Dec 18, 2013

Not Reconciled (1965)




 If an autistic communist industrial-hack film director got addicted to meth, attempted to shoot a feature-length film on a couple thousand dollars, finished shooting only a ¼ of the intended footage, and haphazardly edited the incongruent scenes into a feature film, it would probably resemble a work like Not Reconciled (1965) aka Nicht versöhnt oder Es hilft nur Gewalt wo Gewalt herrscht aka Not Reconciled or Only Violence Helps Where Violence Rules directed by neo-bolshevik kraut-frog Jean-Marie Straub (The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach, From the Clouds to the Resistance) and rather loosely but strategically (the author was a darling of the Teutonic left at that time!) adapted (or some may say butchered) from far-left kraut-counter-culture favorite Heinrich Böll’s novel Billard um halbzehn (1959) aka Billiards at Half-past Nine. 304 pages of convoluted satire condescended down to less than 50 minutes of superlatively soulless and totally tedious post-Auschwitz Teutophobia, Not Reconciled is an anti-cinematic piece of deconstructed post-structural agitprop cinema of the Brechtian audience-alienating sort that is more plodding and anticlimactic than a Leon Trotsky-Emma Goldman sex-tape would most certainly prove to be. Straub and his wife Danièle Huillet’s (who co-write and stars in the film) second Böll adaptation following the short Machorka-Muff (1963), Not Reconciled is essentially a post-holocaust masturbation aid for far-leftist intellectuals and other pedantic anti-bourgeois bourgeois prudes with slave-moralities who hate life and, quite naturally, hate soulful and aesthetically-pleasing cinema as well. Directed by a miserable little man who is still pissed that the Germans forced him to learn German as a child and who once callously confessed, “I don't believe in the cinema. Even when it’s Godard who says these things, it’s interesting and has meaning, but it gives me a stomach ache. I don't fetishize the cinema at all. I think of it as an instrument, a tool,” Not Reconciled is film that halfheartedly attempts two main things: berating German history and culture and making cinema as intricately banal yet simultaneously propagandistic as possible. More than just a mere film, Not Reconciled is post-fascist filmic flatulation from a Teutonized frog with an incapacity for digesting the German past, so he shits all over the present as if he is hooked on Adorno prescribed Ex-Lax. Notably mainly for being one of the first post-WWII films to depict cross-generational relations between Germans (here focusing on fathers/mothers and sons, grandfathers/grandmothers and grandsons, etc.), Not Reconciled would certainly go on to influence the films of Fassbinder and so many other great German New Cinema auteur filmmakers, but more importantly, the work is what German film scholar Thomas Elsaesser described as a ‘terrorist film’ and the sort of ethno-masochistic micro-movie that probably influenced unhinged individuals like the far-left terrorists of the Baader-Meinhof Gang. 



Although nearly impossible to discern while watching the film, Not Reconciled is about three generations of architects/demolition experts—Heinrich Fähmel, his son Robert and Robert's son Joseph—and is set between the early twentieth-century and the present, though most of the film takes place during the present with various abrupt flashbacks sprinkled throughout. With the full title of the film being ‘Not Reconciled or Only Violence Helps Where Violence Rules,’ the film ultimately has a message of waging war against contemporary West Germany by any means. In the end, the true hero (or heroine) is an elderly grandmother named Johanna Fähmel (Martha Staendner)—the mad matriarch of the testosterone-deprived Fähmel architect family—who shoots an ex-Nazi turned West German Secretary of State as he watches a military parade from a hotel balcony in what is probably the most insanely impotent and audaciously anti-climatic assassination scene in cinema history. Johanna’s leftist activism started early at age 30 (she is symbolically portrayed at this age by Straub’s wife/collaborter Danièle Huillet) when during the First World War she decided to denounce the Kaiser as a “fool” and was subsequently punished.  This is revealed during a flashback scene in Not Reconciled where elderly Heinrich via narration his regret in regard to the fact that he is a born coward and failed to come to his wife Johanna’s aid after she denounced the good old Kaiser despite the fact that he totally agreed with his beloved's sentiments and actions. Indeed, if there is anything innately wrong with the Fähmel family, it is that the men are too soft and the women are too hard. Although not referenced in Not Reconciled, in Böll’s book it is revealed that Johanna was put in a mental institution during World War II for attempting to save Jews from cattle cars.


 Set mostly in and around the prestigous Prince Heinrich Hotel, the patriarch of the Fähmel family, 80-year-old architect Heinrich Fähmel (Heinrich Hargesheimer), concludes the film with his rather somber birthday party at the hotel. As the title of the film makes quite clear, members of the Fähmel family refuse to reconcile with ex-nazis, including a rather robotic fellow named Nettlinger (Heiner Braun), who converted Robert Faehmel’s brother Otto, who died in 1942 at the Battle of Kiev, to National Socialism. Among other things, the youngest Fähmel male, Joseph (Joachim Weiler), learns that his father Robert destroyed a beautiful building—the St. Anthony’s Abbey—which his grandfather had built long ago, thus indicating a sort of generational destructiveness in the family influenced by the tides of war and the rise and fall of different Reichs. For whatever reason, Robert decides to adopt a young blond beast of a bellhop named Hugo (Georg Zander), but not before telling the lad that Nettlinger, who now proclaims to be a ‘democrat by conviction’ and who had hoped to reconcile with the demolition expert, was a nefarious nazi policeman who he blames for destroying his family. Robert also confesses to the bellhop that he is a demolition expert who was responsible for blowing up bridges, apartments, churches, railway viaducts, villas, and crossroads during the Second World War, which he seems to regret, but was forced to when American forces were approaching from the west. Of course, as a proud ‘progressive’ feminist, Straub made sure to depict nuturing mother-grandmother Johanna Fähmel as the true hero of Not Reconciled as she manages to assassinate the ex-nazi Secretary of State responsible for West Germany’s rearmament while her cuck husband was merely cowering around.



As German film authority Thomas Elsaesser wrote in his landmark work New German Cinema: A History (1989) regarding Not Reconciled: “Straub pared away all of Böll’s satire, leaving the spectator with a film that resists the family chronicle, but also narrative and the linear logic of cause and effect. This is done for much the same reason as his male protagonists reject the conciliatory gestures of their former political enemies and persecutors, and the old lady resists German rearmament by violence.” Indeed, despite its innate aesthetic and thematic inanity and particular propensity towards boring and/or alienating most viewers, Not Reconciled is, at its most fundamental level, a work of nasty neo-Bolshevik celluloid nihilism that is fueled by the sort of patently pedantic hatred that seems quite characteristic of slave-morality-driven leftist intellectuals who hate everything except hatred and destruction (with Straub's focus being not only the hatred and destruction of German culture and history, but the art of cinema as well).  With various pseudo-religious references to the “beast” (a reference to both the devil and the Nazis, though Straub certainly seems to truly think that the Nazis were devils in human form) and shots of angel statues in ruins, Not Reconciled is essentially a work of Marxist (pseudo)metaphysics directed by a man who threw out Christ for the Gospel of Anti-Christ Marx and other related Hebraic intellectual rabble. An unintentionally hilarious film where the most courageous and heroic character is an elderly bourgeois woman, Not Reconciled also unequivocally demonstrates that auteur Straub was a perennial cuckold, hence why he allowed his wife Danièle Huillet to be in charge of editing and post-production of his films (which might explain why they are so incoherent, impenetrable, and nonsensically assembled!). Indeed, Not Reconciled seems like the work of a resentful old queen, or as Thomas Elsaesser stated of the film: “Straub’s adaptation of Heinrich Böll’s novel proved a harsh and unforgiving film, whose diagonals and sharply angled compositions even in the visuals seemed to want to stem the tide of those whose ultimate moral wisdom was that life must go on.” In other words, if you want to find out what it feels like to be a tedious Teutophobe who hates art and beauty and is still resentful of the fact they had to learn German as a child, watch Not Reconciled and wallow in the wonders of pseudo-kraut commie celluloid dribble. 



-Ty E

12 comments:

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Ty E, i dare you to enjoy Christmas, just focus on the turkey dinner the Lindt chocolates the mince pies the tin of salmon and the jar of pickles, it really is great my old mate if you just lose the cynicism and throw yourself into the unparraleled magic of the Yuletide season.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

I want to bugger Ulrike Meinhof (as the bird was in 1952 when the bird was 18, not as the bird is now obviously, which is long since dead).

jervaise brooke hamster said...

I want to bugger Gudrun Ensslin (as the bird was in 1958 when the bird was 18, not as the bird is now obviously, which is long since dead).

jervaise brooke hamster said...

I quite enjoyed this reveiw but for some reason while i was reading it i kept being reminded of Jiri Girl-zels 1965 Czechoslovakian cult oddity "Closely Observed Trains", they are perhaps similar films.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

-Are you Jewish scum ?

-Yes, but at least i`m not a
pansy queer bastard ! ! !.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Just with regards to the picture of the geezer standing next to the posters, in the one featuring Uncle Adolf you`d have thought he would`ve prefered to be pictured with a beautiful young Aryan girl (ala Heather O`Rourke ! ! !), as it is that picture makes him look like a bloody faggot.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

The Nazis were indeed devils in hu-girl form but only because they made the wrong choices, if they`d eradicated faggots instead of Jews they would`ve been angels sent from heaven to protect the rest of us. Just imagine Ty E if Uncle Adolf had just said to himself: "I dont need to concern myself with Jews, all i need to do is destroy all pansy queer bastards", what a marvellous world we would now have (if he`d had the added and vitally important bonus of having J. Robert Oppenheimer on his side as well of course).

jervaise brooke hamster said...

I`ve never been able to understand all the fuss thats made about Joel and Ethan Coens movies, all their films are unwatchable garbage. By the way, Will Ferrell is a load of old stinking horse-shit, all i respect about him is his rampaging heterosexuality.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Ty E, when you think about how ludicrously obscure this movie is maybe you should bounce back (as it were) tomorrow with a reveiw of "The Exorcist", just a suggestion.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

On that other poster the geezer playing billiards looks like hes about to bash that geezer over the bonce with a billiard ball.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Will Ferrells apart-girl-t doesn`t smell of rich mahogany it smells of fucking dog-shit freshly excreted out of a mongrels arse.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

That geezer who ordered breakfast every day for 3 years looked like Stalin.