Oct 16, 2011
In many ways, the German World War I memoir Storm of Steel (1920) by Ernst Jünger is a spiritual antidote to Franco-German author Erich Maria Remarque's absurdly popular pussyfoot anti-war literary diatribe All Quit on the Western Front (1928); a work that would by utilized and adapted as anti-Teutonic filmic-ammo by the glorified gangsters of Sunset Boulevard. Not only was Jünger a superior writer but his work would have a much greater influence on the German populous than Remarque's cowardly defeatist work. Although known for his romantic view of war, Jünger would later become quite disillusioned with the Second World War and most specifically; National Socialism and Adolf Hitler. Apparently, Jünger even played an exceedingly shadowy role in the Stauffenberg bomb plot against Hitler. If one thing is for sure, Jünger never attempted to capitalize off his celebrity as a distinguished and nationalistic anti-liberal writer during the Third Reich era, thus one can only conclude that he was a man of honor who never fell so low as to compromise his idealism for the personal benefit of power and monetary return like so many artists and prominent German figures of his generation. In fact, the most telling example of Jünger's character is that he refused an offer to head the German Academy of Literature and was subsequently banned from writing during the Nazi era. Like sage Radical Traditional Baron Julius Evola (who admired and wrote a book on Jünger), Jünger advocated a sort of aristocratic individualism called “Anarch” in response to an increasingly chaotic and totalitarian world. Jünger also defied the stereotypical conventions of a German nationalist by regularly experimenting and writing about drugs, including (but not limited to) cocaine, weed, and LSD (he even went on “trips” with Albert Hofmann; the inventor of the drug). During the German-occupation of France, Jünger was assigned to an administrative position in Paris. Although banned from writing, Jünger kept an intimate diary about his personal experiences in the slimy frog city and his (for the most part, pessimistic) thoughts on the war. In the experimental documentary One Man’s War (1982) aka La guerre d'un seul homme directed by Argentine auteur Edgardo Cozarinsky, narrations of Jünger’s Parisian diaries are cleverly juxtaposed with German and Vichy propaganda newsreels.
Upon first viewing One Man’s War, it will be quite obvious to the fanatic cinephile that the documentary is a lot like Max Ophüls overrated documentary The Sorrow and The Pity (1969); the main difference being that Cozarinsky’s work is all the more potent and groundbreaking due to its inclusion of Jünger’s narrated diaries. From his earliest diary entries on, it is apparent that Jünger feels his job in Paris is dubious at best. In between meeting fellow artists like poet polymath and cine-magican Jean Cocteau and fellow right-wing anarchist Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Jünger experiences the grand pleasure of witnessing a handsome German deserter being executed via firing-squad and hearing rumors about the mass liquidations of Jews in the East. Jünger also does not shy away from describing a friendly chat he had with a comical French prostitute who jokingly saluted him as if she were a patriotic German soldier. The newsreels featured in One Man’s War range from the latest in tacky Parisian fashion to footage of numerous Frenchmen boarding trains to join the German National Socialist military campaign. The greatest irony of the documentary being that Jünger – a committed lifelong proponent of war and a lover of pain (After all, Jünger is the author of the pro-pain/anti-bourgeois book On Pain) has no faith in the greatest war of the twentieth century and fails to take pleasure in occupying a country which has arguably been Germany’s greatest enemy throughout all of European history. In the excellent book on the intellectual history of National Socialist ideology, Metapolitics : from Wagner and the German Romantics to Hitler (1941), written by German-American Peter Viereck (the son of Nazi propagandist/Philo-semite and purported bastard Grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm I; George Sylvester Viereck), the author makes the claim that German nationalism largely sprung from an inferiority complex Germany obtained by being so severely beaten and brainwashed (with ideas of "liberty") by the French throughout a number of wars over a number of centuries. I don’t know about other people but I personally derived some pleasure from seeing various newsreels of the snobbish French being occupied by a nation that they had once felt infinitely superior to.
Edgardo Cozarinsky also added some more subtle contrasting ingredients to One Man's War that might not be apparent to most viewers upon first viewing the film. Throughout One Man’s War, scores by Aryan composers like Hans Pfitzer and Richard Strauss are coalesced together with music works by Jewish degenerate musicians like Franz Schreker and Arnold Schonberg. Surprisingly, the blending of varying musical styles is fairly unnoticeable and is undoubtedly complementary of the film itself. Speaking of blending Aryans and Jews, a rare newsreel of ¼ Jewish-British fascist propagandist John Amery is also featured in One Man’s War. Not only was Amery a committed fascist of royal Jewish ancestry (his father was Lord and conservative UK MP Leo Amery) but he was also a well known sexual libertine who – like many of the prominent French Vichy collaborators (writers Pierre Eugène Drieu La Rochelle and Robert Brasillach included) – was executed for treason by his respective nation of origin at the conclusion of World War II. That being said, One Man’s War not only proves to be an intriguing and solacing portrait of Vichy France but also an important and equally inventive quasi-Cinéma vérité cultural and artistic visual testimonial like no other. I certainly can not think of another film that so seamlessly weaves cinematic poetry with historical document for a most celestially unruly mix. Despite the sometimes depressive narration of Jünger’s writings and the war torn brutality of the imagery, One Man’s War is for the part a relaxing and mellow cinematic timeline that offers a quite pleasurable experience for World War II fanatics (myself including) and cinephiles alike. Although Jünger’s tone may be melancholic and pessimistic throughout One Man's War, he certainly proves comic (whether intentional or not) in his random ramblings, especially when he remarks in a cynical manner regarding Mongolian volunteers (Germany had the largest multicultural army in human history at the time), "whole tribes of yellow ants have been enrolled." If one is to learn anything from One Man's War, it is that the authoritarian racial collectivism of the National Socialist regime was not up to par with Ernst Jünger’s aristocratic Anarch Weltanschauung.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 10:10 PM
Soiled Sinema 2007 - 2013. All rights reserved. Best viewed in Firefox and Chrome.