Collages and Poetology - Watching Harald Bergmanns "Brinkmanns Zorn" as a Literary Adaptation

Term Paper, 2012

10 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Collages and Poetology: Watching Harald Bergmann´s Brinkmanns Zorn as a Literary Adaptation

In an interview with Patric Blaser, the director Harald Bergmann describes his movie on the German poet Rolf Dieter Brinkmann as something entirely new, between the categories of a documentary and a motion picture (Blaser). The main reason why it is hard or even impossible to classify Brinkmanns Zorn (2006) to a particular label is surely the usage of Brinkmann´s original audio recordings of himself, his family, friends and various sounds from everyday life. In a phase of his life when Brinkmann considered filming and recording the best method to depict and represent events and impressions, these methods substituted writing as the conventional means of a poet. Although they find it hard to find a genre Brinkmanns Zorn fits into, both Blaser and Bergmann tend to define the movie as a kind of biopic. But taking into consideration that Brinkmann´s recordings, both on tape and on Super-8 films, are texts just like his collages, poems, diaries and novels, the movie can also be regarded as a literary adaptation. Before I examine two aspects of Brinkmann´s texts that are transferred to the movie by Bergmann, I want to explain why Brinkmanns Zorn can be watched as a literary adaptation, since this approach is the basis for the following analyses. The two aspects discussed here are Brinkmann´s first person perspective in many of his texts and his collage-like style, which includes the combination of clipped-out photos, article headlines and written language, and the author´s treatment of poetology.

Brinkmanns Zorn - a Literary Adaptation?

As Bergmann and Blaser have pointed out, it is utterly difficult to classify Brinkmanns Zorn. Without a doubt, it can be regarded as a documentary or a biopic, because a period in the life of the historical figure Rolf Dieter Brinkmann (1973-1975) is represented in the movie. However, it does not quite fit into this genre since the historical individual is not only the protagonist but the presenter at the same time. One could go one step further and call it a kind of autobiopic, yet, the director Bergmann arranged and chose the tapes Brinkmann produced and visualized them according to his ideas, which makes him the creator of the story told about Brinkmann. Labelling the movie an adaptation of literature is of course no solution to the rather secondary issue of definition, but it can serve as a basis for the thesis that some features of the movie have been transferred or adapted from Brinkmann´s texts. The most obvious reason for considering Brinkmanns Zorn an adaptation of literature is the cinematic illustration of the poet´s tapes. A second reason is that Brinkmann used these audio recordings as a substitution of written language in order to portray reality. Illustrating these recorded texts with cinematic techniques like camera movement, cuts, music, light and actors´ movements is nothing else but a literary adaptation. Further, several of Brinkmann´s texts are represented in the movie (films, postcards, written text) or provide the illustration of whole scenes (the collages). One could argue that in any other biopic about an artist it would be reasonable to show artefacts that iconically stand for him or her, but in Brinkmanns Zorn, the collages are not just used to hint at the author, they have essential functions. They explain Brinkmann´s way of perceiving reality and they are shown as autonomous pieces of art, since they are staged like a drama when they are read out loud by various voices and are put in motion by cuts.

As a matter of fact, there still remain some aspects in Brinkmanns Zorn that are deviant from literary adaptations. Brinkmann´s recorded audio texts, his films, written texts and collages are juxtaposed by Bergmann but lack one coherent literary source. Besides, if we presume that Brinkmanns Zorn is a literary adaptation, it ought to be a fictional movie, but the poet portrayed in the movie is meant to be the historical Brinkmann. Eventually, every literary adaptation has a narrator who relates the fictional story (in this case, Brinkmanns life from 1973-1975) - but who would be the narrator in Brinkmanns Zorn ? Would it be the Brinkmann played by Eckhard Rhode, the voice-over of Brinkmann that occurs in some scenes, or the camera? These questions prove that the definition of Bergmann´s movie as an adaptation of literature is not entirely satisfying and that this classification remains as valuable or useless as any other categorisation of the movie. Nevertheless, there are some good reasons for defining Brinkmanns Zorn as an adaptation of literature, and, moreover, this approach makes it easier to discuss the following aspects.

Formal Features in Brinkmann´s Texts and in Bergmann´s Movie

It will be impossible to pay attention to every formal feature of Brinkmann´s texts and to examine them minutely; nevertheless, I will focus on some formal characteristics and the way they are mirrored in Brinkmanns Zorn. Many of Brinkmann´s poems (in Ihr nennt es Sprache, Le Chant du Monde, &-Gedichte), stories (Der Arm, Das Alles) and, of course fact, his diaries (Rom, Blicke) are written in a first person perspective. This might be a rather trivial observation, regarding that, amongst others, Sibylle Späth and Olaf Selg have already pointed out the relevance of Brinkmann´s biography for the interpretation of the poet´s texts (see Selg). However, Bergmann pays attention to this repetitive feature of Brinkmann´s style and transfers it to the film. While the reader of Brinkmann´s texts takes over the perspective of the protagonist or the lyrical I, the spectator of Brinkmanns Zorn follows the Brinkmann in the movie by a camera that imitates his movements. The impression evoked by this illusion is similar to this created by reading a text written in first person singular. Examples for this adaptation are Brinkmann walking through the park at the beginning of the movie and can be observed in nearly every other scene Brinkmann is in motion outside his flat.


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Collages and Poetology - Watching Harald Bergmanns "Brinkmanns Zorn" as a Literary Adaptation
University of Kent  (School of German)
German Literature and Fiilm
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ISBN (Book)
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collages, poetology, watching, harald, bergmanns, brinkmanns, zorn, literary, adaptation
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Franz Kröber (Author), 2012, Collages and Poetology - Watching Harald Bergmanns "Brinkmanns Zorn" as a Literary Adaptation, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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