Apr 20, 2013

No Mercy, No Future

At the beginning of her independently financed arthouse effort Die Berührte aka (1981) No Mercy, No Future, New German Cinema feminist auteur Helma Sanders-Brahms (Germany, Pale Mother, My Heart Is Mine Alone) provided the following disclaimer: “This film began with a letter: Make a film of my story! The woman who wrote it is regarded as schizophrenic. Today, she is almost cured, according to the doctors. The various film boards and TV channels…were not prepared to participate in this project. It was realized never the less…through the enthusiasm of those involved…and with the means at my disposal.” Indeed, with the central protagonist of No Mercy, No Future, who is based on a real-life woman simply credited as “Rita G.,” being a young and vulnerable nymphomaniac schizophrenic girl who swaps sexual secretions with random strangers of dubious motives, including old men, wheelchair-bound cripples, and Negroes and Arabs, because she firmly believes they embody Christ when she is not attempting to commit suicide in a variety of bloody and/or unflattering fashions, one can see why West German producers would be a bit hesitant about funding such a melancholy and even sometimes macabre melodrama. Rarely plodding and pedantic like the majority of Helma Sanders-Brahms’ films yet just as challenging (if not more so), No Mercy, No Future also stands out among the filmmaker's oeuvre in that it is not a period piece nor biopic, but a work set in the present in a divided post-industrial Berlin that is a seemingly miserable and abhorrent bottomless abyss of alienation and societal capitulation where so-called foreign ‘guest workers’ feed on the putrefying corpse that is the Occident, national kulture has become deracinated, and family ties are all bet irreparably broken. Featuring music from kraut synth musician Harald Grosskopf, who has played with Wallenstein, Ash Ra Tempel, and Klaus Schulze, among others, No Mercy, No Future is a thematically and vaguely aesthetically audacious work where Sanders-Brahms actually confronts the cold Teutonic cadaver that is the German present, using a sad yet sickeningly sensual schizophrenic who, despite all the traumatic experiences in her life indicating the opposite, cannot help but fanatically believe that she is “God’s favorite daughter,” even if, as she so eloquently states, “We’re all assholes.” The innately delusional and deranged victim of pathetic men who have a weakness for taking sexual advantage of a girl who literally believes God is coming inside of her as they fiendish bust their unsavory load behind her maniac meat curtain, No Mercy, No Future is certainly a film where one is left with the impression that everyone is an asshole looking to invade the asshole of someone else. 

 Veronika Christoph (played by Sanders-Brahms' regular Elisabeth Stepanek, who looks like a Slav and has a Slavic name) has some serious problems and it is not just due to the fact that she is emotionally and mentally schizophrenic, but also due to the unfortunate fact that people, especially weak and pathetic individuals, regularly take advantage of her due to her mental incompetency and general passivity. Early on in No Mercy, No Future, Veronika assumedly loses her virginity (her thigh is covered in blood) after a sleazy middle-aged office worker type quasi-rapes her and, being a passive and compliant individual who is totally ignorant to the unsavory intentions of others, she accepts the feebly executed attack of forced entry without much of a real fight. After she realizes she has been irrevocably deflowered, Veronika cries out, “Christ, my Lord!” repeatedly in a hysterical manner as her perverted anti-playboy of a predator makes a rather pathetic attempt at apologizing, stating in a less than sincere manner, “There’s nothing wrong. It’s not so bad…You’re a woman…I can’t undo what’s been done. I’m so sorry, but it’s happened now.” And, indeed, the rapist could not have said truer words as Veronika is forever changed and comes under the spell of her own cognitive dissonance as a disturbed woman obsessed with Christian iconography who now sees Christ in every creepy man who wants to get in the virtual paradise on earth that is in her panties. The prodigal daughter of socially proper and emotionally sterile wealthy parents, including an elderly father with a complete and utter lack of testicular fortitude, Veronika’s guardians see it fit to help their damaged daughter by having her routinely institutionalized after a number of suicide attempts, including laying naked outside in the snow so as the freeze to death and slitting her wrists. When not strapped down to a hospital bed, Veronika attempts to seek solace by sharing her paltry but developing carnal knowledge with a variety of pathetic men, including an old magician who is depressed about giving his last performances that she attempts to ‘cheer up,’ a physically repulsive Tunisian gentleman with a Jewtastic afro, a spastic paraplegic, and an obese sub-Saharan African. Veronika also briefly joins an anti-individualistic cult called “Children of God” run by a messianic megalomaniac that, like any wack-job pseudo-religious order, attempts to force its members to abandon their families, but her stint with the deranged group does not last long, even if she goes into a transcendental trance-like state during one of their group rituals. Veronika also becomes pregnant by one of the number of men who have taken advantage of her neurotic nymphomaniac tendencies and she pays tribute to her beloved God by having an abortion. Not long after murdering the child in her womb, Veronika meets a chubby and effeminate man from Ghana named Demba (Jorge Reis) that looks like a rather repellant cross between Jesse Jackson and Ron Jeremy. Despite the fact that she could become infertile if she engages in sex immediately following her abortion, Veronika decides to have the old in-and-out with Demba after he pathetically complains that he has not been laid in over 18 months, thus resulting in a bloody and grotesque mess of miscegenation that thankfully does not sire any children. Veronika and Demba attempt to get married on a whim, but the little loony lady is stopped by her father, who pays off the poor and treacherous African and has his daughter once again committed to a mental institution, where she is strapped to a bed so she can no longer hurt herself. In the end, an imaginary crucifix burns brightly behind the bedpost of Veronika’s bed in the mental institution. 

 Despite featuring superlatively sordid and sickening scenes of Islamic ritual slaughter, joyless sex involving hymen-broken hemoglobin and gorey post-abortion jungle fever, passionate spiritual insanity, and the slow but steady mental deterioration and sexual abuse of a tragic young woman with a complete and utter estrangement from the real world, No Mercy, No Future is indubitably director Helma Sanders-Brahms’ most enthralling and penetrating film and probably the only work by the German arthouse auteur that is accessible to people other than frigid and fuming feminists suffering from psychosis and leftists who hate life and love banausic ‘new left’ films celebrating illegal aliens, Marxist terrorists, and other ‘marginal’ works. Of course, Helma Sanders-Brahms portrays religiousness, especially of the Roman Catholic persuasion, as a sign of mental illness and perturbing pathology, not to mention the fact that No Mercy, No Future portrays the bourgeois and men in general as the harbingers of mental illness, thus it would be a lie to say the film does not have themes and sociopolitical undertones that are similar to the director’s other films. Exploring the themes of hysterical female mental illness and German-Ausländer relations that were typical of Rainer Werner Fassbinder films, including the Sirkian melodramas Martha (1974), Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974), and Fear of Fear (1975), as well as the surrealist and heretical Catholic iconography of Werner Schroeter, Helma Sanders-Brahms ultimately takes its aesthetically salacious and sadistic subject matter to more grotesque and unsettling themes, thus anticipating Lars von Trier’s Antichrist (2009). Like anti-hero Hazel Motes from Wise Blood (1979) directed by John Huston, Veronika of No Mercy, No Future develops a sort of spiritual asceticism out of necessity due to her overwhelming inner pain, Weltschmerz, and abject isolation from the outside world.  With all the bat-shit crazy white broads in the West, who now recklessly and nonsensically engage in miscegenation, not thinking twice about the fact that their baby, like the president of the United States, will more than likely be born a double bastard, one could argue that the Occident and its colonies are now suffering from collective schizophrenia, as the sort of self-destructive behavior displayed by the race-mixing protagonist of No Mercy, No Future certainly seems to be becoming the norm, albeit in a slightly less melodramatic and Catholic fashion.  Paradoxically, it was the Frankfurt school fetishizing 'new left' types like Helma Sanders-Brahms and their pathological ethno-masochism that led to such a spiritually and culturally mongrelized world, but I am sure she sees her film No Mercy, No Future as another xenophiliac tale about a "strong woman" who has suffered immensely under the misogyny of wicked Aryan men.

-Ty E

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