June 16, 2008

This just in from Julian, who’s sticking it out with us for the Thursday night duration…..

I want to follow up on Brecht’s fantastic post. He mentions in his description the “cynical yet upbeat tone of Weimar culture.” Insofar as the series has a theme, it might be this mindset and way of viewing the world; atrocities occur, but are met by a strange and passive acceptance. Franz loses his arm and barely seems to react. The newspaperman has his balls removed one after the other, but well, ever forward. I recalled Hannah Arendt’s puzzlement, in her analysis of Adolf Eichmann’s 1961 trial in Jerusalem, over the “odd limits” of his conscience. I want to say that Fassbinder presents Franz as inhabiting a particular, peculiar, brittle, false sort of innocence – if that didn’t immediately sound so daft. (We know what is coming…)

To recall just a few moments that have stuck with me: The glittering sweat on Franz’s face as Eva begs him to return from his epic alcoholic stupor in episode four – and her sudden kick at the dozens of bottles to emphasize her quiet outrage; Pums’ hazy mafia-modernist office, with his consort-wife-bodyguard clutching a pistol against her fur coat; the little scream that Franz imagines for his Schnapps as he prepares to send it down his gullet: “I’ve been distilled!!!” I must also remark on the adorably earthy sex scenes between Franz and Cilly. Far from the calisthenics of porn or the fragmented instants of Hollywood love-montage, their sex is portrayed as an affectionate, comic tussle. I’m sure I’ve never seen anything like it.


Comments (1)

  • Lovely observations, Julian. I don’t think Franz being innocent is daft. In my post, I mischaracterized Fassbinder’s big issue, which wasn’t “how do people get to be Nazis?”, but rather how does a whole nation of normal volk get enrolled in Nazi totalitarianism and mass-murder? So it’s about small ‘n’s, not big ‘N’s…

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