Mar 8, 2014

Amsterdam Global Village




My grandfather was born in the Netherlands in 1919 and after the German occupation during the Second World War, as well as the subsequent colonization of the low-lying Germanic country by the United States, he could no longer stand seeing what his homeland turned into, so he made the mistake of immigrating to America in the 1950s. Homesick, my grandfather would revisit his homeland in the 1960s and was only further disconcerted by his native nation’s cultural degeneration. Had my grandfather lived to see the epic arthouse documentary Amsterdam Global Village (1996) directed by Dutch auteur-documentarian/photographer Johan van der Keuken (I Love Dollars, Het Oog Boven de Put aka The Eye Above the Well), he would have thought the Netherlands of the mid-1990s (ironically, around the same time he died) was probably a modern day Sodom and better off under kraut rule. Indeed, for a whimsical 245-minutes, Amsterdam Global Village portrays a so-called ‘multicultural’ nation where its inhabitants are increasingly refugees from the third world who, although demonstrating their unwavering solidarity with their birth nations, have relocated to Amsterdam to take advantage of the socialist luxuries of one of the most modern cities in the world. Aside from the occasional pothead, DJ, skater, degenerate lesbian artist, ‘outsider’ model with Down syndrome, race mixer, prostitute, etc., Van der Keuken's doc of pre-apocalyptic decay strictly focuses on subjects from the third world, including a young hash-addled Moroccan courier, Bolivian musician, Chechen businessman, and an elderly Jewish singer, among various other ‘people of color’ (or whatever). Rather objectively directed with an ambiguous message, Amsterdam Global Village—whether intentional or not—portrays a people and city that is losing its identity and where the ancient scenic architecture, canals, bridges, and sculptures stand in rather stark contrast to its growing third world population. Auteur Van der Keuken all the more highlights the innate foreignness and unassimilable character of these assorted individuals by traveling with them to their mostly poverty-stricken and sometimes war-torn homelands, where they seem discernibly more happy and social, even if there are dead corpses lying in the streets. Due the documentary’s seemingly unintentionally unflattering depiction of the international plague that is multiculturalism, it should be no surprise that World Socialist Web Site (WSWS)—the most widely accessed commie website on the internet—gave a rather unfavorable review of Amsterdam Global Village, writing, “Aside from the reality that poverty and historical circumstances have forced many people to take refuge or seek employment in a handful of relatively prosperous countries, such as the Netherlands, it is not clear to me what van der Keuken is trying to say,” as if everyone is a Marx fetishist whose responsibility it is to portray brown people and internationalism as god’s great gift to the world.  Instead, Van der Keuken takes a wandering and voyeuristic non-partisan approach that thankfully leaves it up to the viewer to decide whether or not Amsterdam will eventually degenerate into a third world gutter.



 Opening with a shot of a bunch of Dutch children sporting blackface and dressed as ‘Zwarte Piet’ aka ‘Black Peter’ (the companion of Sinterklaas, the Santa Claus of Dutch folklore), Amsterdam Global Village portrays a ‘changing’ Netherlands where actual real live African children stick out like sore black thumbs while admiring a goofy Dutch guy in black face. The 'bridging figure' of the documentary is Khalid, who makes his living as a moped courier and enjoys listening to shitty techno music and hanging out and smoking dope with other non-whites next to a small skate park. Spending virtually his entire life in Amsterdam, Khalid found it rather difficult to readjust to the low standard of living of Morocco when he followed his parents back there when he was a teen, so it did not take long for him to decide to move back to the Netherlands, even if he does not consider himself Dutch. Andean musician Roberto still loves his small village in Bolivia, but he knocked up a native white Dutch woman, so he is pretty much stuck in white man's land and he is not exactly complaining, though he misses his dark brown kinsfolk. When Van der Keuken follows Roberto to Bolivia, he discovers his subject has a single mother who has over a dozen children she cannot support. Luckily, Roberto brings everyone tons of gifts and gives an impassioned speech about the need for his people to preserve their culture, language, and customs despite the fact he now lives in Europa and has spoiled his ancestor's blood by siring a half-caste Dutch son. Back in Amsterdam, a Chechen businessman named Borz-Ali watches on the news about how his home city of Grozny has been leveled to the ground by the Russians during the First Chechen War. After learning that Borz-Ali’s warrior brother was killed in the war, Van der Keuken follows the businessman to Grozny where the corpses of Chechen ‘heroes’ lie in the streets and armies of hysterical elderly Chechen women shout venomously about destroying “Russian fascists.” Of course, there are no such barbarian antics in mostly quiet Amsterdam, though there are homeless people from the Slavic lands that walk around without socks and shoes, not to mention the fact that there are decidedly degenerate photographers that take photos of striking young mongoloid men, with Moroccan courier Khalid being the one responsible for transferring the negatives to photo labs and then bringing the developed photos back to the photographers. Meanwhile, the native Dutch get wasted and fight each other like queenish pansies while paddling around in dilapidated rowboats in a canal. Mourning over a tragic past, an elderly Jewish singer named Hennie Anke and her 55-year-old son visit the apartment that they once lived in during the German occupation during the Second World War. While her hubby was sent to Westerbork transit camp and eventually met his premature demise, the Jewish mother went into hiding and was separated from her son for a couple years. Naturally, Hennie no longer recognizes her old apartment as it has been totally remodeled and his now inhabited by an overweight black woman from Surinam. Of course, Amsterdam Global Village features less serious segments, including courier Khalid buying hash from a Jewish dealer at a ‘coffee shop’(Khalid even says his farewell to the Hebraic hash dealer by saying “mazel tov”), a female Dutch DJ looking like a certified spastic while spinning records, a bisexual orgy, Chinese children learning Chinese and Dutch simultaneously at a preschool, an interview and live performance from some third rate punk rockers from Sarajevo, a lesbian photographer shooting pretentious nude photographs, and the Courier remarking regarding the grey alien that they are, “Not the most beautiful race.” In the end, footage of courier Khalid riding his moped is superimposed with narration of the young man describing how he fells “pretty Muslim. If I believe anything, it’s that” and how “When I become a van courier…I will be more satisfied.” Of course, it is doubtful Khalid would achieve his dream were he not living in the globalist village that is unfortunately post-WWII Amsterdam. 



 In an interview conduced by Serge Toubiana in regard to why he chose to shot the sole sex scene of Amsterdam Global Village as ‘multisexual’ as opposed to ‘multiethnic’, auteur Johan van der Keuken gave the thankfully anti-liberal response, “The thought occurred to me, but I wanted to avoid it being "politically correct,"” thus demonstrating his integrity as an artist as opposed to being a mere propagandist like so many documentarians. Indeed, in its lack of sentimentalism and fetishism for its nonwhite subjects, Amsterdam Global Village is probably a work that will seem ‘culturally insensitive’ to certain bleeding heart xenophiles.Van der Keuken was certainly not afraid to offend during his filmmaking career because, as Thomas Elsaesser wrote in European Cinema: Face to Face with Hollywood (2005) regarding the filmmaker’s documentary The Palestinians (1975): “An openly partisan film, commissioned by the Dutch Committee for the Recognition of Palestine, the film is perhaps the closest Van der Keuken came to making a cinéma vérité or direct cinema documentary. But it was also so openly pro-Palestinian that it lost him many friends, especially among the left-wing Jewish-Dutch filmmaking community.” Of course, Van der Keuken displays neither hate nor disdain for any of the subjects featured in Amsterdam Global Village, but instead, the subjects’ words and actions merely speak for themselves. With the assassination of Dutch anti-multiculturalist politician Pim Fortuyn at the hand of a far-left environmentalist lunatic in 2002 and the brutal murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh at the hand of a crazed Moroccan Muslim in 2004, the so-called global village of Amsterdam nowadays more resembles a quaint cage full of rival packs of dogs that will one day make the German occupation during WWII seem like a picnic. Indeed, while a semi-likeable guy, central subject Khalid of Amsterdam Global Village makes it quite clear that he is a Moroccan Muslim and diaspora member first and foremost and that he only lives in the Netherlands because he can get good weed and decent employment that he could never find in his own homeland.  Of course, cultural clashes can only end one way and that is with the conquering of one group over all of the others. Thankfully, with Amsterdam Global Village, Johan van der Keuken has proved a poetic picturesque document of how things were before the future deluge in the Netherlands.



-Ty E

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