One Way Street: Fragments for Walter Benjamin

Director: John Hughes
Year: 1992
Duration: 58 mins

Walter Benjamin is one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century, yet his work is relatively unknown to many. Benjamin, who died escaping the Gestapo in 1940, has been increasingly recognised by artists and thinkers the world over. Born into a wealthy Jewish family, Benjamin was a well known writer and broadcaster in pre-Hitler Germany before he was forced into exile in 1933 when he fled to Paris.

One Way Street is both an exposition of Benjamin’s ideas and a search for Benjamin the man in locations as diverse as the academics of Moscow, the bookstores of New York, Parisienne arcades and the cemetery in a Spanish costal village that has become a place of pilgrimage for Benjamin devotees. The impact of Benjamin’s work is discussed by scholars and the combination of interview, stylised reconstruction and archival film results in a dynamic portrait of one of histories most influential thinkers.

Production Credit

Writer, Director John Hughes. Produced by John Hughes with the assistance of the Australian Film Commission and the ABC. Cinematography Erica Addis, Nicolette Freeman. Editor Uri Mizrahi.

Review Quotes

“ An innovative and exciting attempt to capture the life, thought and death of Walter Benjamin.”  Miriam Hansen, Director of Film Studies Centre, University of Chicago, 1994.

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