Indeed, The Patriot is undoubtedly a film that must be seen multiples times to be digested properly, but that presupposes that it is a cinematic work that is worth seeing in the first place, which is dubious at best, unless you happen to be a ‘true believer’ whose doctrine is that somewhere in proximity with the ‘New Left,’ or someone who wants to understand how the contemporary, ethno-masochistic German artistic/academic thinks and feels. At the conclusion of The Patriot, Kluge even went as far as pure obfuscation of meaning, stating in regarding to a scene of the ‘talking knee’ speaking in the dead language of Latin that, “When the knee speaks Latin, I do not at all assume that anyone understands that, at least not anyone who interests me as a viewer,” thus highlighting (if one does their homework), in a needlessly esoteric way, a time when knowledge of history was restricted to a small minority of individuals. Of course, today history has been ‘democratized,’ at least to some extent (but certainly not in Germany and many other European nations where it is a criminal offense to disagree with certain elements of 20th century history, especially the sort that Kluge has spent his life and career dwelling on), but as demonstrated by protagonist Gabi Teichert of The Patriot, who, “was sure the material for history lessons at the advanced level was deficient,” people tend to believe the version of history they want to believe, or at least the version of history that has been beat into their brain since birth because, after all, no one enjoys cognitive dissonance. Although, as narrated in The Patriot that, “It’s hard to present a patriotic version of German history,” things would be quite different if Germany had won the Second World War, as it is quite doubtful that the “The Holocaust” would still be described as the most horrible and tragic event in human history, as it is today as a result of the victor's version of history becoming the 'official' history of the Second World War. Probably not. If Germany had won the war, the Holocaust (which would undoubtedly not be called "The Holocaust"; with the phrase itself not being actively promoted until the mid-1970s by American/Israeli Zionist circles) would probably be portrayed as a noble and necessary campaign against a hostile enemy, if mentioned at all, but few are willing to question the subjectivity of history, not even Alexander Kluge. If The Patriot does anything of value, it is opening up the viewer’s mind to the complexity and indefiniteness of history in a variety of both personal and political ways. For example, early on in The Patriot, documentary footage of British bomber pilots who, “have not learned anything definite about Germany. They have just expertly shot up the country for eighteen hours. Now they are returning to their quarter to sleep,” but they are quite pride of the fact that “Total 950 Kaput Krauts” (i.e. they killed 950 Germans) despite their lack of understanding of German people, kultur, and history because their context for ‘understanding’ the country’s history is that of defeating an enemy nation and not understanding it on any personal or ‘objective’ academic level. Of course, Kluge, who personally experienced the terror bombings of the British, sees that particular history from a totally different perspective.
As Corporal Wieland states in The Patriot, “In the name of the dead of Germany and the 6th Army, I’d now like to express my principle views. If everyone can speak, so can I. A dead knee sees things a bit differently. For example, Bismarck, who is said to have made history…Often I’m asked where I learned so much. It’s a mistake to think that the printed matter in libraries is related to history. We, the dead and their parts, are history. Every cell that doesn’t want to die knows everything, from the beginning right to the very end. Only the quarrelsome brain doesn’t. We dead cells know everything and have reason to. The resurrection of the dead, and who really wants to die, presupposes a thorough knowledge of history. Basically I’m a historical expert. Other dead colleagues refer to me as the ‘Father of Accuracy’,” but he also later admits, “Note that a knee strides forward in principle. Over 2,000 km to Stalingrad, it bends and stretches every half metre, directed by an obstinate brain that’s still there and has no more to say. Some say I use the word ‘principle’ too much. Quite right. It’s a habit I picked up from Corporal Wieland’s brain. I always said ‘principle’ when it was under pressure. I myself have no principles, just a firm will to survive.” Holocaust survivor, novelist, and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel certainly has principles, but one can only wonder what account of history his circumcised member has to tell or at least the members of his racial kinsmen, at least judging by the original Yiddish version of his novel Night (1955) where the writer reveals that certain concentration camp survivors ran off to "fargvaldikn daytshe shikses" ("rape German shiksas" aka "impure German women") so as to seek Jewish revenge for aggressive Nazi antisemitism. That being said, if one where to use Kluge’s The Patriot as a guide for interpreting history, one can only guess the historical value of films like Spielberg’s Schindler's List (1993) and Saving Private Ryan (1998), but something tells me that the director’s friend/mentor Theodor W. Adorno had already made up his mind on such historical matters and would give the films his full approval, at least judging by his rather subjective and exceedingly emotional quote, “Writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.” If Kluge considers himself a poet and his film The Patriot is, in turn, a work of celluloid poetry, I guess then, at least going by Adorno’s logic, the filmmaker is a kraut barbarian.