Pierrot Lunaire

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    Pierrot Lunaire

    Directed by

    Germany, Canada


    51 min

    • English
    • German

    Experimental, Music, Short

    In 1912 the actress Albertine Zehme asked the composer Arnold Schönberg to set to music part of the Pierrot Lunaire-poems by the Belgian Albert Giraud: For five musicians and a female singer Schönberg arranged 21 of the 50 poems to become one of his ground-breaking works for music theatre. In 2011 the conductor Premil Petrovic asked the filmmaker Bruce LaBruce to direct a stage version of Pierrot Lunaire with actress Susanne Sachsse singing and performing in the title role. The concept for the stage production is grounded in Schönberg’s understanding of cabaret, which took him to a dreamworld, full of “decadent longing, guilt, rapture and fear”, endowed with horror scenarios and an ironic-satiric humour. In 2013 LaBruce took Pierrot Lunaire to the streets of Berlin to film a dark story of longing, love, and transgression. This film features a soundtrack with Petrovic’s interpretation of Schönberg’s musical melodrama, sung by Sachsse. Based on a true story, LaBruce’s Pierrot Lunaire lends an appropriately radical queercore vision to one of the most innovative contributions to atonal music.


    • Teddy Special Jury Award - Berlinale IFF



    Susanne Sachsse
    Arnold Schoenberg
    Bruce LaBruce
    Ismail Necmi
    Jorn Hartmann

    Director's Statement

    While I listened to the music of Arnold Schönberg I tried to associate a concept that would match well with the mood of his atonal music on the one hand, and on the other hand could be combined with the poems by Albert Giraud in a more contemporary context. From the jungle of thoughts of my unconscious rose a story that is supposed to have happened decades ago in Toronto, and that is both odd and universal […]: A young girl that regularly dresses as a boy falls in love and seduces a young girl that has no clue that her lover has the same sex. When the girl introduces ‘her boyfriend’ to her father he becomes skeptical and unmasks the fraud [and] does not allow them to ever see the other again. Furious and delusional the ‘boy’ develops an adventurous plan to prove his true ‘masculinity’ to the father of his lover.



    This is the kind of film you want to watch in a dark bar, cigarette in one hand, and a hard drink in the other.

    Shelagh M. Rowan-Legg, Vérité Film Magazine

    Bruce LaBruce

    Bruce LaBruce


    I try to contradict myself at least once a day, it’s a healthy exercise. If you are too sure about everything, if your politics become doctrine, then you’re not actually living in the real world.

    Bruce LaBruce was born in Southampton, Canada in 1964. He began his career in the mid-eighties making a series of short experimental super 8 films and co-editing, with G. B. Jones, a punk fanzine called J.D.s, which launched the queercore movement. He attended film school in Toronto and studied film theory at York University. His film HUSTLER WHITE screened in the Berlinale Panorama in 1996 and was his first international cinema success. His 2013 film GERONTOPHILIA screened at many festivals including Festival du Nouveau Cinéma Montréal where it won the award for Best Feature Film. His work has often featured in the Berlinale, such as PIERROT LUNAIRE which screened in the 2014 Forum Expanded and won the Teddy Award. His latest film THE MISANDRISTS also screened in Berlinale Panorama.

    Selected Filmography