‘L’ Assommoir Perdu’ Part 1- Berlin films 1995 – 1997

15th June 2022

In 1995 I began making a series of short, silent Super 8 films that would be collectively known as ‘L’ Assommoir Perdu’.

The first film made in March 1995, after a particularly bitter Berlin winter, was called ‘Igor or the Young Person’s Guide to Berlin.’ The title refers to the music chosen to accompany the film: ‘The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra’ by Benjamin Britten.

Igor, played by Martin O’Shea (who was my main actor in many films, and later theatre projects), is an idealistic Socialist and Brecht fanatic. The young man visits Berlin, making pilgrimages to the Brecht Haus and grave, as well as various locations associated with Socialist Berlin.

We began the film quite seriously but at one point, when Igor reaches into his pocket to find a toffee, it took on a more light-hearted tone.

The climax, with a cast of dozens, was totally unplanned. The boy band Take That were playing two gigs in Berlin and the weekend before, for some reason, a large group of teenage girls marched up Unter Den Linden, from Alexanderplatz to the Brandenburg Gate, singing Take That songs.

Following ‘Igor’ was a more modest film, shot in about an hour in a small park at the end of my street.

In ‘Kleingeld und Dulcimer’, Martin O’Shea plays Mr Kleingeld (German for small change), a loner of indeterminate age. After going shopping in a cheap supermarket, Mr Kleingeld sees a busker and is so impressed, he gives the musician some small change. Very small change. However, Mr Kleingeld has no idea about social behaviour and Mr Dulcimer, played by Detroit musician Jeff Tarlton, reacts to having his space invaded.

This film won first prize at the Prenzlau International Film Festival in winter 1995, which was held on a farm north of Berlin.

Cultural nod – the character of Mr Kleingeld was based on British comedian Eric Morcombe.

The third film, featuring a cameo from Mr Kleingeld, is ‘Les Aventures de Bruno Dalle’. Bruno tries to be French cinema icon Jean-Paul Belmondo. His girlfriend, Iris, brings him back to reality. She needs him to get a job. Angered, Bruno decides to take his Belmondo fascination further. He meets his friend, Richard Rastignac (who will appear in a later film), and is given a gun and told to go rob a bank. Will Bruno go through with the plan ? How will he appease Iris ? What exactly is Mr Kleingeld doing in this movie ?

Cine transfer organised by Martin O’Shea with the assistance of Screenshot Berlin (www.screenshot-berlin.de).