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GoetheInstitute

10/08/2005

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.

Die Welt, 10.08.2005

"The GDR was no proletariat state, it was a consummate petite bourgeoisie," writes East German author Rolf Schneider, referring to Jörg Schönbohm's reaction to the gruesome murder of 9 babies in Brandenburg state, of which he is Interior Minister (background to this story here and here). Schneider claims that if there was a real demise in the East, it began after 1989. "There was certainly a deadening and brutalisation that took place under the leadership of the SED (the communist party of former East Germany), but there was also an extremely strong sense of solidarity and humanity: a reaction to the pressure from the authorities. The degeneration of these attitudes after fall of the Wall in 1989 was experienced by many as a painful loss and is a cause of the brutalisation that is being referred to. That material impoverishment leads to spiritual decay seems equally irrefutable."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 10.08.2005


Joachim Kaiser, doyen of German music critics, is positive if not absolutely enthralled about Martin Kusej's staging of Franz Grillparzer's "King Ottocar's Rise and Fall" at the Salzburg Festival: "It was so forced, so brash, so stentorian, so besotted with associations, that it could not have pleased a conservative Grillparzer aficionado. But happily, nothing is impossible in the theatre. Despite manifold tasteless moments, 'mistakes' and even a miscast lead actor, it was - at least until the intermission - nonetheless a fantastically gripping, intoxicating performance on the Pernerinsel theatre in Hallein, which is by no means an easy stage. Martin Kusej has a firm hand on his craft."

French-German publicist Alfred Grosser writes an essay on the crisis in Europe and the French no to the referendum. "Social dissatisfaction in Great Britain, France, and Germany has a common root. The British media judges fat cats even more harshly than the German media, which takes offence at the rhetoric of Deutsche Bank chairman Josef Ackermann. In all three countries, people jeer that bosses should earn as much as their American colleagues while employees should earn according to Hungarian or Korean standards. Recently in Marseille, workers in a supermarket striked to get their salaries raised by one euro per week. The chain's general director had just been removed from his post for bad management and was given an indemnity of over 20 million euros. Of course you can say the arrogance of business powers is not the fault of Europe. But at the same time, the constitution treaty doesn't foresee any means to limit this power."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 10.08.2005


Gerhard Stadelmaier has taken a look at the coming theatre season in Germany and concludes: "The 2005/2006 season tends heavily to the Left and the devotional." On the one hand, he writes, there is a trend toward Messianic figures like Christoph Schlingensief's "Sadochrist Matthäus" announced at the Burg Theater in Vienna. On the other hand, globalisation is wreaking a much bewailed havoc among authors and directors: "Widespread social gloom, unemployment, capitalism, the failure of politicians and businessmen faced with the tasks of the future, the helplessness and perplexity of the ruling classes: all of that seems to be seeking a theatrical outlet. Or at least a label."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 10.08.2005


Andreas Mauer took in great films and fabulous weather at the film festival in Locarno; the rain began, perhaps appropriately, at the awards ceremony on Saturday evening. "After Wim Wenders (accompanied by German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, Swiss Parliament President Samuel Schmid, Senate President Pascal Couchepin and 8497 other Piazza pilgrims) was presented with the cat of precious metal, his 'Don't Come Knocking' was screened – his 'new' rusty road movie about a over-the-hill Western star which freezes every few minutes in an Edward Hopper tableau. Also regrettable is the inflation of prizes. In addition to Wenders, Abbas Kiarostami and Terry Gilliam were honoured with a Pardo d'Onore, while 'Excellence Awards' were quickly arranged for Susan Sarandon, John Malkovich and camera maestro Vittorio Storaro. The festival's formula was a success: Invitation+Award=Star Appearences, which draws the masses." Mauer was most taken with one star in particular: Susan Sarandon. "Smart, sexy, socially engaged (and with a bit of a cold), she had no end of witticisms up her sleeve. 'Every film is political'; 'the difference between theatre and film acting is the difference between making love and masturbating'; and best, 'I've only come this far because my own plans failed'."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 10.08.2005


Rüdiger Suchsland is very enthusiastic about the 19th Fantasy Film Festival which is touring Germany and currently stationed in Frankfurt. The Asians are the best! He was especially impressed by Derek Lee's most recent film. "With 'One Nite in Mongkok', Derek Lee has turned out his best yet, a film that depicts a life without a future, that takes place in the here and now and at the same time stands in the tradition of Melville and John Woo... it is beautifully directed and has classic elegance. 'One Nite in Mongkok' shows a Chinese countryman who can't read Cantonese or eat with a fork in the capital. At the same time, the film is an example of the new hardness in Hong Kong cinema: a trend towards a non-idealised look at the life of a gangster which was also to be seen in Johnnie Tos 'Election' in this year's competition at Cannes."

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