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Herostratus shown at the Berlin International Film Festival, 1968

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Jan. 1st, 1970 | 04:05 pm

Herostratus was shown three times on the last day of the Berlin International Film Festival, 2 July 1968, at 15:00, 18:00 and 20:30. This is some of the promotional material for the event.

Herostratus promo 1968 Berlin

The text, in english, reads:

Herostratus is the first feature film by Don Levy whose short films have been distinguished by their original technique and penetrating approach to their subject.
Herostratus is in the same tradition. The story, on the surface, seems simple. A young man wants to commit suicide publicly and in the presence of as many people as possible. He persuades a public relations firm to exploit the event … then he changes his mind … but by this time other forces are active and he is no longer in control of the situation.

Levy exposes his characters and their motives layer by layer. He does so in the context of a society whose aims and aspirations are centred on private gain and personal success, virtually at any price; in this society the idealism and humanism which can unify a country after a war are rapidly displaced by destructive self-interest. It is not enough, in Levy’s view, to say that war is hell. One must go deeper, find the causes, and attack them.

Herostratus, essentially a film d’auteur, is technically dazzling, but never in a gratuitous or bravura sense. Levy alternates “one-take” scenes (designed to gain the greatest response from the actors, who improvised their dialogue) with short scenes and “threshold” sequences making, in Levy’s words, an intricate network of emotional references.

Herostratus takes its title from the legendary figure who burnt down the temple of Artemis in Ephesus, one of the seven wonders of the world, in a bid to achieve immortality by some great feat of destruction in the manner of the conquerors. On the same night Alexander the Great was born.

Thanks to Christine Veltman for finding this article.

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