WHO is he?
German born film director and screenwriter who made over two dozen feature films in German, French and English languages between the early thirties and his untimely death in the mid-fifties. Ophüls moved out of Germany when Hitler rose to power and made films in the United States and France for the rest of his career.
WHY is he of interest?
Among the most elegant of filmmakers in the history of cinema, Ophüls has been an influence on major later day directors such as Stanley Kubrick (whose Barry Lyndon is a film Ophüls himself would have made), Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Paul Thomas Anderson. If not anything else, Ophüls’ films are documents of sheer cinematic beauty, of the expressive possibilities of the moving camera and the long-shot style of filmmaking.
WHERE to discover him?
In his most celebrated film The Earrings of Madame de... (1953), Ophüls finds a perfect articulation of his style in the story of a married woman who sells off her diamond earrings to support her extravagant lifestyle. The film deals with the appearances and surfaces and the inescapability of individuals from the material realm that surrounds them. Ophüls’ tableaux-like compositions, likewise, lock the characters in two-dimensional structures, thus sealing their fate.