Dec 14, 2012

Beer Chase




Once again paying penetrating anti-homage to the South German state he loves to hate, rural Bavaria, absurdist arthouse comedian Herbert Achternbusch’s Bierkampf (1977) aka Beer Chase is a film about the collective hyper-hedonistic mass hysteria that is the distinctly Bavarian Oktoberfest – a 16-day festival celebrating the krauts' greatest vice; beer – in all of its gutter-level glory. Starring Achternbusch himself in the rather ridiculous role of an unloved, unlikeable, and disrespected roguish police officer who gets his kicks by kicking people and acting like an all-around Bavarian buffoon, Beer Chase is the sort of quasi-gonzo-style mockumentary/documentary/narrative hybrid that psychopathic Sacha Baron Cohen would later seemingly mimic with his Semitic slapstick scat pieces like Borat (2006) and The Dictator (2012), although on a somewhat less personal and insightful level. To say that arthouse agitator Achternbusch seems to have a great sense of shame and disdain for his Bavarian friends and family would be an unsound understatement as his films, especially Beer Chase, feature the same sort of ethno-masochistic mockery of kraut kultur that would predominate in the artistic works of German Dadaist George Grosz – a supposed true blue heinee who created curious and callous caricatures of German figures as subhuman untermensch – albeit to a more realistic, intimate, and obnoxious degree. Featuring a self-loathing Afro-Bavarian, an authentic Bavarian in blackface, a theology student who has lost the faith and now hocks cigs and cigars like a Pakistani street merchant, an elderly man who lost his dream of being able to compose orchestras after catching frostbite on his fingers during his tour of Stalingrad, and a slew of sexually repressed authoritarian wives and emasculated, embittered men, Beer Chase is the sort of anti-völkisch and peasant-parodying piece that is contra to everything National Socialism was all about, aside from the bodacious barroom beer-chugging of the brownshirts, yet without the Hebraic hate of Unholy-Wood to taint the tomfoolery of this distinctly ‘German comedy’ with the sort of mundane Mel Brooks-esque mumbo jumbo of the kosher conman persuasion that has been beaten to death since the Second World War. In other words, Beer Chase was sown in the banal backwoods of Achternbusch’s Bavaria as opposed to Vaudeville or some Polish shtetl and for that reason alone makes Beer Chase worth the price of admission. 



 I would be lying if I did not admit that I hate all forms of alcohol, especially beer, as well as bar-dwelling drunkards, novice teenage alcoholics, inebriated vagrants, crypto-alcoholic soccer moms, belligerent bee-bopping black drunks, piss drunk punks, muddled heavy metal morons, pissed preppy pompous asses, bourgeois beer connoisseurs, wine-sniffing wimps, and just about every other dipsomaniac dipshit disposition, but I have slightly less animosity for drunken rednecks, at least of the patently pathetic and, in turn, unintentionally humorous kind, which is luckily the sort of debauched drinker type that is most prominent in Beer Chase; an unlove letter to the Bavarian everyman, the bumpkin barfly whose only source of solace in life is enjoying a cold glass of brewsky with his equally pitiable compatriots. In Beer Chase, movie-masochist marvel Herbert Achternbusch – a man that prides himself on getting in trouble on and off camera – stars as anti-hero ‘Herbert, Polizist’ who pits himself against these poor peasant and pisswater-possessed souls as a hysterical human-punching-bag who goes from table to table inciting individuals by using a variety of moronic and boorish antagonizing tactics at a large ‘Oktoberfest’ festival in Bavaria. As a swarthy police man with large black curls and a matching mustache, Achternbusch – the master of German arthouse disguise in a role that is typically contra to his true character – seems most authentic as a despairing fellow that is fed up with life and especially his nagging wife who, like everyone he knows and doesn't know, treats him like pure scheiße, but to a more extreme degree because as she tells her hubby, “with me – life sentence”; a very real hell that neither will dare escape from as it would be far too taboo for such conservative blue-collar types to dissolve their ill-fated marriage.  Crestfallen cop Herbert also seems quite apathetic towards his job, so much so that he allows an upside-down naked man, obviously in great distress as he is furiously kicking at the air, to sink to his demise without lifting a finger to help. Herbert is not the only miserable fellow in town, as a handsome yet humorless theology student turned cigarette-peddler who may or may not be the police officer’s brother believes quite seriously that, “There is no salvation in the world, yet. There cannot be salvation in the world because there is no world, yet. What you see here cannot be the world.” But, of course, the miserable existence these Bavarian proletarians call life is their world and a rather real yet redundant one at that, hence why they celebrate inane inebriation  for 16 liver-busting days every October to escape from this world and the dreariness of their horribly humdrum lives. 



 Totally blurring the line between fiction and reality, especially during the second half of the film, Beer Chase ironically gets the most interesting and unbelievable during the real-life scenes at Oktoberfest where the contrived character of policeman Herbert literally bumps heads and beer mugs with the real world for the most ridiculous and looney of consequences, as if the silent humor of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton was to meet the absurdist realism of a Werner Herzog film. Of course, some of the scenes set during the Oktoberfest are contrived, including a conversation with a black Bavarian who states, “I always say, I prefer a Negro to a woman…A Negro has a brain too…How are things in Uganda?” in a most bizarre manner as if this Negro – who has a striking resemblance to Ugandan dictator Idi Amin (who was still in power during the time of the film's production) – has fully assimilated himself into a banal Bavarian way of life, so much so that he has consummately forgotten his Bantu roots, yet other scenes are totally indistinguishable from reality and fiction, hence the low-brow comedic genius of Beer Chase. At the conclusion of Beer Chase, policeman Herbert goes on an insane rant as if he is experiencing some sort of pornographic psychological break, stating to countless people that “Today I will kill his sod meat! Adieu!....Adieu!” after proclaiming that he has sexually ravaged and impregnated 100 Frauen, thereupon signaling the beginning of the end of the Oktoberfest festivities.


 In the end, the drunken policeman lays face down in an undignified manner among trash and other debris left by the seemingly barbarian Bavarian beer devotees, an eventful event that his compatriots remark was the natural result of "a zero" who "wants to be something. A policeman, of all things” that has "killed him,  the zero..” In a display of what is surely a parody of stereotypical female narcissism, Herbert's mistress also remarks, “How can someone I like kill himself!” and his widow, in a separate scene, similarly declares that their life together amounted to “nothing” in a decidedly cold manner.  Like most of Achternbusch’s films, the memory of National Socialism is sprinkled throughout Beer Chase such as Herbert mistaking the sound of a brass horn instrument for the Wehrmacht marching band, which is especially interesting when one considers that during World War II, from 1939 to 1945, Oktoberfest was discontinued and Oktoberfest beer (which is 2% more alcohol than normal beer) was banned, thus it seems rather ironic that the backslider Bavarian auteur would depict the festival as the height of South German imbecility, especially when considering his hatred of all things associated with the Third Reich.  Thus, one can only assume that Achternbusch – who was born and raised in the land he can't just seem to forget, let alone depict cinematically – hates just about everything and anything distinctly Bavarian, even more so than the Nazis.  Ironically, Beer Chase is probably the only film directed by the kaiser of avant-garde German comedy that would be accessible to peasants, especially of the Bavarian brand, and one of the very few truly "proletarian" cinematic slapstick pieces.  Say what you will about bacchanalian hillbilly folk, but they are usually the people that are the least inhibited about laughing at themselves and I would not be surprised if Beer Chase is considered a clodhopper cult classic of sorts in Bavaria.  I, for one, as an adamant opponent of alcohol, cannot think of another film that made drunken debauchery with homely women and frenzied fists over spilled beer mugs seem like a delectable affair.


-Ty E

10 comments:

jervaise brooke hamster said...

The police geezer and the laughing geezer look like faggots.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

"Semitic slapstick" ! ! !, once again you had to have a dig at the fact that Cohen is a Jew, i`ve told you before, Sasha Baron Cohen is indeed a worthless pile of dog-shit, not because hes a Jew, but rather because hes British scum and a dirty fag-enabler, try to remember that Ty E will ya`.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

He looks like a cross between Paul Michael Glaser and that British scumbag John Cleese.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Ty E, i fell about laughing when i read that list of all the different kinds of drunken bastards that you hate and despise, hilarious my old mate, absolutely hilarious.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Of course there is no salvation, how could there be when those British bastards have been systematically destroying the world for the last 1500 years ! ! !.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Buster Keaton was a great comedian but Charlie Chaplin was dog-shit simply because he was British.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Although i`m totally contemptuous of alcohol its still interesting to note that vast numbers of people who attend the Oktoberfest say that the beer available there is about 1000 times better than the swill that they sell in Britain.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

This was released in `77 so it must have been filmed at the Oktoberfest of `76 which was also the 30th anniversary of the restart in `46 after the break for the Nazi bastards, i wonder if they had naked Heather O`Rourke lookalikes wandering around as an extra treat ! ?.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

If they were being honest there are a lot of British scumbags who have much greater feelings of kinship, respect, and commaradarie with their Kraut counterparts than they do for their fellow British filth. Its because they know in their heart-of-hearts that Krauts are infinitely superior in every way to inferior British limey dog-shit.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Werner Herzog is finally becoming a Hollywood superstar, good for him, hes had to wait 70 years but hes finally arrived (as it were) ! ! !.