- LULU / PANDORA'S BOX
- DAPHNIS AND CHLOE
- FEDRA
- THE FUGITIVE KIND
- THE TESTAMENT OF ORPHEUS
- PHAEDRA
- HERCULES CONQUERS ATLANTIS
- YOUNG APHRODITES
- CONTEMPT
- PROMETHEUS FROM THE VISEVICE ISLAND
- SANDRA OF A THOUSAND DELIGHTS
- THE GOLDEN THING
- THE TRAVELLING PLAYERS
- EURIDICE BA 2037
- IPHIGENIA
- A DREAM OF PASSION
- CLASH OF THE TITANS
- THE YEARS OF THE BIG HEAT
- ENIOCHUS - THE CHARIOTEER
- ANTIGONE
- EDIPO ALCADE
- THAT'S LIFE
- BLADE RUNNER
- VERTIGO
- MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA
- ORPHEUS
- PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN
- ULYSSES
- HERACLES AND THE QUEEN OF LYDIA
- BLACK ORPHEUS
- ANTIGONE
- ELECTRA
- JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS
- ‘«Ň GORGON
- OEDIPUS REX
- ‘«Ň ILLIAC PASSION
- THE CANNIBALS
- ŐEDEA
- NOTES FOR AN AFRICAN ORESTEIA
- FOR ELECTRA
- PROMETHEUS IN THE SECOND PERSON
- VOYAGE TO CYTHERA
- ULYSSES' GAZE
- ‘«Ň MATRIX
- O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?

THE GOLDEN THING
DAS GOLDENE DING
Germany, 1971


Direction: Edgar Reitz, Ula Stockl, Alf Brustellin, Nikos Perakis. Screenplay: Edgar Reitz, Ula Stockl, Alf Brustellin, Nikos Perakis. Director of Photography: Edgar Reitz. Production designer: Nikos Perakis. Costume designer: Regine Batz. Music: Nikos Mamangakis. Film editor: Hanellore von Sternberg. Cast: Christian Reitz (Jason), Olivier Jovine (Orpheus), Colombe Smith (Medea), Reinhard Hauff (Pelias), Angela Elsner (Iris), Michael Jeron (Heracles), Erich Betz (Argos). Production: Edgar Reitz, Ula Stockl, Alf Brustellin, Nikos Perakis for Edgar Reitz Filmproduktion. Duration: 114 minutes. Colour.

The film is about an Argonaut expedition faithful to the mythological model, yet, done by children battling in a world of adult dragons. The film was made for the German television and is the first part of a mini-series (the second part would be The Tragedy of Medea) which was never completed.

"We are Kings"
by Benjamin Henrichs

Men in ancient costumes, extras in silver helmets, a veiled beauty: a cinema of disguise, very heavy. Alf Brustellin plays a Greek king, Reinhard Hauff invades the screen to remind us almost of the traditional scheming theatrical character. A spear penetrates a king’s body, a machinator lies on an orgy bed. In brief, the film begins in the way that usually antiquity is presented on the screen – as if it wants to show us that the magic of the myth lies far beyond us. The rags hanging from the actors’ bodies underline that this kind of cinema has reached a stalemate. The whole scene seems childish.
However, from the moment the film starts addressing children, it matures! While those gentlemen and ladies go on with their pompous performance (the traditional games of jealousy and royal murder), child Jason (Christian Reitz, about 12 years old) has more interesting things to do. He blackens a glass with smoke and looks at the sunset through it. And suddenly, a magic image appears: the setting sun looks like a huge black fruit hanging from a tree. How easily one can discover magic through logic!
From this moment on, the film seems absolutely disgusted by the performance. After many scenes where the camera remains on faces and events, we, finally, see an image of freedom: the sea (the Austrian Lake Traunsee) appears in the horizon and on it we see a tiny joyful spot, Argo. The ship leaves Greece and the film abandons adults. Argo, the royal ship, becomes a child’s toy boat. The heroes’ expedition (for the Golden Fleece) becomes a children’s cruise. The film puts aside the period cinema without being downgraded into another cinema genre that addresses today’s children. It is not a film about teenagers, boys and adventures with an impressive drumroll; it is – at last! – a story that begins reasonably.
The making of a historic epic film played by children is like filming on a tightrope! It is a very difficult project. If the directors’ aim was to teach the children to act in a classic way, the result would be a National Theatre played by dwarfs; or, ever worse, the directors might have wanted to "steal" the childlike charm of their actors in order to give into it later and in an melodramatic way. However, in The Golden Thing Edgar Reitz, Ula Stockl, Alf Brusselin and Nikos Perakis managed to create something quite beautiful and mysterious: we get the impression that this film leaves the children alone. Even though the beginning of the film was a childish and imprecise masquerade, now, the children’s ship is dominated by the real game’s sobriety and precision; a game which sets the most complicated goals: e.g. the children gather to decide how they will pass through the Symplegades, the crashing rocks. It is a question of life and death. Jason by using two stones, a cord and a wooden stick will show the Argonauts how they will manage to pass through. The children gather and discuss without the fake hubbub of the adventure while, far away, the rocks crash creating pandemonium. Life and death? What is threatened is the game of experience and its solution.
We do not have a happy group of toddlers nor some meek, young angels. On the contrary: children and filmmakers realised that ancient myths cannot be presented in a tone of crazy and blind enthusiasm nor through staid and arrogant distance. Instead, we must narrate them like a new game; a game in which experimentation means "respecting the rules", without any a priori affected or highbrow style. "We are kings," says king Jason to the women of Lemnos. The same phrase, if said by an adult, would sound fake and idiotic. Jason does not sound comic at all when he says this phrase. "We are kings" is the rule of the film’s game, and rules must be followed. The rules of the game bear no hypocrisy.
Of course, sometimes filmmakers take the film out of the children’s hands: we notice, for instance, that children, almost in every deed, observe the myth, its mysteries and legends with a down-to-earth consideration. We can perceive this not only visually, but also verbally: when Jason, with the arrogance of his precociousness, gives advice for the emancipation of the women of Lemnos ("So, start honouring yourselves!") or when children formulate their thoughts with extreme eloquence, we realise that the film does not belong to children alone. We feel that the message is coming from the director.
In a moment of magic, we are already aware of the things that will happen in the second part. The Golden Fleece has been stolen; so has Medea. "Argo" is on her way back to Greece and the children are seated at Argo’s bridge, somewhat melancholic because, for now, the adventure is over. Then, Medea gives the last word: "Good luck to the kings". Her uncertain and worried tone gives us the impression that she has already started intuiting that the second will no longer have luck and adventures and that its title will be: The Tragedy of Medea.

ęSüddeutsche ZeitungĽ 1.12.1972