DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
GERMANY IN AUTUMN (DEUTSCHLAND IM HERBST) (directors: Alexander Kluge/Alf Brustellin/Rainer Werner Fassbinder/Bernhard Sinkel/Hans Peter Cloos/Katja Rupé/Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus/Maximiliane Mainka/Peter Schubert/Edgar Reitz/Volker Schlöndorff; screenwriter: Alf Brustellin/Henrich Boll/Peter SteinBach; cinematographer: Michael Ballhaus/Jergen Jurges/Bodo Kessler/Dietrich Lohmann/Colin Mounier/Jorg-Schmidt-Reitwein; editor: Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus; music: Ennio Morricone/Katja Rupé/Hans Peter Cloos/Angela Winkler/Vadim Glowna/Helmet Griem/Mario Adorf/Armin Meier; cast: Horst Mahler (Himself), Helmut Griem (Mahler's interviewer), Katja Rupé (Franziska Busch), Hannelore Hoger (Gabi Teichert), Alexander Kluge (narrator); Runtime: 119; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Theo Hinz/Herbert Kerz; Facets Video; 1978-Germany-in German with English subtitles)

 
"Though events happened over thirty years ago, the film is still relevant, exciting, urgent and mind-blowing, as its fictions and truths merge as one hell of an arty way to have a debate over terrorism."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Alexander Kluge was the main organizer of a bunch of noted German New Wave filmmakers (Alf Brustellin/Rainer Werner Fassbinder/Bernhard Sinkel/Hans Peter Cloos/Katja Rupé/Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus/Maximiliane Mainka/Peter Schubert/Edgar Reitz/and Volker Schlöndorff) to make this collaborative movie that contains nine short fiction and non-fiction documentary films reflecting, in an essay form, on the terrorist kidnapping and killing of prominent German industrialist Hanns-Martin Schleyer in the fall of 1977.

The film is book-ended by two funerals--the industrialist's at the beginning and at the end the three terrorist killers, Andreas Baader, Gudrun Enslin, and Jean-Carl Raspe, members of the notorious Baader-Meinhof gang (also known as the RAF), at the maximum-security Stammheim Prison at Stuttgart. Their mysterious deaths were called suicides by the German authorities, but state murder by the left. 

Kluge's segment has teacher Gabi Teichert uncover Germany's liking for acrimonious nationalism. Fassbinder's segment, filmed in his apartment, is personal, showing him engage in heated conversation with his uncaring male lover about terrorism and bullying his mother about her willingness to forgo democratic principles to punish the terrorists like they did the vic and that she would even welcome back the old-school authoritarian leaders from the past to attain stability in the country. An upset Fassbinder goes into a rant about democracy, dumps his lover, gets drunk, snorts drugs and vomits in the toilet. It was the film's most potent segment, because it was an animated Fassbinder bravely showing us his true feelings in unadulterated terms. Other segments that caught my fancy were the following: the interview from prison of RAF (Red Army Faction) co-founder Horst Mahler. The articulate lawyer is now serving a 14-year prison term for his terrorist activities, and makes a case why terrorists and revolutionaries were once needed on moral grounds to stamp out the remnants of fascism still remaining in German society but are no longer needed; and, the laughable one directed by Volker Schlöndorff and scripted by novelist Boll and Schlöndorff, of empty suit TV producers explaining why it's imperative that they censor the upcoming presentation of Sophocles 5th century B.C. play Antigone for its political references because the young might misinterpret it for a call for subversion.

Though events happened over thirty years ago, the film is still relevant, exciting, urgent and mind-blowing, as its fictions and truths merge as one hell of an arty way to have a debate over terrorism.

REVIEWED ON 3/5/2011       GRADE: A-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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