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Movies by D.S.
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D.S. as Actor for other Directors
Awards / Retrospectives
Books dealing with D.S.

Obituary on D.S. by Katja Nicodemus
Fantasyland by Amy Taubin
The Ritual of Desire by Barbara Scharres
La Paloma by Gary Indiana
Death Flowers In Twofold Eroticism
The Boundless Freedom Of Imagination

 

The Ritual of Desire by Barbara Scharres

Daniel Schmid grew up in one of Europe's grand old hotels, which has remained in his family for generations. The vast and lovely space, the intimacy, the anonymity, the ephemeral nature of luxury and hospitality that is had for a price, all became influential factors in the aesthetic of this unique Swiss filmmaker. OFF SEASON (1992), the most autobiographical of all his films, creates a magical portrait of this world seen through the eyes of a young boy. Mysterious nocturnal characters roam the corridors of the Alpine hotel, and in the dining room and bar, guests invent facades of themselves and live out fantasies before an audience of strangers. The reinvention of self is an important concept in Schmid's work. In the most literal sense this exploration encompasses the portrayal of actors, cabaret divas and opera singers in films that range from "TONIGHT OR NEVER"(1972), a satire of class warfare and trading places, to "TOSCAS KISS"(1984), a feeling homage to aging opera stars.

In "THE WRITTEN FACE"(1995), shot in Japan, he deconstructs the world of the Kabuki Onnagata, a male performer who plays women's roles in drag. However, Schmid's intentions run deeper than the masquerades effected by paint and costume, and he seeks to define the transforming moment in which the soul of the performer coalesces into that which he/she portrays.

In his satire, "BERESINA OR THE LAST DAYS OF SWITZERLAND (1999), a Russian call girl schemes and charms her way to the upper echelons of Swiss society, and exacts a funny and fitting revenge when her former patrons turn against her.

His atmospheric thriller "JENATSCH" (1987) fantasizes the story of a 300 - year old skeleton, and unmasks the man behind the national legend.

Early in his film career Schmid worked in Berlin, where he formed a friendship with the brilliant and notoriously mercurial director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. They collaborated over a period of years, with Schmid acting several small roles for Fassbinder, and the German director playing the male lead in Schmid's "SHADOW OF ANGELS"(1976).

"LA PALOMA(1974) , in which Schmid's favorite actress, the cabaret singer, Ingrid Caven, achieves the glamour she aspires to, only to waste away like Camille, and in "SHADOW OF ANGELS", in which an elegant prostitute, Caven once again, finds fantasy a more desired commodity than sex.

The Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago 2000