Review: ‘Nina Hagen = Punk + Glory’

Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 12, 1999. English and German dialogue. Running time: 112 MIN.

Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 12, 1999. English and German dialogue. Running time: 112 MIN.

Billed as a “psychomusic film,” this jumbled ode to the histrionic pop diva promises “scenes and moments, friends + animals in the fantastic life of Nina Hagen.” Pic delivers all too well on these threats at the expense of information and is thus comprehensible only to rabid fans, who can enjoy her rubbery mugging , flamboyant costumes and famous friends. Clip vet and scenester Sempel calls this “direct cinema”; direct-to-video seems more likely, as the whole is decidedly less than the sum of the parts.

Nina Hagen was born in East Berlin and is close to her family, but that’s about it for straight biographical content here, as docu is stuffed with stars from this peripatetic orbit, including Motorhead’s Lemmy, Wim Wenders, Dee Dee Ramone, George Clinton and, in the movie’s most wretchedly watchable moment, Jonas Mekas banging on the door of the Anthology Film Archives chanting “Nina! Nina!” at the top of his lungs. For a movie celebrating a truly remarkable voice , docu has precious little performance footage but lots of her eclectic music. Print caught had no subtitles under its German dialogue.

Nina Hagen = Punk + Glory

(DOCU -- GERMAN -- 16mm)

Production

A Black Sun Flower (Hamburg) productio. Produced by Peter Sempel. Directed by Peter Sempel. Screenplay, Tamara Goldsworthy.

Crew

Camera (color/B&W, 16mm), Goldsworthy, Sempel, Joerg Groenitz, I. Manzke, Jonas Scholz, Carlos Santos, Frank Blasberg, Carlos Fuentes; editor, Sempel; music, Nina Hagen, F.M. Einheit, others.
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