Opening 10 Oct 2013
Nobody loves Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” more than Marc Rollinger. He is an opera fan, but prefers only this opera, and for that he travels long distances to see new presentations of the same old thing. In this documentary director Angela Christlieb visits Rollinger in his native Luxemburg and then follows him to Venice, Vienna, and Berlin for new productions of “Don Giovanni.” Thus: the “opera” in the title. The “naked” part comes from the fact that Rollinger is gay and meets up with boy toys at home as well as on the road. He is also a millionaire, a necessity in order to afford both long-distance operas as well as young, muscular call boys. Rollinger, too, is young, just 36, and he has an incurable illness, for which he must seek out doctors on a regular basis. Perhaps this feeling of finality and vulnerability gives him permission to live this self-centered life. In every scene he is surrounded by luxury: his apartment, beautiful opera houses, hotels, and restaurants. He thrives in it, but still seems ultimately dissatisfied, a little boy with too many toys. His urge for control went so far as to require the director to film exactly as he demanded. In an interview, Angela Christlieb said that, in order to get deeper and find some real “feelings,” she could occasionally break through the façade when she stocked enough champagne and invited yet another handsome boy to the set. It reminds me a bit of the recent Liberace film: music, wealth, glamour and a boy friend.
This played at the Berlinale in the Panorama section. Luckily for us, we now have a unique opportunity to see two films which could not be more extremely opposite. Another documentary, which also opens on October 10, is An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker. Here an extremely poor gypsy family in Bosnia-Herzegovina lives happily, in spite of difficulties just to put food on the table, much less pay for necessary medical treatment. I definitely recommend that you, as a true film fan, see these films back to back if possible for two fascinating slices of life which could not be more different, even though they both involve human beings. (Becky Tan)