Werner Schroeter was to make a film about Marilyn Monroe and Andy Warhol, co-produced by German television station ZDF, yet he soon lost interest after his arrival in California. The Manson murders were in the air, and provided their own, alternative inspiration. Taking a literal detour from Hollywood, Schroeter drove out to a ghost town near Rosamond known as Willow Springs, where in just two weeks he shot the only film he would make in the United States. It concerns a trio of women—Magdalena, the high priestess, Christine, ethereal and remote, and Ila, servile and practically mute—who rob and kill men who pass through their remote corner of the Mojave; their interactions turn fraught with the arrival of Michael, a young man fleeing Los Angeles and dreaming of Hawaii. Preceded by Laida Lertxundi’s gnomic, emotionally charged Footnotes to a House of Love, likewise set in a desolate, sun-soaked locale. “There is an effort,” says Lertxundi of her film, “to create the space of a story, without a story, by the use of real time/diegetic sound. Love is felt as a force that determines the arrangement of the figures in the landscape.”

Footnotes to a House of Love
Laida Lerxtundi, USA, 2007, 16mm, 13m

Willow Springs
Werner Schroeter, West Germany, 1973, 78m
German with English subtitles

Willow Springs courtesy of Filmmuseum München.