© Kinowelt Filmverleih

Absolute Wilson
Germany 2006

Opening 12 Oct 2006

Directed by: Katharina Otto
Writing credits: Katharina Otto
Principal actors: Robert Wilson

Robert Wilson is an international theater/opera director and creator of art installations. This documentary by Katherina Otto-Bernstein begins with young Wilson in his home town of Waco, Texas. He was a shy boy who stuttered, which could be one reason that his theater creations are notably free of spoken text. He later said, “Language is the barrier to imagination.” His mother supposedly was “cold” and his father definitely rich. A kindly teacher helped him overcome his stutter. He survived this childhood and moved to New York City, where he out-ed himself as a homosexual to his father’s displeasure. He established a workshop in the New York countryside where people gathered to create films and art. He is known for his Einstein at the Beach (1976) and CIVIL WarS (1983). He befriended and supported several young people and could identify with one autistic boy who also lived on the fringes of society, but could be integrated into the theater. Residents of Hamburg have held him in esteem ever since his Black Rider opened at the Thalia Theater in 1990 and was sold out for months. It toured the big cities of Europe, was a success in NYC and provided the necessary career basis for German actor Dominic Horowitz. Wilson directed opera in Hamburg as well, not to mention building the light installations at Hamburg’s Dorint and SIDE Hotels. He left a sample of his handwriting in the eighth-floor SIDE Hotel lobby – where his chairs are impossible to sit in, but no matter. Susan Sonntag, Phillip Glass and others comment in the film. As a Wilson groupie, I’m probably unqualified to give an unbiased opinion; my colleague complained that director Otto-Bernstein was also not objective. Objectivity must be left to others, perhaps when Wilson is no longer around to influence the film. Otto-Bernstein from Hamburg belongs to the Otto Versand mail-order-catalog family. She studied in Columbia University. Absolute Wilson showed at the 2006 Berlinale. (Becky Tan)

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