PRINT March 2019



Christian Petzold, Transit, 2018, 2K video, color, sound, 101 minutes. Georg (Franz Rogowski).

THE FILMS of writer-director Christian Petzold are haunted: by the specters of history, by revenants, by shadowy protagonists often in flight or exile. These phantom threads are stitched together to create supple narratives that recall earlier movies—Vertigo especially—or classic genres (noir, the woman’s picture) without being in thrall to them. Petzold, born in 1960 to parents who had recently emigrated from East to West Germany, revitalizes old templates to offer new perspectives on historical rifts and traumas.

That style is particularly pronounced in Transit (2018), his latest film, based on the World War II–set novel of the same name by the German writer Anna Seghers. The book, completed in 1942 and published in 1944, is narrated by an unnamed twenty-seven-year-old German man, an escapee from two concentration camps who has arrived in Marseille—where, owing to an administrative

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