October 18, 2013

Today, the V'13 retrosepective, curated in collaboration with the Austrian Film Museum, was launched. It is dedicated to actor, screenwriter and director Jerry Lewis, a moving figure of existential cinema at the margins of humor. 

Relatively young - born Joseph Levitch in Newark, New Jersey in 1926 – he made himself accessible to the art of entertainment and had his first time on stage at age five. As a pantomimic "Record Act" he performed in his boyhood. Four years later, he met Dean Martin and 1945 they kicked off their career as a comedy team. 

What started with vaudeville acts, soon got it's own time slot on television and radio. And also Hollywood didn't evade "The Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis". Paramount signed on the duo and 17 films were produced. After steering towards screenwriting and camera the Jewish movie star as well became a major director of the American postwar period. 

As an actor, he adds the meta-level of mimic expression to the level of spoken word. Surface tension of humor points to background. A chasm yawns, where a laugh seems foreground and uncoats irritated characters and their quest for identity. Gesture is a peg on which to hang the exploration of split personalities in the tangle of modernity. Never a one-man-show entertainer, his ability to touch the loneliness of the subject is independent from his space-filling screen presence. No mask of distraction from emotional depth is the face twisted with joke, but a finger on the fractures of time and its inhabitants. 

As writer and director, he mobilizes humor and childlike curiosity for questioning the essentially. He uses a sense for appreciating simplicity for noticing the set as bundle of inspiring secrets. Not least because he fell under the spell of technology and method, his interaction with the media is an apparently affectionate. Aphoristic productions of details cause smirk and amuse those, recognizing the shilly-shally human nature. The setting indicates fhe fragility of existence, however never drawn in black and white. 

If you want to get an idea of experiments with illusion and bubble over in laughter seeing figures plucking your heartstrings, if you want to reach new heights in interpreting the supposed obvious, you are well advised with the program overview to take a step forward into the direction of silver screen. A refreshed view on today's faces is guaranteed. (bk)

Austrian Film Museum, 1010 Vienna, Augustinerstraße 1

Tel.: 01/533 70 54 •