04/01/2007

From the Feuilletons is a weekly overview of what's been happening in the German-language cultural pages and appears every Friday at 3 pm. CET.. Here a key to the German newspapers.

Die Zeit, 04.01.2007

Harald Martenstein counsels anyone who really wants to laugh about Hitler to take a look at beautifulatrocities.com and catsthatlooklikehitler.com (Kitlers!) or the little films "Der Bonker" and "Hitler Leasing" on YouTube. Martenstein however finds Dani Levy's comedy "Mein Führer," which hits German cinemas next week, only mildly funny. "Levy depicts Hitler as an abused child, lonely, sad, a bed wetter, impotent, abandoned by his closest colleagues and demoralised by his teacher... He distances himself from the murders, from the 'many deaths' – it wasn't all his doing. At the same time cheap jokes abound, the main one being that Hitler spits or that one Nazis have names like 'Puffke' and 'Rattenhuber' while the Jew has been punished with the name 'Adolf'... The comic element is significantly weaker than the tragedy which wafts about Hitler. This makes 'Mein Führer' a major historical event, it being the first mainstream film since 1945 in which Hitler comes off as a regrettable but basically nice guy."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 04.01.2007

Sonja Zekri reports on the surprising phenomenon that "since September 11, Islam has become more attractive for Germans than ever before. According to a recent poll carried out by the archive of the Central Institute for Islam in Soest ... over 1000 Germans converted last year, which was more than in the record year 2005. Salim Abdullah, the head of the Central Institute, sees this as a solidarity reflex as much as anything else: 'It's always at times when Islam is hounded and pulled to pieces that sympathy provokes people to convert,' he says. The level of education among the new converts is notably high and sixty percent are women. According to Sociologist Imgard Pinn who converted in the Seventies, 'A number of these people are psychologically disturbed. Women looking for security, refuge in the cosy Muslim community life,' she says. Others are fascinated by what one German Muslim termed the 'stigma of the radical.' (...) 'For someone who has had enough of Western society, conversion to Islam offers the most distant escape,' says Norbert Müller a lawyer from Hamburg."


Frankfurter Rundschau 04.01.2007

"Without a doubt der Spiegel is no longer what it was in Rudolf Augstein's (who died in 2002) glory days, either in terms of style or content," Roderich Reifenrath writes on the sixtieth birthday of the weekly from Hamburg. "In those days not only was more emphasis given to political issues, but there were regular and influential editorials – now sorely missed. And packing a punch didn't necessarily mean keeping things short. Times were just different then. Bonn, the seat of government was the focus of observation, whereas now a 'flighty zeitgeist' increasingly favours the so-called softer issues for simplistic TV programmes (on Spiegel TV) and print series. And this is taking its toll. Der Spiegel has lost its long-standing function as a leading political medium – and its role as an investigative flagship to boot. The competition has caught up. The country no longer trembles on Monday mornings. The criticism voiced by Augstein's daughter Franziska in 2005 still hangs in the air, that the product has become frivolous and gossipy."


Die Tageszeitung, 04.01.2007

Ines Kappert is impressed by the progressive study of gender power-relations in Angelina Maccarone's film "Verfolgt" (Pursued). The film, which won the Golden Leopard in Locarno last year, tells the story of a successful, middle-aged probation officer who succumbs to the erotic charm of a young offender and enters into an S&M relationship with him. "What's radical about the film is the absence of shame. 'Verfolgt' depicts an immoral passion which is clearly destructive but doesn't evoke feelings of guilt. It is most often the case, as in classics like 'Belle du Jour' (1967) or the Hollywood weepie 'Indecent proposal' (1993), that women who subvert morality end up falling victim to patriarchal authority and pay the price in unhappiness. In its depiction of emancipation 'Verfolgt' is truly a product of the 21st century."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
04.01.2007

Markus Jakob paints a drastic picture of Spain in cement fever. The entire society seems to have fallen victim to it, including the newspapers with their hefty property sections. "Spain is building itself into a corner – particularly along the Mediterranean coast – with over a tonne of cement per year and capita, which is four or five times the amount in comparable countries. And inland is the Moloch Madrid. Almost half the population is squeezed into a hundredth of the national territory. No wonder so many Spaniards suffer from construction noise disorders."

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