Aug 18, 2013

O.K. (1970)

While war films with anti-war sentiments are no less than a dime a dozen, be it produced by Hollywood or otherwise, I cannot think of such a work as innately idiosyncratic yet politically insipid as German auteur Michael Verhoeven’s low-budget far-leftist agitprop film O.K. (1970), a work ostensibly set in the jungles of Vietnam about American GIs yet actually filmed in the forests of Bavaria with an all-kraut hippie/commie cast. Utilizing philo-Semitic kraut commie playwright Bertolt Brecht’s so-called ‘distancing effect,’ O.K. begins rather pretentiously and pedantically with the actors in the film, including writer/director/actor Verhoeven, stating their names, religious affiliations, marital status, and in some cases their sexual experience (actor Wolfgang Fischer proudly states he is 28-year-old unmarried virgin). Despite its absurdly amateurish direction and equally bush-league and eccentrically exaggerated acting, O.K. somehow managed to be chosen as West Germany's official submission to the 43rd Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film (though it would not receive a nomination). While also entered into the 20th Berlin International Film Festival, O.K. proved to be so controversial that the film festival was cancelled simply because of the dubious content of the film after old school Hollywood propagandist George Stevens (Shane, Giant) demanded the ostensibly anti-American film to be removed, which in turn caused the festival director to resign and the entire event to fall apart completely. Like the Hollywood film Casualties of War (1989) directed by Brian De Palma and starring Michael J. Fox and Sean Penn, O.K. is based on the true story of the incident on Hill 192 in 1966 during the Vietnam War when a group of GIs kidnapped, gang raped, and murdered a 20-year-old Vietnamese girl named Phan Thi Mao. Despite not featuring leftist Israelite Sean Penn in the absurd role of a evil redneck rapist like Casualties of War, O.K. is all the more radically ridiculous and patently propagandistic in its perverse portrayal of leftist German rednecks (aka Bavarians) as super sadistic and sexually depraved, American and Confederate-flag-waving, anti-communist U.S. soldiers with an irrational hatred yet peculiar fetishism for young yellow girls. Despite featuring nil nudity and almost slapstick-like violence, O.K. ultimately plays out like some sick sex fantasy on director Michael Verhoeven’s part, whose dubious fetish for pedamorphic girls is quite obvious as demonstrated by his casting of the prepubescent-like actress Lena Stolze in his most popuclar films Die weiße Rose (1982) aka The White Rose and Das schreckliche Mädchen (1990) aka The Nasty Girl, as if the filmmaker is projecting his raunchy rape fantasies on half-retarded American rednecks. Sort of like a softcore avant-garde ‘torture porn’ flick ridden with quasi-commie anti-American clichés typical of members of the 1968 German student movement, O.K. is, at best, a marginally and accidentally entertaining, outmoded celluloid fossil directed by an ethno-masochistic mensch who is clearly trying to aesthetically repent for the fact that his father Paul Verhoeven was a naughty National Socialist filmmaker as demonstrated by his lifelong fixation with anti-anti-communism, blaming his parents/grandparents for the so-called holocaust, and his unhealthy hatred of all-things Third Reich.  Luckily, with O.K., Verhoeven at least at some point in his filmmaking career had testicular fortitude and not a mere obsession with blaming the German collective for Nazism as his anti-Vietnam war flick at least makes for a marginally enthralling and exceedingly eccentric exploitation flick.

 After the actors of O.K. introduce themselves and their backgrounds in a manner that shows how deeply Bertolt Brecht’s theatre theories have deleteriously infected post-WWII German Cinema, one is introduced to the pseudo-American soldiers in their 'natural' habitat. The motley crew of Amerikkkan GIs is lead by a megamaniacal redneck and all-around mad man named Sergeant Tony Meserve (ironically, played by blueblood Friedrich von Thun), a highly decorated soldier who proudly sports an anachronistic Confederate flag on his uniform. Mr. Me-Serve does not like hippies with beards, calling them “communist beards” and stating that a “beard is effeminate,” so he gets his dimwitted underlings Corporal Ralph Clarke (Hartmut Becker) and soldier Diaz (Ewald Precht) to hold down a certain pussy pacifist named Rafe (Wolfgang Fischer), so they can give him a nice shave with a large blade, which ultimately only results in half of his mustache being cut off. Seeming to suffer from Tourette's syndrome, the soldiers often randomly spout off weird things that a leftist Bavarian filmmaker like Michael Verhoeven might assume American hick soldiers might say like “immigrant stays immigrant” so as to demonstrate their disdain for darkies immigrating to their homeland despite their fighting in a foreign Third World nation’s civil war. When a 15-year-old Vietnamese girl of the Catholic faith named Phan Ti Mao (played by the seemingly Asiatic Eva Mattes, who more resembles a Mongol than a true blue gook) makes the mistake of riding by the American GIs on her bike, they menacingly interrogate her and accuse her of being an atheistic commie spy. After one of the GIs, a nice fellow named Sven Erikksson (not unsurprisingly played by 'noble' leftist director Michael Verhoeven) makes an honorable attempt to stop the humiliating harassment of Ms. Mao, Meserve has Rafe rape the teenage girl. After Meserve declares, “Equal rights for everbody; we’re a democratic country,” the rest of the soldiers take a turn at physically pillaging Mao, except gentleman Sven, who valiantly refuses to commit the act, although his commanders attempt to force him. Not unsurprisingly, Miss Mao is eventually stabbed by Clarke and eventually maliciously murdered by the sadistic American soldiers via machine guns and soldier saint Sven makes his getaway on the dead gook gal’s bike so he can tattle on his corrupt comrades. When it comes to dumping Mao's mutilated corpse, the soldiers agree it is a “matter of honor” and that “everything is o.k.” Of course, Sven thinks otherwise and tells his commanding officers about the malicious murder/rape and they tell him to keep his mouth shut because, after all, Sergeant Meserve is an honorable man who has received five medals, including the bronze star, and was even part of the inaugural sermon for President Johnson. Sven is also told by an apathetic commanding officer the following advice, “And remember something else please: this murder did not happen in the United States but outside of civilization. Namely, on the battlefield.” Of course, all of the soldiers (with the exception of Sven, of course) eventually received a court-martial and (reduced) prison sentences. 

 While a piece of absurdly amateurish leftist agitprop that uses Brechtian theatre techniques in a rather blatant attempt to mask its lack of production values and any sort of realism, O.K—for better or worse—still makes for one of Michael Verhoeven’s most interesting and experimental works, as it ultimately seems like an accidental exploitation flick parading around as an audacious antiwar flick, which for its time, it most certainly was. Of course, with mainstream anti-Vietnam war Hollywood flicks like De Palma’s Casualties of War (1989), which is essentially a lavish sentimentalist remake of Verhoeven’s flick, as well as superior works like Apocalypse Now (1979) and Platoon (1986), O.K. is nothing if not absurdly outmoded and socio-politically and aesthetically redundant, hence the film’s almost total obscurity today. Aside from an apparently accidentally created ‘sound loop’ from a Moog synthesizer, O.K. also has the distinction of lacking a soundtrack, which would go on to inspire rape and revenge exploitation flicks like Israeli degenerate Meir Zarchi’s I Spit on Your Grave (1978), which is also an aesthetically retarded work that wallows in radical redneck-bashing and senselessly long rape scenes. Clearly the creation of a man with a needlessly wanton wackjob weltanschauung of the ethno-masochistic quasi-commie/anti-Amerikkkan sort, O.K. is probably one of the most blatant examples of the intellectual and aesthetic bankruptcy of the far-left and today the film only works as a sort of Marxist-sploitation black comedy, but not much more.  One must also give minor props to Verhoeven for opening O.K. with a quote from anti-Semite Semite journalist Karl Kraus, but for some reason I doubt the great Austrian satirist would have approved of the Bavarian filmmaker's use of the quote, which is “Humanity had the bullet go in on ear and out the other.”  Apparently, it seems to have never crossed auteur Michael Verhoeven's mind that the historical record proves that Marxists have committed much greater crimes against humanity than the German National Socialists and Italian fascists ever did, but as O.K. proves, leftists have never let historical reality get in the way of a seemingly psychopathic interpretation of history.

-Ty E


teddy crescendo said...

I think "Kellys Heros" (from the same year) was a better movie.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

I want to bugger Eva Mattes (as the bird was in 1970 not as the bird is now obviously).