Along with Valie Export, Ulrike Ottinger is a German feminist director who makes women’s films based on the fantastic mode which constitutes a strong tradition in German-speaking regions. Ottinger combines Tom Browning’s Freaks(1932), a horror classic about every imaginable kind of monster and Virginia Woolf’s Orlando which materializes the dreams of immortality and bisexuality to create the fantastic road movie Freak Orlando.
The film begins in a desolate landscape, as a wanderer in monk’s clothing enters the fantastic world through the gates of ‘Freak City.’ Once inside, Orlando changes himself into a marginalized social outcast along with the way: dwarfs, Siamese twins, beggars and vagabonds, transvestites, voyeurs. The non-sectoral narrative structure and the film mechanisms that evoke estrangement do not demand sympathetic identification. In this fantastic world, the conception of the normal and abnormal are reversed, and the division between natural and artificial becomes blurred.
The film functions as a grand myth about modern times: a myth that has sprouted from the soil of everyday life and images. The film, which came out when feminist films were much aestheticized, clearly shows the director’s fantastic and speculative nature. (Kwon Eun-Sun)
Ulrike OTTINGERUlrike OTTINGER
Born in 1942, German. Ulrike Ottinger is representative woman director of New German Cinema. Drawing on myths, fairy-tales, literature, painting, and theatre, Ottinger’s lavish feature films verge on the fantastic and surreal. She gained major international attention for her first feature film, Madame X-An Absolute Ruler (1977) and has also worked as a theatre director and ethnographer and author. Her films include Freak Orlando (1981), Twelve Chairs (2004) and Prater (2007).