Monday 28 August 2017

Whatever happened to Rebecca Pauly - once a star for Claudia von Alemann, Raul Ruiz and Wim Wenders

Rebecca Pauly, Die Reise Nach Lyon
Way back in 1980 the crowd at the Edinburgh Film Festival got very excited about a film by an unknown German director Claudia Von Alemann. Die Reise nach Lyon/Blind Spot starred an actress named Rebecca Pauly. Von Alemann and Pauly both came to Edinburgh for the screening and no doubt were pleased with the response. The gorgeous Rebecca joined in the Edinburgh fun, wandering round the festival accompanied by a somewhat gormless looking young man. Pauly created quite an impression. I cant remember much about the film except for its ending in which Pauly, while waiting for a train, began to play the violin. Her music was then punctuated, indeed accompanied, by the irregular sound of the train’s whistle, creating a remarkable duet between sound and music. End of movie.

Claudia von Alemann (c. 1980)
As an aside I could mention that von Alemann’s debut feature played a lot of the festivals that year and people thought she might be one of those who burst upon the scene and went on to a substantial career. Alas it was not to be. If anyone saw her subsequent features they were in a very small coterie. Nebelland (1981), Frauenzimmer (1981), In Dieser Fremdem Stadt (1982, Lichte Nacht (1988), Das Nachste Jahrhundert Wird uns Gehoren (1988), and …Wie Nachtliche Schatten (Ruckfahrt Nach Thuringen)(1991)  didn’t make it onto the circuit and that’s been that.

Rebecca Pauly, The Territory
Rebecca Pauly was an instant object of desire for the festival crowd. More than a few European directors leapt to gain her acting services, first up being Raul Ruiz who had a low budget project going with production allegedly by Roger Corman (not on the credits) and the ubiquitous Paolo Branco. That film, The Territory (1981), is included in a recently acquired Raul Ruiz boxset titled Raridades (reviewed here by Rod Bishop). Pauly plays Barbara, who is married to one character and carrying on with another among the group who head off into the wilderness. They get hopelessly lost and resort to eating those who die along the way. They don’t kill to eat, just wait for victims to emerge. Ruiz manages to contrive for Pauly to take off the top half of her clothing at one stage, possibly a Corman pre-requisite. He also allows her to play the violin on a couple of occasions before the group embark on their hike in the forest. (Interesting on this film there is no credit for a writer though the online indexes now credit Ruiz and the Brit born critic and novelist Gilbert Adair.)

Pauly went, with much of the team assembled by Ruiz, straight into Wim Wenders’ The State of Things (1982), also produced in Portugal by Branco and some others. Hers is the second name on the credits after Isabelle Weingarten (also in The Territory). It’s been so long since my single viewing of the film at the Sydney Film Festival that I don’t even have a memory of Pauly being in it. The memory goes mostly to all those old time Hollywood guys whom Wenders rounded up to play Hollywood guys.  

Rebecca Pauly, Peng! Du Bist Tot
I was moved to find out just where Rebecca Pauly’s career took her.  She did another film for Ruiz in 1984 Pointe de Fuite/Vanishing Point which is also on the Raridades box set in a somewhat battered looking copy. Otherwise there’s not much info about beyond the IMDb list which records that she did a fair amount of TV, none of which reached here, and appeared in Polanski’s The Ninth Gate (1999). She won an acting award of some kind for her role in a German film Peng! Du Bist Tot (Adolf Winkelman, 1987), which you can find, un-subtitled, on YouTube. Otherwise nada, rien, nothing known, no appearance your honour. The European art film directors who had given her career a major push were nowhere to be found.

I can see I’m going to have to dig out a copy of the Polanski just to round out the viewing. A career in feature films that lasted just on twenty years, add in more years if you count some short films that are listed before the von Alemann film. Another interesting actress chewed up.

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