The Tension of Translation: Handke's The Left-Handed Woman

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The debate about fiction-into-film will doubtless continue in as many directions and with as many conclusions as it has sustained since Vachel Lindsay abd Sergei Eisenstein addressed the question. Few filmmakers or films, however, focus that debate as explicitly and rigorously as Peter Handke and his much-acclaimed The Left-Handed Woman (Die linkshandige Frau, 1977). Hailed as "the rare thing, a genuinely poetic movie," The Left-Handed Woman is the second feature film by this dramatist, novelist, and poet whose reputation has been based primarily on his literary achievements but whose entrance into filmmaking brought immediate comparisons with the likes of Jean Cocteau and Andre Malraux. Handke's success with this film was not, though, unprepared. Together with Wim Wenders, he made 3 American LPs (3amerikanische LPs, 1969). In 1970 he directed the TV-film The Chronicle of Current Events (Die Chronik der laufenden Ereignisse), a self-styled allegory about two years of recent West German history. The next year he provided the novel and the script for Wenders's film version of The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick (Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elf-meter, 1972). In 1974 he collaborated with Wenders once again, this time on Wrong Move (Falsche Bewegung), a loose adaptation of Goethe's classical Bildungsroman, Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship (Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre).

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