Scen.: Ingemo Engström, Gerhard Theuring. F.: Axel Block. M.: Heidi Murero, Elke Hager. Mus.: Pablo Casals. Int.: Ruth Fabian, Peter Gingold, Alfred Kantorowicz, Ernst Erich Noth, Ida Pozner, Vladimir Pozner (se stessi), Reinhart Firchow, Hildegard Schmahl (voci narranti), Rüdiger Vogler, Katharina Thalbach. Prod.: Ingemo Engström, Gerhard Theuring, Christhart Burgmann, Annelen Kranefuss per Theuring-Engström-Filmproduktion, IFAG-Filmproduktion GmbH. DCP. Col.
Anna Segher’s novel Transit (1944) is the leitmotif of this film essay on German exiles in France and their escape to the South after Hitler marched into Paris. But Fluchtweg nach Marseille is neither adaptation nor documentary: actors recite and react to passages from the novel. Eyewitnesses speak. Documents from the Nazi era are contrasted with images of places and landscapes in which the settings of persecution and escape come back to haunt both the filmmakers and us. This is a search for evidence that interweaves facts, personal recollections, and both literary and visual reflections.
The theme of the film is the escape route of the German emigrés in France in 1940-41. It describes historical research against the background of landscapes and towns that once witnessed scenes of persecution …
The film has a subtitle with its own story. Images from a working journal (1977) on the novel Transit (1941) by Anna Seghers… The title signals homage to Brecht’s working journal. And at the same time it describes a method of work that has always appeared to be the most fruitful. It takes its energy from the spaces that open up within a sequence of moments. With Brecht it is the combination of work notes, newspaper photographs and personal pictures. The mounted materials are seldom given the commentary of his own notes, but nevertheless the specific link between one and the other is immediately clear to anyone who reads Brecht’s notes and newspaper photographs or texts connectively. Even when – as is usually the case and these are the most enlightening places – the connection is one of lack of connection …
Finding a connection between a work-in-progress (1977) and a source (1941) was both easy and difficult. The intersection point was quickly established as an idea. But the research, deliberations and inventions needed to do it justice were all the more hesitant, even though enjoyable. In order to take the material seriously, the first requirement was to turn away from it, to initiate one’s own choices. Passages had to be regarded as quotations and as nothing more.
Ingemo Engström, Gerhard Theuring, Escape Route to Marseilles, “Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media”, n. 18, 1982