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Normal Sentence

USA/GER 1982, 109 min

Beautiful things shouldn't really come from Karstadt, but they do.


Brookburg, April 30, 1975, the first day of peace, in the office of memory. A young artist, specialist in the separateness of cultures, tries the analysis of his brutal sentimentality. Intellectual American TV babies practice before his eyes the analysis of their feelings on the medium of soap, which must remain incomprehensible to him because he deprived it as a child. He is left with the isolation of his work. Following an unconscious grid, he collects attractive-seeming sentences in battalions of notebooks, where the sense of images also applies to language: the anarchy of simultaneity that makes possible the life that destroys history.

The separate places and times are woven together. Country borders run between makeshift kitchen and adjoining apartment office, where a changing staff performs sentences interpreting the facts of love, death, and paranoia.

NORMAL SENTENCE, together with the films DIE BASIS DES MAKE-UP and THE MEADOW OF THINGS, forms the Trilogy of the ’70s.


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Language: German, English (the German parts are without English subtitles)

Press reviews

Most acerbic remark: Heinz Emigholz, when asked by an irate viewer to define the audience for whom he had made his film NORMALSATZ (Normalsatz is set in Brookburg, a synthetic city comprised of equal parts of Manhattan and Hamburg whose inhabitants speak both German and English), replied, ‘Airline stewardesses’. (Amy Taubin, THE SOHO NEWS, 16. März 1882)

Awards and Festivals

- Berlinale - Internationales Forum des Jungen Films 1982
- Feature Film Award of the German Film Critics 1982


Director, Director of Photography and Editor
Heinz Emigholz
Sheila McLaughlin, Hannes Hatje, Lynne Tillman, Silke Grossmann, Peter Blegvad, Marcia Bronstein, Carla Liss, Carola Regnier, Kiev Stingl, Hilka Nordhausen, David Marc, John Erdman, Heinz Emigholz, Martha Wilson, Klaus Wyborny, Christoph Derschau, Ann Knutson, Bernd Broaderup
Heinz Emigholz ("Straight Off the Movies" by David Marc, "The Interpretation of Facts" by Lynne Tillman, "Specimen of Table-Model Talk" by Daniel Czitrom und David Marc), Drawings by Peter Blegvad
Original Sound
Marcia Bronstein, Gabriel Berdé, Vincenz Nola
Sound Mixer
Richard Borowski
Heinz Emigholz
Produced by
Pym Films
With the support of
Silke Grossmann, Marcia Bronstein, Hannes Hatje, Elfi Mikesch, Sheila McLaughlin, Peter Blegvad, Cynthia Beatt, Renée Shafransky, Anke Rixa-Hansen, Rüdiger Neumann, Helene Kaplan, Helmut Herbst, Elke Granke, Street Visions, B-Pictures, Buch Handlung Welt, BMI, Rafik, Filmhaus Hamburg, Millenium, Henry, Raw Magazine and Paranoids Anonymous Newsletter
World Premiere
16.02.1982, Berlinale - Forum

Distribution Details

Screening Format
DCP (2K, 25fps, 5.1)
16mm (about Arsenal - Institut für Film und Videokunst)
Aspect Ratio
DCP: 16:9 / 16mm, 1:1,37, b/w and Color
German, English
License Area