Alexander Kluge was born in Halberstadt in 1932, the son of a doctor. Kluge studied history, law and music at university, receiving his Doctorate in law in 1956. While studying in Frankfurt, Kluge befriended philosopher Theodor Adorno, who introduced him to the great Fritz Lang, for whom Kluge worked as an assistant.
In 1960, Kluge directed his first short film, Brutality in Stone. A poetic montage film, it reflected Kluge?s politics by arguing that the buildings of the Nazi period bore silent witness to the party?s atrocities. Kluge?s first feature film, 1966?s Yesterday Girl, was his break through hit, winning two prizes at the Venice Film Festival and the German Film Awards, although many think that Kluge?s true masterpiece was his second feature film, Artists Under the Big Top (1968), which won Venice?s Golden Lion. In spite of its success, Artists was criticised for being ?inaccessible?, and the film was in fact so incomprehensible that Kluge offered free tickets to anyone who needed a second viewing.
Political and philosophical thought have always enriched Kluge?s films, and following the publication of his seminal theoretical work The Public Sphere and Experience, he made a series of films which engaged with the work?s politics. Part-time Work of a Female Slave (1973) garnered criticism in Germany and abroad, but he continued his contentious argument in In Danger and Great Distress the Middle of the Road Brings Death (1974), which won two German Film Awards. Strongman Ferdinand was something of a Kluge experiment, as he attempted to make a political film for the populace by giving it a cohesive narrative and a recognisable German star. His experiment did not pay off: while the film was awarded the FIPRESCI prize at Cannes, it was a commercial failure.
Kluge?s contributed to the portmanteau Germany in Autumn, which also featured films by Schlöndorff and Fassbinder, among others. Collaboration thence became Kluge?s preferred working method, of which The Candidate and War and Peace are testimony. However the works which truly stand out from this later period in Kluge?s career are his two essay films, The Blind Director: The Assault of the Present on the Rest of Time and the dense, compelling The Power of Emotion (1983) which garnered the FIPRESCI prize at Venice.
Kluge has never enjoyed commercial success; however his contribution to the formulation of the New German Cinema movement, his theoretical and philosophical works and his powerful films have cemented his place in cinema?s history. Kluge has not made a film since 1988, instead choosing to work in television, where he continues to stage his ?revolution from below.?