. ^ “Zulu Dawn”. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-03-07.

External links[edit]

Christoph Schlingensief Bambiland

BAMBILAND – ADAPTED FROM ELFRIEDE JELINEK [ http://www.jayscheib.com/pdf_files/bimboland_comp.pdf ]

The premiere of Elfriede Jelinek’s Das Werk at Vienna’s Akademie-
theater is followed just six months later, this time at the Burgtheater itself, by the premiere of another play by the Nobel laureate: Bambiland. Bambiland has now grown into an entertainment Disney-
land that spans the globe, the media bombardment during the war in Iraq also giving it a new name: Wartainment. Everybody could take part. Everybody became a participant in this war, whether they liked it or not. It is staged by performance artist, theatre director and filmmaker Christoph Schlingensief, who was the author’s personal choice to direct Bambiland.

The oldest drama of our civilization – OUR CIVILIZATION ! – celebrates the devastating and therefore magnificent triumph of the Greeks over the Persians at Salamis – a battle in which the author, Aeschylus, had himself taken part. For his compatriots drunk with victory, the transplantation of the scene of the action, the theatre of war, to the side of the vanquished enemy was a warning not to make the enemy’s mistakes and to be wary of delusions of grandeur and megalomaniac dreams. This likewise makes Aeschylus the archetypal embedded journalist. His play is a tragedy in more than just form. This is the tragedy of a war, of all wars, and the tragedy of war reporting.

Christoph Schlingensief during a “Bambiland” staging in Vienna (Soulek)

The “Axis of the Willing” runs through BAMBILAND, US troops march through BAMBILAND. BAMBILAND is Hollywood. BAMBILAND sees Elfriede Jelinek celebrating the devastating and therefore magnificent Iraq war triumph of … of, well, who, in fact? She quotes from Aeschylus’ THE PERSIANS and provocatively reverses the “Axis”. Instead of reporting the war from the view of the victims (which victims?), BAMBILAND employs the camera perspective of the frontline observers and of those who observe the observers – us. How the former like to boast about the balanced nature of their coverage, how we like to promise not to forget the losers, for all the superiority of the western world. But in fact, it’s simply nice to eavesdrop on the war while recording the victory in comfort, as well – from the passenger seat in a tank, from the TV couch. CNN & Co. Corp. switch on the lights right in the middle of hazy night-time shots of the bombardment of Baghdad. We are right in the thick of things, having ourselves finally become “embedded”, we are participants with the big picture at our disposal: WELCOME TO BAMBILAND!

Horst Gelonneck in a “Bambiland” staging in Vienna (Image: Hilss)


Additional information on Bambiland:

– Bambiland gallery – Images from Bambiland stagings at the Burgtheater
– Elfriede Jelinek – Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek`s Official website
– Bambiland in english – Elfriede Jelinek’s Bambiland, English translation, (PDF)
– www.atta-atta.org – 1st Attaistic Exhibition (Attaistic Art from the stagings)
– “Totally confusing supposed unambiguities” – by Marion Löhndorf, Kunstforum


Book Available:

  • Title: Bambiland ; Babel : zwei Theatertexte
  • Author: Elfriede Jelinek 1946-
  • Edition: 1. Aufl..
  • Publisher: Reinbek : Rowohlt
  • Creation Date: 2004
  • Format: 270 p., [8] p. of plates : col. ill. ; 20 cm.
  • Language: German

Cinema and film/Politics/Society/Art


Edited by Tara Forrest and Anna Teresa Scheer


With a Foreword by Alexander Kluge

Distributed for Intellect Ltd
176 pages, 30 halftones 7 x 9
ISBN: 9781841503196


The work of acclaimed German artist Christoph Schlingensief spans three decades and a diverse range of fields, including, film, television, activism, opera, and theatre. Christoph Schlingensief: Art Without Borders is the first book to be published in English on Schlingensief’s groundbreaking, politically engaged body of work. Leading scholars in the field offer a critical assessment of Schlingensief’s hybrid practice, and an interview with Schlingensief himself provides the reader with insight into past and present projects. The book will be an essential resource for artists, curators, students, and academics in the fields of theater and performance studies, film studies, cultural studies, German studies, political activism, and art history.

About the Authors

Tara Forrest is Senior Lecturer in Cultual Studies, University of Technology, Sydney. Anna Teresa Scheer is a performer and director who worked at key theatres in Berlin including the Volksbuhne where Christoph Schlingensief was engaged as an in-house director. She moved back to Australia in 2007 where she is completing her MA thesis on his work.



Christoph Schlingensief Egomania 1986 AM12

Christoph Schlingensief
Egomania 1986

© Filmgalerie 451

Described by filmmaker Herbert Achternbusch as ‘filth for intellectuals’, the films of the late German artist, actor, performance artist, and film and theatre director Christoph Schlingensief (1960–2010) combine over-the-top B-movie aesthetics with a stringent critique of contemporary politics and colonialism. Schlingensief is ‘the very gifted low-budget or no-budget little brother of the great masters of New German Cinema, like Herzog, Wenders or Fassbinder’ (Georg Seeslen). He provides a fascinating link between the trash, DIY aesthetics of the punk underground with more traditional avant-garde approaches. Recently representative for the German Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale and winner of the Golden Lion for Best National Participation, Schlingensief described his films as ‘Cinema direct’ and always claimed he was ‘first and foremost a filmmaker’. With nods to the New German Cinema and Viennese Actionism, Schliengensief tackled complex themes of nation, violence and Western materialism and used his films to mobilise debates on the spread of far-right political parties acrossEurope, the politics of fear after the events of 9/11, and the legacy of the Third Reich in post-warGermany.

See the full Tate Film programme.

Presented in conjunction with the Christoph Schlingensief exhibition at theGermany Embassy London

Tate Film is sponsored by Maja Hoffmann / LUMA Foundation


Christoph Schlingensief

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Christoph Schlingensief
Nestroy 2009 (44) Christoph Schlingensief.jpg

ORF interview in Vienna, October 2009
Born Christoph Maria Schlingensief
24 October 1960
OberhausenWest Germany
Died 21 August 2010 (aged 49)
Occupation Director

Christoph Maria Schlingensief (24 October 1960, Oberhausen – 21 August 2010, Berlin[1]) was a German film and theatre director,actorartist, and author. Starting as an independent underground filmmaker, Schlingensief later began staging productions for theatres and festivals, which often were accompanied by public controversies. In the final years before his death, he also worked for theBayreuth Festival and several opera houses, establishing himself as a Regietheater artist.

Early life and education[edit]

Christoph Maria Schlingensief was born on 24 October 1960 in Oberhausen, a city in the industrial Ruhr area characterised by its predominantly Catholic population. His father was a pharmacist and his mother a pediatric nurse. As a child he worked as an altar server and already made short films with a hand-held camera.

Having passed his Abitur exams, he twice failed to gain admission to the University of Television and Film Munich. From 1981 he studied German language and literature, philosophy and art history at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, but also dabbled as a musician and finally dropped out in 1983 to work as an assistant to the experimental filmmaker Werner Nekes.[2] After working as a teacher at Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach and Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, he became a production manager on Hans W. Geißendörfer‘s TV series Lindenstraße.[3]


Already as a young man Schlingensief had organized art events in the cellar of his parents house, and local artists such as Helge Schneider or Theo Jörgensmann performed in his early short films. He considered himself a ‘provocatively thoughtful’ artist. He created numerous controversial and provocative theatre pieces as well as films, his former mentor being filmmaker and media artist Werner Nekes.


Schlingensief at the 2009 Berlinale reception, with his partner Aino Laberenz (right), Alice Waters, and Gaston Kaboré

Already Schlingensief’s debut feature film, the surreal, absurd experimental Tunguska – Die Kisten sind da! (“Tunguska – The Crates Are Delivered!”, 1984) was well received by critics. Growing up in the shadow of the New German Cinema, Schlingensief was deeply influenced by the likes of Rainer Werner Fassbinder – many members of whose stock company of actors such as Udo KierMargit CarstensenIrm Hermann or Volker Spengler became regulars in Schlingensief’s films – or Alexander Kluge, with whom he collaborated on numerous occasions. To said period of film, Schlingensief delivered both a heartfelt homage as well as the final coup de grâce with “The 120 Days of Bottrop” – starring Helmut Berger – in much the same way he dealt with German avant-garde cinema 15 years earlier with his first feature film „Tunguska – The Crates Are Delivered“ starring Alfred Edel. Drawing parallels to the work of British filmmakerDerek Jarman, “Egomania – Island without Hope” (1986) starred Kier and Tilda Swinton. Other influences include Luis BuñuelWerner Schroeter or Herbert Achternbusch – and Schlingensief’s filmic works have been compared to just as wide a range of filmmakers, fromJean-Luc Godard to Russ Meyer.

It was with his “Germany Trilogy”, consisting of “100 Years Adolf Hitler – The Last Hour in the Führerbunker”, “The German Chainsaw Massacre – The First Hour of the Reunification” and “Terror 2000 – Germany out of Control” that Schlingensief came to prominence. Since then he shaped the cultural and political discourse in Germany for more than two decades and established himself as one of the country’s most important and versatile artists. The “Germany Trilogy” deals with three turning points in 20th century German history: the first movie Hundert Jahre Adolf Hitler (“A Hundred Years of Adolf Hitler”, 1989) covers the last hours of Adolf Hitler, the second Das deutsche Kettensägenmassaker (“The German Chainsaw-Massacre”, 1990), depicts the German reunification of 1990 and shows a group of East-Germans who cross the border to visit West-Germany and get slaughtered by a psychopathic West German family with chainsaws, and the third Terror 2000 (1992) focuses on xenophobic violence after the reunification process.

One of Schlingensief’s central tactics was to call politicians’ bluff in an attempt to reveal the inanities of their “responsible” discourse, a tactic he called “playing something through to its end”. This strategy was most notable in his work Please Love Austria (alternately named Foreigners out! Schlingensiefs Container) at the time of the FPO and OVP coalition in Austria, a work which attracted international support, a media frenzy and countless debates about art practice.

In 2009, he joined the jury of the Berlin International Film Festival under Tilda Swinton.


In 1997, Schlingesief staged an art action at the documenta X exhibition in Kassel, and was arrested for carrying a placard with the words “Kill Helmut Kohl!”.[3] His exhibition “The Last Hour”, with its twisted metalwork from a crashed car, footage of a long tunnel and paparazzi pictures of Princess Diana, was in 2006 rejected by the Frieze Art Fair in London’s Regent’s Park and instead ended up in a little-known gallery space in Bethnal Green.[4] He later joined the Hauser & Wirth gallery. In 2007, the Haus der Kunst, Munich, mounted an exhibition of Schlingensief’s work; it presented African Twin Towers and short films that have been shot while the artist directed the Flying Dutchman at the Teatro Amazonas in Manaus, Brazil.[5]


Schlingensief speaking at theDeutschlandsuche 99 performance in front of the Volksbühne, 1999

In the 1990s, Schlingensief directed a series of chaotic, satirical productions at the Volksbühne theatre in Berlin. He also directed a version of Hamlet, subtitled, This is your Family, Nazi-line, which premiered in Switzerland, the so-called neutral territory equated with the Denmark of the opening line in Shakespeare’s play where there is something foul afoot. Events around the piece questioned and attacked Switzerland’s ‘neutrality’ in the face of growing racism and extreme right wing movements. It also involved former members of Neo Nazi groups, allowing them to play out their own weaknesses in the terms of the characters in the drama, and led to him founding a centre for former members to “de-brief”.

Schlingensief’s work covered a variety of media, including installation and the ubiquitous ‘talk show’ and has in many cases led to audience members leaving the theatre space with Schlingensief and his colleagues to take part in events such as Passion Impossible, Wake Up Call for Germany 1997 or Chance 2000, Vote for Yourself in which he formed his own party where anyone could become a candidate themselves in the run up to the federal election of 1998 in Germany. With his demands for people to “prove they exist” in an age of total TV coverage and “act, act, act” in the sense of becoming active not ‘actors’, his work could be considered a direct legacy ofBertolt Brecht, as it demands involvement as opposed to passivity and merely looking on as is the case in traditional text-based theatre. In an age of extreme media fatigue, his was a fresh voice albeit and undisputedly containing echoes of the past, often humorous and subversive yet never cynical. His influences included Joseph Beuys and his idea of social sculpture, and artists Allan Kaprow and Dieter Roth. At the time of his death, he was involved in productions for theRuhrtriennale[6] and for the Berlin Staatsoper’s “Metanoia”.[7]


In 2004, at the invitation of Wolfgang and Katharina Wagner and to rave reviews,[8] he staged Richard Wagner‘s Parsifal for the Bayreuth Festival. When he accepted the Wagner family’s invitation, it caused surprise because of his iconoclasm and his well-known aversion to all things tainted by association with Hitler; however, he had been invited to the festival before in 1991.[9] Film clips and costumes focused the action on the conflict between Christianity and Islam. The production, in the first years conducted by Pierre Boulez, was revived in 2005 and 2006, but unlike other Bayreuth Festival stagings it was not filmed.

In his last productions, such as the fluxus oratorio Church of Fear and the ready made opera Mea culpa, he staged his own cancer experience,[10] and related it to his first ‘stage experience’ as a young altar boy.

Opera Village[edit]

Schlingensief’s commitment to developing nations later took him to Burkina Faso, where he was awarded a concession to build an opera house, arguably his most ambitious project.[11] The project, which received funding from the German government,[6] was also to include a theater and film school, and an infirmary.[2] Construction began in January 2010, near Ouagadougou, and was later continued under the guidance of Schlingensief’s wife and long-time assistant Aino Laberenz, whom he married in 2009.[3] In 2012, numerous internationally renowned artists have donated works for a fundraising auction at the Hamburger Bahnhof, among them Marina AbramovicPipilotti RistGeorg Baselitz,ChristoOlafur EliassonAndreas GurskyWolfgang Tillmans, and Günther UeckerPatti Smith, a friend of Schlingensief for many years, contributed a drawing that she made in the summer of 2010 during a joint exhibition in Munich.


Wikinews has related news:German director Christoph Schlingensief dies at age 49

After learning he had lung cancer in early 2008,[6] Schlingensief wrote about his illness and in 2009 published “Heaven Could Not Be as Beautiful as Here: A Cancer Diary.”[2] Also, he already organised part of his estate and entrusted it for archiving to the Berlin Academy of the Arts. He died on August 21, 2010 in Berlin, Germany at age 49.[12] In a note to his death in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Literature Nobel Prize Laureate Elfriede Jelinek wrote: “Schlingensief was one of the greatest artists who ever lived. I always thought one like him can not die. It is as if life itself would be dead. He was not really a stage director (in spite of Bayreuth and Parsifal), he was everything: he was the artist as such. He has coined a new genre that has been removed from each classification. There will be nobody like him.”[13]

Venice Biennale[edit]

In 2011, the jury of the 54th Venice Biennale awarded the international exhibition’s highest honor, the “Golden Lion for best national pavilion”, to Germany for its display of work by Christoph Schlingensief.[14] Organized by curator Susanne Gaensheimer, who completed the exhibition after Schlingensief’s death,[15] the German pavilion was transformed into a replica of the church where the artist spent his teenage years as an altar boy in order to present “Fluxus Oratorio,” the second of his three-part final work, created after he had undergone surgery to remove a lung. The exhibition presented multimedia documents — from videos to x-rays — relating to his battle with terminal cancer. A side room showed footage and a maquette made as part of Schlingensief’s project to build an opera house in Burkina Faso, while another wing displayed a selection of films from throughout his career.[14] In an interview with Berliner Zeitung, artist Gerhard Richter had previously criticised Schlingensief’s appointment as “a scandal”, associating the selection of the multitasking director with “the decline of painting.”[16]



  • 1990–1993 he directed a series of films known as the Germany-trilogy.
  • 1993 he directed his first stage piece “100 Years of CDU ” at the Volksbühne Berlin
  • 1994 Kuhnen “94, Bring Me the Head of Adolf Hitler! at the Volksbühne Berlin
  • 1996 Director of the movie United Trash
  • 1996 Rocky Dutschke at the Volksbühne Berlin
  • 1997 My Felt, My Fat, My Hare, 48 Hours Survival for Germany (Dokumenta X, Kassel)
  • 1997 Passion Impossible, Wake Up Call For Germany, Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg and Station Mission for the Homeless
  • 1998 Chance 2000, an Election Circus, Prater Garden, Berlin and other locations nationwide
  • 1999 Freakstars 3000 at the Volksbühne Berlin



  1. ^ “Christoph Schlingensief ist tot” [Christoph Schlingensief is dead]sueddeutsche.de(in German). 21 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  2. a b c William Grimes (August 25, 2010), Christoph Schlingensief, Artistic Provocateur, Dies at 49 New York Times.
  3. a b c Hugh Rorrison (August 24, 2010), Christoph Schlingensief obituary The Guardian.
  4. ^ Christoph Schlingensief obituary The Daily Telegraph, October 31, 2010.
  5. ^ Christoph Schlingensief, “18 Images a Second”, May 25 – September 16, 2007Haus der Kunst, Munich.
  6. a b c Shirley Apthorp (August 23, 2010), Schlingensief, Who Put Putrid Bunny on Bayreuth Stage, Is Dead Bloomberg.
  7. ^ George Loomis (October 12, 2010), The New Opera ‘Metanoia’ Goes On, but Without Its Provocateur New York Times.
  8. ^ Jeremy Eichler (July 27, 2004), A Hullabaloo For an Opening At Bayreuth New York Times.
  9. ^ John Rochwell (June 22, 2003), The Weird Twilight of a Wagner New York Times.
  10. ^ Kaspar Mühlemann: Christoph Schlingensief und seine Auseinandersetzung mit Joseph Beuys. Mit einem Nachwort von Anna-Catharina Gebbers und einem Interview mit Carl Hegemann (Europäische Hochschulschriften, Reihe 28: Kunstgeschichte, Bd. 439), Peter Lang Verlag, Frankfurt am Main u.a. 2011, ISBN 978-3-631-61800-4
  11. ^ http://www.artsjournal.com/slippeddisc/2011/09/opera-in-an-african-village-late-directors-last-dream-is-about-to-come-true-video.html
  12. ^ Apthorp, Shirley (22 August 2010). “Schlingensief, Who Put Putrid Bunny on Bayreuth Stage, Is Dead”Bloomberg. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  13. ^ Lukas Kubina: Christoph Schlingensief passed away dld-conference.com 2010
  14. a b ARTINFO’s Rundown of the Winners of the Golden and Silver Lions at the 54th Venice Biennale ARTINFO.COM
  15. ^ “German filmmaker, theater director and artist Christoph Schlingensief died before finishing his upcoming exhibition at the Venice Biennale, but preparations went on without him”. Retrieved 2011-05-29.
  17. ^ Deutscher Pavillon 2011: Christoph Schlingensief / 4 June – 27 November 2011 La Biennale di Venezia, Venice 2010
  18. ^ Festspielhaus Afrika

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Christoph Schlingensief


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Planning for a spaghetti western, SA cowboy, karoo, kalahari, boereorkes, herman charles bosman… IMAGINE the flavours (the image is not irrelevant – yes fun fact, there is a generation of Boere in Argentina, they left right fter the Anglo Boer war)