Douglas Sirk

About Douglas Sirk

Who is it?: Director, Writer, Assistant Director
Birth Day: April 26, 1897
Birth Place:  Hamburg, Germany, Germany
Years active: 1934–1979
Spouse(s): Lydia Brinken (1929-1934) Hilde Jary (1934–his death)

Douglas Sirk

Douglas Sirk was born on April 26, 1897 in  Hamburg, Germany, Germany, is Director, Writer, Assistant Director. Film director Douglas Sirk, whose reputation blossomed in the generation after his 1959 retirement from Hollywood filmmaking, was born Hans Detlef Sierck on April 26, 1897, in Hamburg, Germany, to a journalist. Both of his parents were Danish, and the future director would make movies in German, Danish and English. His reputation, which was breathed to life by the French nouvelle vague critiques who developed the "auteur" (author) theory of film criticism, casts him as one of the cinema's great ironists. In his American and European films, his characters perceive their lives quite differently than does the movie audience viewing "them" in a theater. Dealing with love, death and societal constraints, his films often depend on melodrama, particularly the high-suds soap operas he lensed for producer Ross Hunter in the 1950s: Magnificent Obsession (1954), All That Heaven Allows (1955) and his last American film, Imitation of Life (1959) (Sirk's favorite American film was the Western Taza, Son of Cochise (1954), which was shot in 3-D).Sirk's path to crafting what are now considered paradigmatic dissections of conformist 1950s American society began when he was 14 years old, in his native Germany, when he discovered the theater. He was very influenced by William Shakespeare's history plays. The young Sirk also liked the cinema, particularly films starring Danish actress Asta Nielsen. Sirk credited Nielsen's films with providing him an early exposure to "dramas of swollen emotions".After World War One he studied law at Munich University beginning in 1919, then transferred to Hamburg University, where he read philosophy and the history of art. Following in the vein of his father, he wrote for the newspapers to earn money, and also began to work in the theater. It was in his native Hamburg that he made his professional debut as a theatrical director, with 'Hermann Bossdorf''s "Bahnmeister Tod" ("Stationmaster Death") in 1922. Until forced to leave Germany with the rise of the Nazi dictatorship, Sirk developed into one of the leading theatrical directors in the Weimar Republic. He began directing shorts at UFA Studios in 1934, and made his first feature film, April, April! (1935), shooting it first in Dutch and then in German).His cinema technique was influenced by his interest in painting, particularly the works of Daumier and Delacroix, which he later claimed left "their imprint on the visual style of my melodramas". He made eight films in all for UFA through 1937, and the German Minister of Propaganda who oversaw the film industry, Dr. Joseph Goebbels, was an admirer. However, he left Germany in 1937 after his second wife, stage actress 'Hilde Jary', had fled to Rome to escape persecution as a Jew. Sirk's first wife and the mother of his only child, Lydia Brinken, a follower of Adolf Hitler, had denounced Sirk and his relationship with Jary, necessitating their departure. Sirk never saw his son again, who died during World War Two.Sirk and Jary eventually made it to the US by 1941, and he joined the community of émigré/refugee film people working in Hollywood. His first directorial stint in America was Hitler's Madman (1943), but it is for his work at Universal International in the 1950s for which he is primarily known. For producer Ross Hunter he made nine films, many of which involved the collaboration of Rock Hudson, cinematographer Russell Metty, screenwriter George Zuckerman and art director Alexander Golitzen."I was, and to a large extent still am, too much of a loner," he said in his retirement, and his partnership with Universal, Hollywood and American society at large was a love-hate relationship. He and his wife did not approve of the excesses of the Hollywood life style, such as nude women splashing around in producer Albert Zugsmith's pool during a party (he shot two films for Zugsmith). Even though he had his biggest success with the remake of "Imitation of Life" (winner of the Laurel Award given out by movie exhibitors for the most successful picture of 1959), he and his wife left the US for Switzerland after the movie wrapped. The move was partly due to poor health, but by 1959 he had had enough of America, which he never felt at home in. The couple lived in Lugano, Switzerland until his death in 1987.When he retired from American filmmaking (he was to make only one more feature length film, in German, in 1963), his reputation was that of a second- or third-tier director who turned out glossy Hollywood soap operas, a sort of second-rate Vincente Minnelli without the saving grace of Minelli's undeniable genius for musicals. In the nearly half-century since, Sirk has become one of the most revered of Hollywood's auteurs.Jean-Luc Godard got the ball rolling in the April 1959 issue of "Cahiers du cinéma", in which he wrote a love letter to Sirk about his adaptation of the 'Erich Maria Remarque' novel A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1958). But the true genesis of the Sirk cult was another "Cahiers" article, "L'aveugle et le Miroir ou l'impossible cinema de Douglas Sirk" ("The Blind Man and the Mirror or The Impossible Cinema of Douglas Sirk"), which was in the April 1967 issue. That issue of "Cahiers" also featured an extended interview with Sirk and a "biofilmographie". More converts came to the Sirk cult via Andrew Sarris, who popularized the "auteur" concept in his seminal 1968 work, " The American Cinema," Yb Gucci Gae ranked Sirk on "The Far Side of Paradise". Sarris faintly praised Sirk's handling of the soap elements of his Universal oeuvre by his not shirking from going for broke and stirring all the improbable elements of melodrama into a heady witches' brew; he also complemented his distinctive visual style. However, the major work that transformed Sirk's reputation was rooted in the intelligence and thoughtfulness of the man himself: Jon Halliday's 1971 book-long interview, "Conversations with Sirk", which made his critical reputation in the English-speaking world. The Sirk of Halliday's book is an intellectual with a thorough grasp of filmmaking. The book is must-reading for any student or practitioner of the cinema. The 1972 Edinburgh Film Festival featured a 20-film retrospective of Sirk, and in 1974, the University of Connecticut Film Society put on a complete retrospective of Sirk's American films. The rise of 'Rainer Werner Fassbinder' as the best and the brightest of the post-war German directors also burnished Sirk's reputation, as Fassbinder was an unabashed fan of his films. Fassbinder's films clearly were indebted to Sirk's melodrama, his mise-en-scene, and his irony (Fassbinder visited Sirk at his Swiss home, and the two became friends. Sirk later, with Fassbinder's encouragement, taught at the Munich film school).Society is an omnipresent character in Sirk's films, as important as the characters played by his actors, such as Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson. Sirk's characters are buffeted by forces beyond their control, as their lives are delineated by cultural mores that constrain their behavior and their moral choices. In addition to this fatalism, Sirk's characters must contend with repression. It is the latter trope that recruits the most converts to the Sirk cult, as the forces of repression are "signalled" through the imagery of a Sirk film, which typically was crafted in collaboration with the Oscar-winning lighting cameraman Russell Metty when Sirk worked for Hunter at Universal. The plots of the movies that are at the core of the Sirk cult are rooted in problems that would be insurmountable but for the miracles provided by the deus ex machina known as the Hollywood Happy Ending.While Sirk was glad that his reputation had waxed since his retirement and that he was now respected, he was uncomfortable with some of the criticisms of his work. He particularly was irritated by cineastes' labeling him an unequivocal critic of the American Way and of the social conformity of 1950s America. Many critics seemed to see Sirk as American cinema's equivalent to Bertolt Brecht, that is, a fierce critic of the bourgeoisie. Sirk, like many of his generation in Germany, had been influenced by Brecht (he had directed a production of Brecht/Kurt Weill's Die Dreigroschenoper (1963) in Germany), but he did not feel that he was a brother-in-arms of the unabashed communist Brecht, as many of his critics would have it. Like one of his own characters, Sirk was now subjected to societal forced outside his control, quite unlike the worlds he had controlled as a director in Germany and the United States.Ironically for the great ironist, when Douglas Sirk died on January 14, 1987, his reputation was not yet in full flower. He continues to exert his influence on a new generation of filmmakers all over the world.
Douglas Sirk is a member of Director

Does Douglas Sirk Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Douglas Sirk has been died on 14 January 1987(1987-01-14) (aged 89)\nLugano, Ticino, Switzerland.

🎂 Douglas Sirk - Age, Bio, Faces and Birthday

When Douglas Sirk die, Douglas Sirk was 89 years old.

Popular As Douglas Sirk
Occupation Director
Age 89 years old
Zodiac Sign Taurus
Born April 26, 1897 ( Hamburg, Germany, Germany)
Birthday April 26
Town/City  Hamburg, Germany, Germany
Nationality Germany

🌙 Zodiac

Douglas Sirk’s zodiac sign is Taurus. According to astrologers, Taurus is practical and well-grounded, the sign harvests the fruits of labor. They feel the need to always be surrounded by love and beauty, turned to the material world, hedonism, and physical pleasures. People born with their Sun in Taurus are sensual and tactile, considering touch and taste the most important of all senses. Stable and conservative, this is one of the most reliable signs of the zodiac, ready to endure and stick to their choices until they reach the point of personal satisfaction.

🌙 Chinese Zodiac Signs

Douglas Sirk was born in the Year of the Rooster. Those born under the Chinese Zodiac sign of the Rooster are practical, resourceful, observant, analytical, straightforward, trusting, honest, perfectionists, neat and conservative. Compatible with Ox or Snake.

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Sirk was born Hans Detlef Sierck on 26 April 1897, in Hamburg, of Danish parentage; his father was a newspaper reporter. He spent a few years in Denmark as a child, before his parents returned to Germany and became citizens. Sirk discovered the theatre in his mid-teens, particularly Shakespeare’s history plays, and also began to frequent the cinema, where he first encountered what he later described as “dramas of swollen emotions”; one of his early screen favourites was Danish-born Actress Asta Nielsen. In 1919, he enrolled to study law at Munich University, but he left Munich following the violent collapse of a short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic. Between stints at university, he began writing for his father's newspaper, not long before his father became a school principal.


With his first wife the Actress Lydia Brincken Sirk fathered one son, Klaus Detlef Sierck (1925-1944), born on 30 March 1925 in Berlin-Charlottenburg, Germany. His ex-wife joined the Nazi party and because of Sirk's re- marriage to a Jewish woman was able to legally bar him from seeing their son, who became one of the leading child actors of Nazi Germany, known for Die Saat geht auf (1935), Streit um den Knaben Jo (1937) and Kopf hoch, Johannes! (1941). He died as a soldier of the Panzer-Grenadier-Division Großdeutschland on 22 May 1944 near Novoaleksandrovka, Kirovograd Oblast, Ukrainian SSR, USSR (now Novooleksandrivka, Kirovohrad Oblast, Ukraine).


By the 1930s Sirk had become one of Germany's leading stage Directors, with a list of credits that included a production of Brecht's The Threepenny Opera. Sirk joined UFA (Universum Film AG) studios in 1934, where he directed three shorts, followed by his first feature, April, April (1935), which was filmed in two language versions (in Dutch and in German). His exotic melodramas Zu neuen Ufern and La Habanera made a star of the Nazi cinema out of Swedish singer Zarah Leander.


Sirk left Germany in 1937 because of his political leanings and his Jewish (second) wife, Actress Hilde Jary. Still in Europe he worked on films in Switzerland and the Netherlands. On arrival in the United States, he soon changed his given, German name to Douglas Sirk. By 1942 he was under contract to Columbia Pictures and directing the stridently anti-Nazi Hitler's MadMan for the legendary Producer of Nero Film, Seymour Nebenzal, for whom Sirk also directed Summer Storm (1944).


Attitudes toward Sirk's films changed drastically in the late 1950s, 1960s and 1970s as his work was re-examined by French, American, and British critics. As Jean-Luc Godard wrote in his review of A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1958), "...I am going to write a madly enthusiastic review of Douglas Sirk's latest film, simply because it set my cheeks afire."


Sirk briefly returned to Germany after the War ended, but returned to the U.S. and established his reputation with a series of lush, colorful melodramas for Universal-International Pictures from 1952 to 1959: Magnificent Obsession (1954), All That Heaven Allows (1955), Written on the Wind (1956), The Tarnished Angels (1957), A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1958), and Imitation of Life (1959).


Despite the enormous success of Imitation of Life in 1959 (partially fueled by the scandal surrounding the murder of Lana Turner's boyfriend by her daughter), Sirk left the United States and retired from filmmaking. He died in Lugano, Switzerland, nearly thirty years later, with only a brief return behind the camera in Germany in the 1970s, teaching at the film school, Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film, in Munich.


The major critical reappraisal of Sirk began in France with the April 1967 issue of Cahiers du cinéma, which included an extended interview with Sirk by Serge Daney and Jean-Louis Noames, an appreciation by Jean-Louis Comolli (“The Blind Man and the Mirror or The Impossible Cinema of Douglas Sirk”), and a “biofilmographie” compiled by Patrick Brion and Dominique Rabourdin. Leading American critic Andrew Sarris praised Sirk in his 1968 book The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929–1968, although Sirk failed to qualify for Sarris' controversial "pantheon" of great Directors. From around 1970 there was a burgeoning interest among academic film scholars for Sirk's work - especially his American melodramas. The seminal work in this field was Jon Halliday's book-length interview, Sirk on Sirk (1971) which presented Sirk as "... a sophisticated intellectual, a filmmaker who arrived in Hollywood with a very clear vision, leaving behind him an established career in German theatre and film". Several major revival seasons of Sirk's films followed over the next few years, including a 20-film retrospective at the 1972 Edinburgh Festival (which Sirk attended), which also generated a book of essays. In 1974 the University of Connecticut Film Society programmed a complete retrospective of the director’s American films, and invited Sirk to attend, but on the way to the airport, for the FLIGHT to New York, Sirk suffered a haemorrhage that seriously impaired the vision in his left eye.


Sirk's reputation was also helped by a widespread nostalgia for old-fashioned Hollywood films in the 1970s. His work is now widely considered to show excellent control of the visuals, extending from lighting and framing to costumes and sets that are saturated with symbolism and shot through with subtle barbs of irony. Film critic Roger Ebert has said, "To appreciate a film like Written on the Wind probably takes more sophistication than to understand one of Ingmar Bergman's masterpieces, because Bergman's themes are visible and underlined, while with Sirk the style conceals the message."


Sirk continued his studies for a time at the University of Jena before transferring to Hamburg University, where he switched to philosophy and the history of art. It was here that he attended a lecture on relativity given by Albert Einstein. A major influence in this period was art Historian Erwin Panofsky - Sirk was a select member of Panofsky's seminar group for a semester and wrote a large essay for him on the relationship between Medieval German painting, and the mystery plays; in his 1971 interview with Halliday, Sirk declared, "I owe Panofsky a lot." To support himself while studying, Sirk began working as a second-line dramaturg at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg. In 1922, substituting for a Director who had fallen sick, Sirk directed his first production, the Hermann Bossdorf play Bahnmeister Tod ("Stationmaster Death"), which became a surprise success, and from that point Sirk was (in his own words) "lost to the theatre". In addition to the theatre, Sirk worked in many areas of the arts during this formative period - he painted, took a summer job as a set-designer at a Berlin film studio, published his own German translation of Shakespeare's sonnets, translated some of Shakespeare's plays, and published writings of his own.


Sirk's films have been quoted in films by Directors such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder (whose Ali: Fear Eats the Soul is partly based on All That Heaven Allows) and, later, Quentin Tarantino, Todd Haynes, Pedro Almodóvar, Wong Kar-wai, David Lynch, John Waters and Lars von Trier. More specifically, Almodóvar's vibrant use of color in 1988's Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown recalls the cinematography of Sirk's films of the 1950s, while Haynes' Far From Heaven was a conscious attempt to replicate a typical Sirk melodrama - in particular All That Heaven Allows - but with a more obviously ironic take on the material. Tarantino paid homage to Sirk and his melodramatic style in Pulp Fiction, when character Vincent Vega, at a '50s-themed restaurant, orders the "Douglas Sirk steak" cooked "bloody as hell." Aki Kaurismäki alluded to Sirk as well; in his silent film, Juha, the villain's sport car is named "Sierck". Sirk was also one of the Directors mentioned by Guillermo del Toro in his Oscar acceptance speech for Best Picture for The Shape of Water : "Growing up in Mexico as a kid, I was a big admirer of foreign film. Foreign film, like 'E.T.', William Wyler, or Douglas Sirk, or Frank Capra."

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