The Main Actor

The Main Actor was featured at the Museum of Modern Art/Film Society of Lincoln Center New Directors' Festival at Lincoln Center in April 1978, and was reviewed as follows by the Soho Weekly News:

“Offhand I can't recall any director ever making a fictional film about the moral consequences of one of his own films, as Reinhard Hauff has done in... The Main Actor. In 1976 Hauff released a film called Paule Pauländer, about a young German farm boy, focusing on his conflict with his stern, old-fashioned father and his dreams of being a garage mechanic and traveling on the open road. The Main Actor, though a fiction film, tells what really happened to the actor who played this boy (Hauff, who started his career in 1969 making documentaries, generally uses ‘real people' instead of professional actors in his films) after Paule Pauländer was finished. It is not a pretty picture.

“The plot of The Main Actor picks up near the end of the filming of a movie very like Paule Pauländer and features as its main characters a director (who looks very much like the real Reinhard Hauff) and his main actor (who looks very much like Manfred Reiss, who played Paule). The director character finds himself quite literally confronted with the boy he has made a ‘star.' The boy has run away from home (just as the director directed him to do in the film) and is clearly no longer able to deal with his old realities and environment. He arrives on the director's doorstep, and the director takes him in and tries to deal with him and his problems. But he's got a film to edit, other relationships, other things to do and worry about. The relationship with the boy, always tenuous at best, disintegrates, and the young rebel becomes increasingly angry and violent. Is it the director's fault? Is the boy his responsibility? Has the boy's life been ‘exploited' for art - or is the little bastard actually exploiting him, taking the director for all he can get? Is, in fact, The Main Actor Hauff's honest examination of a real-life disaster or a kind of guilt-ridden apologia that goes one step further in the whole exploitation process? Whatever, the film stands as one of the most disturbing films of our time about the politics of aesthetics and establishes Hauff as one of the very finest and most skilled of all the directors of the New German Cinema.”

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