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31/01/2007

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.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 31.01.2007

Hoo Nam Seelman reports that 32 years after the fact, a South Korean court has had the courage to admit to a grave judicial error which resulted in the execution of eight young men. Seelman describes the case and concludes: "Korea has fought for democracy and many lost their lives in the process. In 2002, the current government established a committee to investigate all possible violations of state justice. Soon, the dimensions of the 'In Hyuk Dang case' became clear. Encouraged, the relatives applied for the case to be taken up again. The abrogation of the eight death sentences for innocent people showed how quickly the Korean judiciary, once so tightly connected to the powers that be, could change. This outcome will not only boost faith in the justice system, it will also animate the debate on the abolition of the death penalty. A false judgement can be annulled, a lost life is lost forever."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 31.01.2007

Chinese president Hu Jintao started a tour of eight African cities yesterday. Senegalise author Adama Gaye, whose book "Le dragon et l'autruche" on the Chinese influence in Africa came out last year, warns of a new colonisation: "The political classes in Africa are welcoming the Chinese with open arms. Because as opposed to Western credits, Chinese investment and financial support are not tied to political conditions like democracy, transparency or human rights. That's very convenient for politicians like Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe or regimes like the one in Sudan. It consolidates their structures and at the same time suppresses unwelcome criticism of their human rights records, which aren't all that good in China either. Incidentally, this not only goes for Africa's politicians. Even the people on the street have said goodbye to the democratic model. They see China's rise as an alternative to the democratic West, and hope for an economic miracle like the one China is experiencing."


Die Welt 31.01.2007

On the occasion of Philip Glass' 70th birthday, Volker Tarnow considers the American composer's role in music history. "Glass influenced our understanding of minimal music like no other because he invested the idea with an incomparable radicalism. His 1975 opera 'Einstein on the beach,' a collaboration with Robert Wilson, revolutionised musical theatre by forgoing all pretences of narrative action (...) This Einstein walks for four hours along a beach; following in his acoustic tracks, one loses all sense of time in a way previously only familiar to stoned beatniks on Sylt or Neo-Hindus in Goa."

Chris Kraus' film "Vier Minuten" (Four minutes) hits the screens in Germany tomorrow. Hanns-Georg Rodek is thrilled that it will finally be shown more than a year after it was finished. "Basically 'Vier Minuten' is a duel film, in which the dagger has been replaced by the piano and the men in overcoats by two women - one in prim beige cotton and the other in jeans and a checked shirt. But what looks at first like German arthouse anti-chic turns out to be a breathtaking tug of war between two well-nigh fatally wounded souls, the likes of which we haven't seen for ages. 'I think you're abject, but you've got talent, and that must be encouraged. I'll help you to play better, but not to become a better person.' When Monica Bleibtreu dictates her conditions and Hannah Herzsprung accepts, both know they're letting themselves in for a power struggle that will be waged with all psychic and physical means."


Die Tageszeitung 31.01.2007

Actress Hannah Herzsprung talks with David Denk about her role in "Vier Minuten," her relationship to her actor-father Bernd Herzsprung and how she lied to get the part by saying she could play the piano. "But the worst thing was after the shooting, when I went back to my piano coach for real lessons. I had to start over from scratch. Instead of Mozart's A major sonata which I could play by heart - which was a real thrill - I had to start over playing the notes to 'Hänschen Klein,' and I couldn't even play that. Then after I'd forgotten Mozart I at least wanted to play 'Hänschen Klein' well. But just when I'd really dug my teeth into it I got another terrific role and didn't have any more time to practice."

Bettina Gaus recalls an interview between her father, the journalist Günter Gaus, and the terrorist Christian Klar in 2001, in which Gaus encouraged Klar to plea for clemency. The plea is currently being considered by German President Horst Köhler. (more) She also discusses the significance of clemency and the ambiguity of a public debate on the subject. "The two people who the clemency plea would directly affect are not saying a thing. They can't, they're not allowed to. In a strange way, Horst Köhler and Christian Klar have become fellow sufferers these days; both have been condemned to silence."

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