Aug 12, 2011

Enchanted Forest

I am not one who enjoys watching poor VHS transfers of films, even if it might satisfy some sort of nostalgic urge. In fact, I purged my fairly large VHS collection a decade or so ago but sometimes I have no choice but to watch a film that has been neglected an appropriate DVD release. I recently viewed a poor (and probably tenth generation) VHS transfer of the Völksch Nationalist Socialist film Enchanted Forest aka Ewiger Wald (1936) directed by Hanns Springer and Rolf von Sonjevski-Jamrowski; a work that churned out an odd mix of mystical awe and a sense of cinematic tragedy upon my fairly cold and mostly impenetrable soul. I have to admit that I was noticeably enthralled by the film due to it's pagan spiritualism but was also discouraged by the realization that the film will most likely never receive anything resembling a proper and respectful release that it undoubtedly deserves. Despite having to endure the poor quality of the copy of the Enchanted Forest I viewed, I can’t think of another film like it that made me romanticize over the lives of my ancient Germanic ancestors. Sure, it must have sucked to live in a time when death was a very probable possibility in everyday life and food was scarce but people during those times were totally at the humbling helm of the organic and they did not have to endure the abstractness of our modern technocratic world. As a child, I had a deep respect for nature, wild animals, the wilderness, and I truly believed that these things were a gift bestowed upon on the world by an all mighty god.  In fact, nothing felt more comforting to me than allowing myself to be swallowed deeply in the pines of local forests that I would frequent in a religious manner. Of course, I still enjoy the outdoors but naturally (or unnaturally), it is virtually impossible for one to live realistically among the leaves and by sleeping under the stars in our deranged day in age. It just so happened that I was reading a book on neo-paganism (Summoning The Gods by Collin Cleary) around the time I first saw Enchanted Forest. One of Cleary’s major points with his book is that, unlike their ancient ancestors, contemporary Westerners have completely lost contact with the very land that they once held sacred. I found it quite interesting that Enchanted Forest, a film and product of somewhat recent technology, was able to duplicate my long dormant love for nature. I certainly did not feel a touch of nature in James Cameron’s epic digital blue turd Avatar (2009); a wholly (but unintentionally) risible pseudo-environmentalist romp into ultra-Hollywood alien-savage-worshiping purgatory. Say what you will about the Third Reich, but at least their state commissioned filmmakers had no difficulty assembling films that depicted absolute beauty in it's most organically magical yet orthodox form. 

The Nazis themselves proclaimed blood and soil as their ideology and quasi-religion but also led the world in technological advancement and I see Enchanted Forest itself as one of truest expressions of their brief anachronistic empire of healthy blood and monolithic industrial progress. If I wanted to illustrate to an illiterate what the spiritual essence of National Socialist Germany was, I would show them Enchanted Forest. Sure, Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will (1935) exquisitely documented the aesthetic properties and cheerful folk of Nazi Germany yet the film fails to dream up (not that it really intended to) the true Nazi spirit of ancestor worship. In our modern materialistic world, humans look at all things (both living and not) as objects to be manipulated or utilized to their advantage as opposed to appreciating and humbly respecting the "being" (as German philosopher Martin Heidegger would say) of a particular thing. The Nazis may not have respected certain groups of people but they surely respected their land and their Völk simply for "being." One of the reasons the National Socialists despised the Judaics so much is due to their deracinated anti-nature-nature and their collective cosmopolitan homelessness, thus it should be no surprise that the Nazis originally (early on during World War II) paid for Jews to immigrate to Palestine to establish Israel (their first homeland in thousands of years). Naturally, Hollywood films have always lacked a certain authenticity in regard to portraying different cultures, nations, and peoples as they lack respect in regard to rootedness and anything of an organic nature, and for this reason, their films have always suffered from a sickening artificiality, hence why they tend to produce so many deplorable neo-vaudevillian comedies (a subject they know oh so well) full of infantile sexuality and repellant scat humor. Despite having unlimited funds and state-of-the-art technology, most of the filmmakers working in Hollywood lack the instincts to produce a film so close to nature as Enchanted Forest because the work permeates emotions that are totally alien to the culture-blind boys of Tinseltown.  Believe it or not, money can't buy everything, especially when it comes to something that is passed down through blood.

It would probably baffle a lot of Hollywood green activists actors and Americans in general, to know that National Socialist Germany was arguably the first country to endorse environmentalist policies but this will be no surprise to anyone that has seen Enchanted Forest as the film treats the majestic allure of nature in a most elegant and enriching manner. Of course, the film will be of interest to any serious lover of uncultivated beauty despite whatever political persuasion they may hold. After all, man may have lost faith in god due to technology but few can deny the irreplaceable creations of Mother Nature and her supreme omnipotence and wholly plentiful pulchritude. Enchanted Forest begins in pagan Europe and concludes in Christianized Europe, and as the times change, war only becomes more sophisticated and deadly beneath the alien cross of Christ. The irony of technology is that man has only managed to speed up the death of his fellow man with his“advancement.” For me, the greatest message (whether it was the filmmaker’s intention or not) of Enchanted Forest is that the farther away man falls from nature, the closer he is to his own miserable demise.  Man, most specifically Faustian man, has proven to be the only living organism that has had the gall to wage war against nature, but, of course, he is no match for his all-power enemy and will inevitably fail. As German philosopher Oswald Spengler explained in his 1931 work Man and Technics, technology has only sped up the death of the Occident and given his enemies weapons to use against him, thus, it is only a matter of time before the ultimate showdown begins.  On a lighter note, I would be lying if I did not admit that Enchanted Forest gave me nostalgia for a time that I have never experienced but hopelessly yearn for in a most instinctive manner.  I am sure that there are others that will also feel an atavistic awakening while watching the film.  Enchanted Forest is like a painting by Fidus come to life, only more masculine and domineering and without super-skinny-proto-hippie-nudists.  By the conclusion of Enchanted Forest, you may not be worshiping the black sun but you will have taken a virtual mini-epic journey through the ages of Europe on land, water, and forgotten battlefields where one's ancestors use to earn their livelihood from.  That being said, maybe it is time for me to learn the secrets of the runes. 

-Ty E


Anonymous said...

First a current blockbuster from the multi-plexes then an art movie from 75 years ago, this site certainly cannot be faulted with regards to its cinematic diversity.

piety piet said...

your chance to prove yourselves buff you bufnessies

i spent hours already but cannot discover who is singing the Vogelweide poem 'Minne als Botin' and/or the one just after that in the copy i found .. there's a site that offers 3 versions of lots.

he sings "lass dir mein leben sein geweiht" (translation of 1833 of a Vogelweide poem)
24 and a half minute

great bass

Soiled Sinema said...

Poems by: Albert Graf von Pestalozza an Carl Maria Holzapfel

Narration/Voices: Günther Hadank, Heinz Herkommer, Paul Klinger, Lothar Körner, Aribert Mog, Kurt Wieschala

An academic article on the film: