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22/04/2005

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.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 22.04.2005

Alex Rühle writes an enthusiastic portrait of musical brothers Micha and Marcus Acher and their band Notwist. The two could have become the latest critical chic, he writes, and filthy rich to boot, had they not turned down a million dollar deal with Vodafone. Instead, they are now touring between Zagreb and Istanbul, and still playing with their father Julius in the band New Orleans Dixie Stompers. In short: "Markus and Micha Acher are the exact opposite of all the bulging, glistening egos that make up the music business. Where everyone else has a hairstyle, they just have hair. And while others spend a long hours in their dressing rooms before going on stage, the two perform in the clothes they put on that morning. From an economic point of view, they are a complete catastrophe. Telling the Vodafone story in a Zagreb courtyard, manager Florian Steinleitner gets a painful look in his eyes. 'I've been trying for years to get the two to buy into a pension fund – you can forget it with them'."

Those of us who are environmentally conscious are celebrating "Earth Day" today. Like the British author Ian McEwan. A look out the aeroplane window has him not only fearing for humanity ("We appear, at this distance, like a successful lichen, a ravaging bloom of algae, a mould enveloping a fruit"), but also confirms for him that: "No single nation is going to restrain its industries while its neighbours are unfettered. Here too, an enlightened globalisation might be of use. And good international law might need to use not our virtues, but our weaknesses (greed, self-interest) to lever a cleaner environment; in this respect, the newly devised market in carbon trading was a crafty first move. The climate change debate is hedged by uncertainties. Can we avoid what is coming at us, or is there nothing much coming at all? Are we at the beginning of an unprecedented era of international cooperation, or are we living in an Edwardian summer of reckless denial? Is this the beginning, or the end? We need to talk." (Here the entire text from Open Democracy.)


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 22.04.2005

Edo Reents reviews a concert by singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, son of performer Loudon Wainwright, in Ludwigshafen. Reents comments enthusiastically on the evening with Wainwright junior, who sees himself as something of a "Gay Messiah": "In any case, his two hour concert was of such quality that things you took for granted before the show no longer seemed so afterwards, and, if there had been any occasion to do so, you would have wanted to say: 'I'm straight – so what?'" For Reents, "his outstandingly exuberant music is opera, chanson and pop rolled into one. The lavish arrangements stand in direct contrast to the music of his father, with whom he has a love-hate relationship."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 22.04.2005


On the 200th anniversary of the birth of French philosopher Alexis de Toqueville, author of the seminal work "Democracy in America", the American journal Atlantic Monthly is featuring a series of articles by another French philosopher, Bernard-Henri Levy, on America today. Sebastian Moll is astonished by the lack of prejudice in Levy's report: "Bernard-Henri Levy is careful not to make value judgements, and as a result his insights, if not revolutionary, take at the very least a surprising angle on things. Instead of making light of American religiousness, he attends a church service in the Midwest and is almost moved by the immediate presence of the American God. 'It is a friendly, nice God, almost human, a good American, who loves you and listens to you'."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 22.04.2005


Markus Jakob writes a portrait of Spanish author Rafael Sanchez Ferlosio, who will receive the Premio Cervantes tomorrow, the most important Spanish literary prize, although he is an avowed detractor of literature. "There are several examples of an author's silence creating a myth. The nearest figure to Ferlosio would be Paul Valery. Without pushing the comparison, there are several parallels with the French intellectual. Once Valery was established as a poet, he declared literature to be detrimental to serious thought. The essays he wrote in his old age put him in the role of the nation's conscience. His 'Cahiers', published posthumously, are commonly seen as his major work. With Ferlosio we'll have to wait and see how far these parallels prove true. But he estimates himself that he has fifty times more unpublished material than published books."

On the media page, Timann P. Gangloff reports on a new trend in the market at Cannes: documentaries on the Third Reich are booming. "'Der Untergang' (running as 'The Downfall' in British and American cinemas) has already been sold to 141 countries, exceeding all expectations. The dramatic feature starring Bruno Ganz as a broken Adolf Hitler has started in Japan with 50 copies. No German film has ever started on this scale in the past. We already know about the crimes of the Nazis. But people still seem to be fascinated by Hitler, as they are by Hannibal Lecter, the serial killer in the film 'Silence of the Lambs'." Also selling well are Heinrich Breloer's three part "Speer und Er" (in Great Britain to be called "Speer & Hitler - The Devil's Architect" – a little more gruesome), the documentations by Guido Knopp, Hans-Christoph Blumenberg's docudrama "Die letzte Schlacht" on the last days in Berlin before the final conquest by the Red Army, and documentations on those who planned to assassinate Hitler and the family of the dictator himself.

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