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One of Werner Schroeter's most important and inventive works, this threadbare evocation of Jean Genet's notorious Querelle depicts the erotic adventures of two sailors through the world's seaports in the manner of a cut-rate silent movie
Considered by such Schroeter authorities as Philippe Azoury and Gérard Courant to be one of the director's most important and inventive works — Azoury dedicates almost one tenth of his slim volume on Schroeter to Winter Journey alone — this enchanting film was originally conceived as All the Sailors in the World, chronicling the erotic adventures of two gobs in the world's major seaports; its subsequent downscaling is essential to its genius. Shot in seven nights in a Zurich apartment, avoiding the day so as not to disturb the surgeon whose office was below, the film takes artisanal artifice to new heights, achieving a kind of spare grandiosity. In this threadbare evocation of Genet's Querelle, the harbours of Naples, San Francisco, Hamburg, Tunis and Hong Kong are represented by backdrops painted in the "sweet colours of Matisse," in front of which Schroeter's actors perform their roles as gay seamen and portside whores in the manner of silent movie performers while Bulle Ogier dubs their voices. "The result is amazing . . . a colourful adventure film, boundless in its realism, which here and there borrows elements from American B-pictures" (Courant).