The Wagner Journal

Patrick Carnegy, Syberberg’s ‘Parsifal’ and the Soul of Germany

Patrick Carnegy, Syberberg’s ‘Parsifal’ and the Soul of Germany

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July 2017, Volume 11, Number 2, 54–60.

I’ve absolutely no competence in Freudian psychology. So I must ask for your understanding that I will largely follow Hans Jürgen Syberberg’s own Jungian view of his wonderful film version of Parsifal. Its central, unifying image, on which the action takes place, is that of the physiognomy, even the very skull, of the Wagnerian head in which it was conceived. The huge studio mock-up of Wagner’s death-mask was some 15 metres long by 9 metres wide, with the height from the studio floor to the tip of the nose measuring 4.5 metres.

I think it’s important to begin by recognising that Syberberg’s Parsifal is the culmination of a series of previous films with which he had sought to exorcise the association between icons of German culture and their debasement by the Third Reich.

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