Mar 27, 2013


While I appreciate the fact that the auteur filmmakers of German New Cinema opted for creating revolutionary cinematic works that were thematically and aesthetically antagonistic against "Papas Kino" and Hollywood, I would be lying if I did not admit that I have complete and utter respect for anti-intellectual auteur Roland Klick (Bübchen, White Star) for rebelling against his more cultivated and philosophical countrymen by creating gritty action films that remind viewers that not all krauts had their testicles stomped in after the Second World War. While his anarchistic psychedelic western Deadlock (1970) will always be my favorite work of truly brutal celluloid grit from the avant-garde action auteur Klick, his subsequent cinematic work Supermarkt (1974) – a fierce and unflinching flick centering around a fucked teen rebel who lives on the streets of Hamburg and who gets involved with dubious smalltime crooks, jaded journalists, posh poofs, and less than pretty prostitutes – is no less enthralling with its gusty guerrilla style direction, suave subversiveness, and decidedly busted moral compass. Described by its distribution company filmgalerie451 as being, “Between "The French Connection" and "Rebel Without A Cause", "Supermarket" is rightfully regarded as a cult classic of German cinema,” Supermarkt is indeed an uncompromising crossbreed between action-packed nihilism and sexually and morally confused teen rebellion that does to action-crime flicks and the city of Hamburg – a place that seems to have only superficially recovered from the firebombings it experienced during the Second World War – what Shadow of Angels (1976) aka Schatten der Engel directed by Daniel Schmid did for campy and morbid melodrama and the seemingly shitty city of Frankfurt. A more immaculate yet no less brassy depiction of the unruly criminal subcultures of Hamburg as portrayed in Klaus Lemke’s cult flick Rocker (1972), Supermarkt depicts a spiritually and socially devitalized post-industrial hellhole where both criminals and everyday citizens are colder than death, posh pederasts pay top dollar for teenage twinks and homely hookers peddle their putrefied pussies to support their forsaken bastard children, love is not even worthy of being described as an illusion, and journalists are more interested in hanging out with outlaws than their wives and work. Featuring groundbreaking cinematography from Jost Vacano, who would later provide his talents to Das Boot (1981) directed by Wolfgang Petersen and Robocop (1987), as well as virtually every other Paul Verhoeven flick, Supermarkt is arguably the first film to feature Steadicam-style camera work despite predating the release of the official Steadicam by two years, thus making for a hypnotic form of action cinema that throws the viewer into a Teutonic ghetto of erratic ecstasy and audaciously afflicting angst. If Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo (1981), which directer Roland Klick was originally supposed to direct before he was fired by producer Bernd Eichinger, had a filmic big brother that was not addicted to heroin, it is most certainly Supermarkt – a crusty yet charismatic celluloid story from the seedy city streets that treats aimless crime as a crude yet compulsory way of life. 

Willi (played by non-actor Charly Wierczejewski in his first film role) has a wayward way of life as a handsome yet homeless teenage-rebel-by-default who must do whatever he needs to survive while dogging Hamburg cops and much more corrupt criminals, including thieving and prostituting himself to despicable degenerates of the independently wealthy sort. During the beginning of Supermarkt, Willi runs away from the police for what seems to be no reason at all as he has committed no crime, but he is arrested any way and he and another teenage troublemaker make a getaway from the crowed police station, almost running over a cop with a stolen car in the process, thus ushering in the Weltschmerz-ridden anti-hero’s life as a feral-like fugitive of the law. To make ends meet, Willi has united with a highly manipulative middle-aged career criminal named Theo (Walter Kohut) who devises a pathetic scheme where the boy pretends to be a hustler and lures in wealthy homosexuals so the twosome can beat and rob them. Of course, being a rather empathetic fellow for a criminally-inclined teenage thug, Willi botches the plan and allows the John to escape and ends up brutally beating Theo in the process. The same homosexual (Hans-Michael Rehberg) offers Willi a ride in his car and the teen makes the mistake of accepting it and is ultimately sadistically sodomized by the affluent fairy who lives in an art-adorned manor with his Mommy. When Willi later attempts to collect the money he earned for reluctantly allowing the prick of a poofter to anally penetrate him, things go wrong when the fudge-packer makes the fatal error of belittling the boy due to his blatant lack of social prestige, henceforth resulting in the fickle fairy’s gruesome death. Although playing wide receiver on the pink team, Willi falls in love with a less than pretty prostitute named Monika (Fassbinder graduate Eva Mattes) who sports a tasteless blonde wig and a greasy pizza face full of unflattering zits. Although Willi’s willy fails to ‘rise to the occasion’ during an intimate moment with Monika, the prostitute loves the young hoodlum because he treats her little boy in a fatherly fashion and she has yet to meet another man that displays such gentlemanly behavior. Willi is also helped by an idealistic journalist named Frank (Michael Degen) whose wife resents the boy and the oddly obsessive interest her husband shows to him, but the young mensch cannot completely trust the career scribbler as a teenage murderer and fugitive of the law who is on the run, so he seeks sanctuary elsewhere. A radically romantic lady’s man, Willi hatches a master criminal plot with the philistine thug Theo to rob a supermarket's money transporter, but with the cops circling in on him and with a drunken and conspiring moron for a partner, the outlaw youth does not exactly have luck on his side, but he does have a stalwart spirit and an unconquerable will to survive.

Due to the seething hatred and criticism he received from his fellow German filmmakers and film critics, anarchic Aryan apostate auteur Roland Klick has remained a marginal figure of cinema both in his homeland and abroad, which is quite ridiculous considering he created highly accessible cinematic works like Supermarkt that do the seemingly impossible by bringing art and poetry to a terribly tactless genre that has traditionally been the celluloid equivalent of junk food. Breaking countless conventions of the outmoded genre, Supermarkt portrays a fellow whose crude criminality is a result of circumstance and not a contrived sort of action-hero courage, and who experiences the ultimate form of denigration and emasculation via anal penetration by an opulent queen who in his bourgeois arrogance, even tries to get out of paying the gay-for-pay anti-hero, thereupon demystifying the "rebel" archetype in the process. Indeed, as someone who is willing to risk his life for a girl he seems to have no desire to fornicate with, Willi is like a fallen saint in a post-industrial Sodom and a Teutonic teenage Travis Bickle who is willing to sacrifice everything (not that he has much, aside from his earthly life to spare) so that a bastard baby boy and his streetwalker of a mother can live a relatively normal life, even if it is with stolen money earned in a robbery that results in a freak death or two.

If one were to go by Supermarkt as a frame of reference, it is quite obvious that director Roland Klick would have churned out a superior and all the more seedy film had he been the one to direct Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo as planned as opposed to for-hire, semi-hack Uli Edel (Body of Evidence, Der Baader Meinhof Komplex), but instead, the auteur has only gone on to direct to a couple more disappointing features, including the excess-laden punk flick White Star (1983), which was ultimately sabotaged by its cokehead star Dennis Hopper’s incessant searches for nose candy, and a number of TV movies for US networks under a pseudonym. It seems that, like his enemies from German New Cinema, Klick can no longer procure the funds he needs to make films, so maybe it is about time he visits a supermarket.

-Ty E

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A wonderful work of art, and a vile spit in the face of the naive bourgeoisie
fantasies of rebellelion and revolution. Klick deserves recognition and honour for his genuine description of life on the marginal points of society. He has no interest in glorfication or childish ideals. Instead the street criminal is depicted as the tragic anti-hero he often is. Driven by ideals, but condemned from the beginning. Far from the house-nigger glorifications of criminal activities sold as a product by selfmade slaves of gangster rap, poseurs who sell their people for a quick buck from the music industry. This is a tale of true criminlaity in all it's desperation and sorrow. The ending does not give any answers. It is the viewer who has to make the change. Scorcese pales in comparsison to this anti-romantic crime story.