23/02/2006

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.

"Valley of the Wolves" - a hate film?

The feuilletons continue to debate the unhappy fate of the Turkish film "Valley of the Wolves" in Germany (more here).

As the cinema chain CinemaxX pulls the film from its program and CDU politicians, who presumably have not seen the film, claim that it incites hatred, Fitz Göttler writes in the Suddeutsche Zeitung, "The more heated the discussion over the film gets, the more it tends toward absurdity (...). The danger of the hate-film thing is the hooliganisation of the audience that it implies. Do we really think that 'Valley of the Wolves' is going to draw an audience of Turkish youth in leather jackets with switchblades in their jeans pockets who, after being turned on by the film, are going to go out onto the streets and wreak havoc? An aggressive audience that has never learned to distinguish between reality and fiction? In truth, it's a rather bourgeois audience that's going to see the film and they're quite enjoying the fact that at the end, a Turkish hero actually prevails."

Die Zeit offers both pro and contra positions. Christoph Siemes criticises the "appetite for fear" being conjured up by colleagues who suggest a repression of locals by migrants. He calls for moderation. "Should the Bundesrepublik, after it has finally brought itself to accept that it is a country of immigration, now castrate its immigrants to ensure they don't take the upper hand?" Jörg Lau fears, on the other hand, that the German Turks who applaud at the end of the nationalist movie will internally distance themselves from the West. Susanne Güsten suggests that part of the film's success is to be explained with its evocation of the glorious Ottoman empire.


Der Tagesspiegel, 23.02.2006

Author Peter Schneider writes on Islam, the West and the promise of freedom: "With over 20 million Muslim migrants, Europe has brought the conflict with Islam onto its home turf. And now it is challenged to defend its values and principles both at home and abroad. The inner lines of conflict which we are seeing in current discussions on integration, forced marriage, the 'Muslim Test' (more here) and the cartoon conflict display three broad themes: equality and sexual self-determination of women and homosexuals; freedom of opinion and the press; and the rights of the secular vis-à-vis the sacral world. In a nutshell, the conflict puts in question some of the major achievements of the Enlightenment, the foundation of secular Western societies. The West can only negotiate these questions at the risk of repudiating its soul." Schneider concludes: "Islam doesn't need a protective clause against caricatures and critique. What it really needs is an escape clause, a readiness to open itself up to the modern world in which Muslims have also been living for a long time – and a commemoration of the heroes of its own betrayed Renaissance."
See our feature "The panic savers" by Peter Schneider.


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 23.02.2006

The SZ prints a speech by Hungarian author Peter Esterhazy in honour of writer and translator Zsuzsanna Gahse, who was awarded the Chamisso Prize for foreign authors last week: "Today there are conspicuously many Hungarian women writers in the world, all of whom write prose: Zsuzsanna Gahse, Teresia Mora, Agota Kristof, Zsuzsa Bank, Christina Viragh. Is it possible that Hungary drives its women prose authors from the country with its intolerance? Is that what Hungarians have become notorious for, their intolerance of women prose writers? That and their goulash? Do we have to talk of an open season, a manhunt on women prose writers? Is this a reflex we brought with us from the Far East? Or is the opposite the case? Did these women become prose authors because they left? And if they had stayed at home would they have written poetry, or nothing at all? A woman should be a poet, and/or a good cook."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 23.02.2006

Eleonore Büning has travelled to Tokyo, where the Stuttgart Staatsoper performed Peter Konwitschny's staging of Mozart's "The Magic Flute" to sold-out crowds. The performance crowns the collaboration of artistic director Klaus Zehelein and musical director Lothar Zagrosek, both of whom will leave the opera at the end of the season. "Konwitschny's staging of 'The Magic Flute' breaks down the boundaries between solemness and satire, deeper meaning and the shallowest entertainment. It is a fast-moving game and the stage is as empty as for a Brecht play. The production holds its own with neither Egyptian trappings nor a fairy tale tone, and above all without illusions. The entire ensemble is electrifyingly present. The orchestra plays with sharp modulation and little vibrato, an almost naked sound. Lothar Zagrosek brings out a translucency in the movements to astonishing effect – when did we ever hear the bassoon scoffing so cheekily during the tirades of the Queen of the Night?"


Die Tageszeitung, 23.02.06

"Turquoise like grass and pink like love is the candy coloured world of 'Tears of the Black Tiger.' It is, in other words, a world of exquisite artificiality," raves Ekkerhard Knörer about Wisit Sasanatieng's Eastern melodrama. "Sasantieng stages his six ridiculous stories with extreme care, he shot the film over no less than eight months. There are no end of grandiose or at least adequately crazy ideas.... The film moves on a razor sharp line between parody and pastiche. Sasanatieng's exercises hardly ever slide into the realm of mere exaggerated jokes. And he never simply imitates the melodramas that he so admires. Rather, he takes his models, disassembles them and then puts them together in novel ways, different but recognisable. A process that can be called deconstruction. Words cannot describe the explosive craziness of the results."

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