Oct 22, 2013

Germany Year 90 Nine Zero

Without question, I must concur with Swedish master auteur Ingmar Bergman when he soundly stated regarding Jean-Luc Godard, “I’ve never gotten anything out of his movies. They have felt constructed, faux intellectual and completely dead. Cinematographically uninteresting and infinitely boring. Godard is a fucking bore. He’s made his films for the critics,” and, indeed, it is doubtful the French commie director would have gained the prestige he did had he been a right-winger, hence why no one has shown much interest in anything he has directed since some three decades ago when the student movement grew up and eventually took over, ultimately becoming the booboisie mainstream. Aside from Le Mépris (1963) aka Contempt and to a lesser extent Weekend (1967), it is hard for me to think of a Godard film that does not remind me why I hate the pedantic pinko froggy in the first place, yet when I discovered his later work Germany Year 90 Nine Zero (1991) aka Allemagne 90 neuf zero—a reflexive documentary-like work made for French television in the wake of the fall of the Berlin wall and the German reunification—I decided to give it a shot, as I thought it would be interest to see what a misanthropic Marxist Frenchman has to say about his cultural and racial superiors, the Teutons. Needless to say, being a French communist who is still stuck in the late-1960s, Godard demonstrates with Germany Year 90 Nine Zero that his sheer and utter contempt for Germans and German kultur is not simply resigned to the Third Reich, but virtually all of German history as a work that even goes so far as attacking the German language and Faustian spirit as innately flawed and defective, as if National Socialism was a most natural and inevitable step for the krauts to take in history. A sort of half-incoherent and sometimes impenetrable deconstructivst celluloid collage featuring everything from concentration camp footage to scenes from Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Harlan-esque high-camp Third Reich epic Lili Marleen (1981), Germany Year 90 Nine Zero—a film that's title pays homage to Roberto Rossellini’s neorealist flick Germany Year Zero (1948); a decidedly depressing and even nihilistic work that depicts the horrible life of a young lad living in the ruins of post-WWII Germany—is not only a work that mourns the death of Marxism as symbolically depicted early on in the film in a scene where a Karl-Marx-Straße street sign with funeral flowers laying next to it is ran over by a car, but a work that somewhat celebrates the destruction of Deustchland, depicting it as an inevitable result of the sort of historically dynamic ‘Teutonic irrationality’ that Hans-Jürgen Syberberg championed and celebrated. A sort of pseudo-sequel to Godard anti-sci-fi/film noir flick Alphaville: A Strange Adventure of Lemmy Caution (1965), Germany Year 90 Nine Zero features Eddie Constantine, who went on to star in a number of great German New Cinema flicks, including a number by Fassbinder, during the 1970s/1980s, reprising his role as secret agent Lemmy Caution, although now, being “the world’s last spy,” he has aged into a morbidly melancholy and defeated man who most certainly acts as a stand-in for Godard himself. Considering his imperative influence on the auteur filmmakers of German New Cinema, Godard also pays reluctant tribute to his Teutonic spiritual protégés as Germany Year 90 Nine Zero is a virtual cinematic response to Alexander Kluge’s celluloid answer to the ‘German question’; Die Patriotin (1979) aka The Patriot

 The cold and damp Germanic winter is weighing heavy over old and now overweight Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine), or at least one would assume so as the spy, who no longer knows what side he is working for, is moping around East Germany like someone who has been just been gang raped by a group of sexually repressed bikers. Depressed that communism has taken its last gasp, Caution even goes so far as making the puffery-plagued remark, “You have to admit, Marx did triumph. When an idea is born among masses, it becomes a material force,” as he is in denial that the workers' utopia has never nor will ever be realized, with the fall of the Berlin wall being a symbolic sign of the end of that deluded dream. Making pilgrimages to various communist holy sites, Caution demands that Don Quixote tell him, “Which way is the West?” while treading through the German countryside, which looks like a post-industrial völkisch dystopia due to noisy and ugly large machinery destroying the earth of the land of blood and soil. On the way, Berlin's Landwehr Canal—the place where treacherous anti-German Judeo-Marxist agitator Rosa Luxemburg’s dead body was dropped—is passed in tribute as if it is one of the most important places of German history. Caution also runs into a Jewess with two names named Dora / Charlotte Kestner (Claudia Michelsen) who is lost in history and who sadistically states, “It was a great day for Weimar when the Red Army took over the city,” as if the Soviets did not rape every single woman in sight upon their inhospitable arrival. Needless to say, in between footage from German expressionist masterpieces like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) and F.W. Murnau’s The Last Laugh (1924), vintage photos of dead Jews and sinister Nazis are featured throughout to make it seem like the holocaust was the most important event of German history, though Godard saves some of his seething scorn for America, attacking both nations and peoples with the following quote, “The US never understood the war, or took part in it. At best, their fight was not the state’s fight, nor on the same battleground. The US can only imagine a civil war. It’s always themselves and their own defects, personified by the enemy, that they combat in all wars. For them, war is a moral dilemma. When they were English, they fought the English. When they became Americans, they fought Americans. Once sufficiently influenced by the Germans, morally and culturally, they attacked the Germans. The first American to take a prisoner in 1917 was Meyer. The prisoner’s name was also Meyer.”  Naturally, Godard's reductionist thinking will be lost on most Americans as hamburgers, canned beers, and Christmas trees are about the only things that Americans have taken from Germany, though the average Yank, even one of German descent, is completely unaware of the origin of all of these things.

 Of course, in Germany Year 90 Nine Zero, it is not communist materialism that is blamed for the death of Germanic culture, but as narrated by a translator named Count Zelten (Hanns Zischler), “It was a drunken American soldier who killed Webern.” Indeed, as displayed in a title card towards the end of Germany Year 90 Nine Zero, the ‘decline of the west’ that Spengler prophesied is in full swing, which is highlighted by a trashy human-size cigarette ad featuring a dominatrix and bourgeois businessman for the ironically named German tobacco company ‘West.’ In an assault on the legacy of völkisch art, Jewess Dora / Charlotte Kestner narrates, “All these painters only served the state. They were hypocrites. They only painted what they were told to. Consider Velasquez. Nothing but official art. Gioto. Purely official art. Like the awesome Dürer, precursor and predecessor of Nazism, who put nature on his canvas and killed it,” as if Godard forgot the fact that virtually all of his films are influenced by Marxist mumbo jumbo. When Mr. Caution finally gets to West Germany and goes to a motel for the night, the maid states “Arbeit macht frei” (work makes (you) free), which aside from being the slogan at the entrance of the Auschwitz concentration camp, has to be the greatest joke at the expense of both Jews and communists, though I doubt Godard is laughing. Needless to say, Caution is not humored by the maid’s remark and kicks her out, but he becomes even more irked when discovering a bible in his hotel room. Beginning with a trampled Karl-Marx-Straße street sign and concluding with a standing Martin-Luther-Straße street sign, Lemmy Caution is ultimately cautioned that German history may be repeating itself, but as narrated in French early on in the Germany Year 90 Nine Zero, “History is beyond good and evil, and the things of everyday life. Bliss is not to be found in world history. Periods of happiness are only its blank pages.” 

Featuring curious but not surprising quotes like, “I accuse Germany of accusing everyone else of failure” and “Passion is an integral part of the German psyche, more so than reason,” Germany Year 90 Nine Zero may be the most thoughtful philosophical attack on German history and the German people ever made by a filmmaker, at least by an outsider, though, being French, it is patently passionless and soullessly rationalized as if it were directed by a Trotskyite robot with a a couple short circuits. Indeed, with its quotes from everyone from Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel to Thomas Mann, paintings from Franz von Stuck to Otto Dix, music from Beethoven to Liszt, and films from Murnau to Fassbinder, Germany Year 90 Nine Zero certainly pays tribute, if not reluctantly so, to a number of great kraut culture creators, yet next to an epic piece of celluloid Gesamtkunstwerk like Syberberg’s Hitler: A Film from Germany (1977), Godard's work of reluctant celluloid Teutophobia seems like a sterile experiment in novelty intellectualism from a bored filmmaker whose confused contempt for classical kraut culture is only transcended by his contempt for the medium of cinema, the very medium to which he ironically dedicated his life. Featuring a number of ‘inside’ references to German culture that, aside from stereotypical references to the holocaust and Hitler, will absolutely stupefy the Teutonic novice, as well as a number of cryptic pretentious jokes from the ever so intellectually masturbatory director, Germany Year 90 Nine Zero is essentially irrefutable proof that Godard only makes films for himself and a handful of circle-jerking comrades.

 Still, as much I absolutely loathe Godard and most of his films, Germany Year 90 Nine Zero is certainly one of my favorite flicks by the uniquely unlovable froggy bastard because, aside from taking a serious, albeit denigrating look at the once-titanic Teutons, it demonstrates that the filmmaker is almost at the level of Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran—a fellow who once described himself as a ‘Hitlerist’ and who once supported the ultra-nationalist Romanian Iron Guard movement—in terms of his pathological pessimism and dead set belief that the Occident is decaying at a drastic rate as Spengler predicted, as if the filmmaker finally realized that life and history is more complex than a materialist history preached by Marx. Indeed, it is a sure sign that a communist filmmaker has gotten bored when he makes random references to obscure proto-Nazi figures like German Conservative Revolutionary writer Ernst von Salomon—a onetime Freikorps member who provided the getaway car for the 1922 assassination of rich Jewish politician/industrialist Walther Rathenau (Foreign Minister of Germany during the Weimar Republic) who, despite writing screenplays for Nazi propaganda flicks like Carl Peters (1940), had a Jewish lover who he protected throughout the Nazi era (though both were later arrested, imprisoned, and tormented by the Allies as chronicled in the writer’s book Der Fragebogen (1951) aka The Questionnaire)—for seemingly no reason at all, as if to demonstrate his Nazi-related knowledge.  Admittedly, when I finished viewing Germany Year 90 Nine Zero, I felt like for the first time in my life that I found some common ground with Godard, as I think we can both agree that Europa, including Germany, is a rotting corpse of cultural degeneration, social alienation, spiritual devitalization, post-industrial waste, and cheesy would-be-sexy advertising in a lost land where the politicians are American-trained pimps and the citizens are indentured whores imprisoned in a Adorno-esque Gulag of the mind. As for a sequel to Germany Year 90 Nine Zero, it is rather doubtful as Eddie Constantine is unfortunately long dead, but Godard is rumored to be considering cinematically adapting gay Hebrew writer Daniel Mendelsohn's holocaust-themed memoir The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million (2006), which could confirm his though status as French cinema's most foremost shabbos goy, though his lifelong anti-Zionist tendencies and curious relationship to German history and culture say otherwise.

-Ty E


Anonymous said...

I can only concur. I've always fucking loathed Godard's films and all that smug "movie reminding you that you're watching a movie" distancing crap for which he was so unjustly praised and adored. Of the three Godard DVD's I scooped up back in my eager-to-soak-up-every-stage-of-film-history phase, I've never once made it all the way through Contempt or Breathless and I've never even popped in Band of Outsiders.

As far as Godard vs. Bergman: in my film school days, every cookie-cutter lefty faggot who fancied himself a master of agitprop churned out pseudo-Godard in their boring, nonsensical student films. (Usually with obligatory "art" nudity by some skank hipsterette.) No one even came close to tackling Bergman.

Europe is crumbling, and it'll take filmmakers far worthier than Godard to do justice to the reasons why.

Natacha von Braun said...

I thought Alphaville was a good Godard movie, a little boring though.

Anonymous said...

That reminds me. I started Alphaville on instant Netflix once and made it all the way to the halfway mark. I should get some sort of prize for that. A friend of mine strongly suggests Weekend but, given ol' Jean-Luc's track record, I'd rather do something much more useful. Like obtaining genital warts.

Anonymous said...

Something else that makes me laugh on this site is that Ty E and Scott are obviously true movie lovers who know virtually everything there is to know about the entire history of world cinema, where-as that prick Jervaise Brooke Hamster is just a Heather O`Rourke obsessed lunatic whos probably never even heard of Jean-luc Godard.

MoonRisk7 said...

The first half of Weekend is actually quite good; the second half is the absolute worst of Goddard's tiresome (and by that point, typical) Marxist prattling, so proceed as informed.

Anonymous said...

Jodie Foster as "The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane" (1976).

Soiled Sinema said...

Brigitte Bardot's ass and Fritz Lang make "Contempt" slightly more tolerable.

Brecht was probably the single worst influence on post-WWII European cinema, especially in France and Germany. Thank god people like Fassbinder finally got over that soulless garbage. Godard just took it further to the point of artistic suicide.

-Ty E

jervaise brooke hamster said...

"Brigitte Bardots ass", Ty E its great to know that you`re just like me, in that you`d also very much like to shove your knob up the incredible bum of the 18 year-old version of Brigitte Bardot circa 1952, well done geezer. LONG LIVE HETEROSEXUAL BUGGERY, DEATH TO ALL PANSY QUEER SCUM.