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German Cinema: Meaningless Importance


With Christian Schwochow's "Deutschstunde" filming, civic education cinema starts again on 3 October. Like so many German films, he has nothing to say about the past or the present.


The last exhibit in the big Emil Nolde exhibition, which ended two weeks ago at Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, was a black and white photograph. It showed the then Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, as he turned his back on the photographer and looked at the painting "Sea III" by Emil Nolde.

The dedicated Wehrmacht soldier and the glowing anti-Semitic, rehabilitated in different ways and reached the Chancellery in different ways: The photo was taken around 1976 and holds in a unique way, what at that time, in the some 30 since the Second World War years, to reconditioning yet had not been done. The Berlin exhibition further extended the timeframe for another 45 years, until Angela Merkel, to a certain extent coerced by the insights gathered in the exhibition, had the last picture of Nolde removed from the Chancellery in April 2019.

In the video: The trailer for German lesson


Wild Bunch

Now Christian Schwochow has filmed "German lesson", Siegfried Lenz's great Nolde Verklärungsroman. But the film does not tell anything about 2019. Nor of 1974 or even of 1968, when the novel appeared and apparently represented the kind of dealing with the past, for which people in West Germany liked to make room in the bookshelf.

Rather, Schwochow's film encapsulates itself in a vacuum that makes impossible any connection to relevant contemporary historical debates: here Lenz's parable is downplayed so contextlessly on misunderstood duty fulfillment, with the usual scolding uniform bearers (Ulrich Noethen, with the acting hackebeil) and impotent wives (Johanna Wokalek, as always historically looking into the distance), that the film again says something acute about the present. For how "German lesson" fails, is typical for the German film.

photo gallery

10 pictures

"German lesson": Dirty uniforms, fainting women

Driven by dwindling importance and declining visitor numbers, it is increasingly relying on well-known or even filmed materials. From the "German Lesson" Peter Beauvais turned his 1971 version. The big Christmas movie 2019: The remake of "When Hitler stole the pink rabbit".

90 minutes "defend your beginnings"

Similar to Hollywood, where sequels, reboots and prequels are consistently commissioned under the pre-Awareness marketing slogan, creative output is often manageable - see the remake of Anne Frank's Diary.

Unlike in other countries, the local cinema industry is also talking that way, because re-filmed films are often narratives from the National Socialist era, and they are supposed to be automatically relevant again through the current right-wing populism. 90 minutes "defend the beginning" are the result, it is sufficiently discussed that the beginnings of the Hitler regime have no equivalent in the present.

In her book "The Society of Anger", for example, Cornelia Koppetsch outlined the influence that globalization and the way in which established parties had had on the rise of right-wing and right-wing extremist positions. The book was on the bestseller lists for weeks, and Koppet's theses were widely discussed. Even this intellectual present denies itself the German cinema, when it unanimously 1933 and 2019 in one.

There are contemporary films that have something to say about the present and the past and know how to express this with original cinematic means. At one stylistic end, Jan Bonny's NSU fiction is "Wintermärchen", a drastic body-cinema that only succeeds in Germany every few years; At the other end, Thomas Heise's documentary epic "Home is a space of time," which finds new images for the gruesome logistics of the Holocaust by letting the camera skip the lists of deported Viennese Jews for more than 20 minutes and the time on which the names of Heise's great-grandparents will appear, are approaching inexorably.

Deterred by socialism

There are hardly any more impressive minutes in this theatrical year, but fewer are not, as attention and cinemas in Germany belong to films like "Deutschstunde", which will start in more than 120 cinemas (for comparison: "Heimat ist ein Raum aus Zeit"). in eight) - and then also on the state-bearing October 3. A tradition started with "Werk ohne Autor", which came to the cinema on the same holiday in 2018, seems to be solidifying here: the moviegoer should learn something about his home country these days.

In the video: The trailer for "Between us the wall"


Alpine republic

It fits in with the fact that the GDR youth love drama "Between us the wall" starts at the same time - also a book adaptation with an educational impetus, however of such a simple cut that it almost touches. GDR is told with a panning pan over a shop window: A bottle of beer, a can of sardines, a glass of beef broth, plus a (!) Carrot and a (!) Celeriac - that's how you probably want to deter the generation Primark once and for all from socialism ,

Students will be misled, but at the most culture: According to the book templates of "German lesson" and "Between us the wall" students will certainly not reach, because the film adaptations radiate the conviction that the books just do not speak for themselves and new generations can be discovered. An even greater disservice, however, the cinema industry itself, if it continues to produce such films. For what should a younger audience discover in the cinema if the films themselves do not know what they have to tell?

Maybe "German lesson" is still a lesson - for the German cinema, so that it finally out of its bubble of meaningless importance out creates.

Source: spiegel

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