DER SPIEGEL: Ms. Funke, in her new novel "Das Labyrinth des Fauns" fights the heroine Ofelia in a fantasy world against evil, but the historical background is the horror of the Franco regime. Does reading help against fascism?
Funke: Reading can tell you to walk in the shoes of others. How does it feel, for example, to be a refugee? But that alone will not be enough. I'm here with Erich Kästner: "There is nothing good, except you do it." The only thing that really helps against the AfD, for example, is that we all fight back and become politically active. You have to deal with the topic and take the fears of those who are moving to the right seriously. I believe that it is one of the greatest mistakes of the left to leave these fears to the right.
DER SPIEGEL: What exactly should the Left do?
Spark: A first step would be to admit that we all actually have a racist corner in us. Because we are afraid of the stranger. At the same time, of course, I also think that it is time for the human species to get over it. Because we - and indeed everyone - have to deal with a climate catastrophe and have to work together. At the moment, a political catastrophe with a climatic hand goes for me.
9 picturesCornelia Funke: The worlds of the storyteller
DER SPIEGEL: Her novels are often about courageous children and teenagers allying themselves in fantastical worlds against an authoritarian enemy. Do you think a Nazi would read your books?
Spark: You have to be careful. Reading is gladly glorified, according to the motto, the book is always good. Mein Kampf was also a book. But I believe that I am not one of the writers who transfigures evil. Nevertheless, of course, perhaps a Nazi also longs for something that can be found in my books - even if I do not like it. In "The Labyrinth of the Faun," he might find himself in Captain Vidal and his murderous rage, Ofelia's brutal stepfather, chasing Spanish partisans.
DER SPIEGEL: The novel is based on the movie "Pans Labyrinth" by Guillermo del Toro, because of many brutal scenes he got the release "from 16". Your book is now recommended from age 14 - do you think that young people at that age can handle the substance?
Spark: My first impulse was also: they are too young for that. But actually, I think they are ready, even for hard scenes. And it was clear to me from the start that I would not gloss over or even downplay anything from the film. Not all resistance fighters are doing well in the story. Fascism in Spain was not overthrown. I think, especially in the current political situation, it is important to be very realistic.
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18.09.2019, 15:55 clock
Cornelia Funke, Guillermo del Toro
The Labyrinth of Fauns
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DER SPIEGEL: You've lived in California for 15 years. How are you there under Donald Trump?
Funke: The situation in the US is just as disturbing as everywhere else. Think of the shift to the right in Italy or the Brexit vote in the UK; from friends from Germany, who are not whites, I hear that they are again hostile in the open road. Trump is just a particularly embarrassing figurehead in this regard. It is dangerous that people like him make it socially acceptable to express themselves racist. It's as if the old monster is raising its head again.
DER SPIEGEL: What does it mean for you to write fantastic literature?
Spark: Let me put it this way: at this moment, do you realize that we are sitting on a planet orbiting a fireball?
DER SPIEGEL: No. Not really.
Spark: Are we watching the fly on the wall completely differently than we do?
DER SPIEGEL: Probably.
Spark: Every day I am dismayed by my own ignorance of this world. About what creeps and loves and what surrounds me in diversity of life. That is, every fantastic narrative is powered by our reality. Everything is much more comprehensive, enchanted and unreal than we can imagine. That's why fantastic storytelling is a way for me to get a bit closer to the fantastic of our existence.
DER SPIEGEL: Will there be another collaboration with Guillermo del Toro?
Funke: Guillermo knows that. I think that was such an incredible experience that you do not have to repeat it. But I have worked with him on film - we both think about the world and have the same values. I am always open for cooperation with him.
DER SPIEGEL: Could you imagine working with other fantasy directors as well? About with Peter Jackson?
Spark: Peter? No. I have seen the Lord of the Rings films many times and there is much that has complemented my reading experience. But there were also many things that I did not like.
DER SPIEGEL: Namely?
Funke: Peter's obsession with Gollum and the battles ..., especially in the second and third parts. He missed a lot, I think. Guillermo had also thrown the hobbit when he realized where the whole thing should go - and Peter Jackson has stopped it. I think Guillermo is a different kind of director. With other inspiration.
DER SPIEGEL: Which one is yours?
Spark: The American wilderness is still the greatest enchantment for me. My property is 2.5 acres. Often young artists from all over the world come to visit me. I explain to you then that there are coyotes at night, but they do not attack humans, but you should beware of mountain lions. There are also meerkats and rattlesnakes. The other day I was sitting outside on the porch, the full moon hanging behind my hundred-year-old plane tree and above me a huge owl made its rounds.