May 25, 2016

Sex Murder Art: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Uncle Adolf and Love Teutonic Necrophilia

While my taste in cinema has naturally become more cultivated as the years have passed and I have become somewhat more increasingly unrepentant in my prejudices, some things have certainly remained the same, especially in regard to my great affection for the truly singular cinematic oeuvre of Berlin blond beast Jörg Buttgereit. Indeed, Buttgereit’s four feature-length arthouse-splatter films—NEKRomantik (1987), Der Todesking (1989), NEKRomantik 2: Die Rückkehr der liebenden Toten (1991) aka NEKRomantik 2 - Return of the Loving Dead, and Schramm (1993)—are longtime personal favorites of mine that I revere for a number of reasons, but mainly because they were the first films that I had ever saw that I felt immaculately reconciled my childhood love of horror and exploitation with my later adult appreciation for mostly melancholic European arthouse cinema.  In short, Buttgereit's films made me realize that it was not exactly insane to be a fan of both Rainer Werner Fassbinder's In a Year with 13 Moons (1978) and Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust (1980). As a result of the generosity of Dutch-born filmmaker and film distributor Nico B (Pig, Bettie Page: Dark Angel), I recently had the splendid luxury of re-watching all of Buttgereit’s films in HD after receiving the excellent Cult Epics Blu-ray box-set Sex Murder Art: The Films Of Jörg Buttgereit where the Teutonic enfant terrible  auteur justly receives the Criterion Collection-esque treatment. A four Blu-Ray and two CD box-set that includes an informative 40-page booklet and a wealth of mostly imperative extra features, Sex Murder Art not only includes the director’s first four features, but also the soundtracks for all four of the films, audio commentary tracks and introductions, fairly lengthy vintage making-of featurettes, the medium-length absurdist pre-NEKRomantik anti-romance Hot Love (1985), and other short films and music videos, among other things that can hardly described as mere junk filler. Seeing as I have not seen most of these films in a couple years, it was a somewhat nostalgic experience devouring this entire boxset over the course of one single weekend while coming to realize that I love Buttgereit’s films just as much as I love the cinematic works of my favorite ‘legitimate’ arthouse directors like Fassbinder, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Werner Schroeter, Carl Th. Dreyer, and even Ingmar Bergman.  On top of everything else, I must confess that I have come to the conclusion that I sincerely believe that Buttgereit is the greatest German ‘horror filmmaker’ since F.W. Murnau.

Of course, re-watching all of these films reminded me of the quite dejecting fact that Buttgereit completely gave up filmmaking when he was in his prime after his masterful serial killer flick Schramm because he felt burnt out and was tired of having no money to work with. Indeed, while Buttgereit did indeed return to filmmaking in a sense in 1999 to direct an episode of the Canadian science fiction TV series Lexx and he would go on to direct various documentaries like Monsterland (2009), the goofy filmed theater piece Captain Berlin versus Hitler (2010), the superlatively silly stageplay triptych Monsters of Arthouse (2013), and one of the three segments of the horror anthology German Angst (2015), none of these films aside from possibly the latter contain the same distinctly Teutonic seriousness, innately instinctual and visceral artsy, unrelenting obsessiveness, gorgeously grotesque clarity of vision and all-around idiosyncratic economic filmmaking that epitomizes his four feature-length works.  While Buttgereit discussed in an interview with Loris Curci in Shockmasters Of The Cinema (1996) about how he was working on both a film about a TV show host and a much anticipated cinematic work entitled NEKRomantik 3 (apparently, he even penned two different scripts for the latter), neither of these projects ever came to fruition. In short, Buttgereit more or less committed suicide as a cinematic auteur, which is somewhat ironic considering that he is currently at the height of his international popularity and even has such a loyal following that a number of these fans have demonstrated their dedication to his films by vandalizing their own bodies with NEKRomantik and Der Todesking tattoos

 While New German Cinema unofficially ended in 1982 when the movement’s figurative ‘heart’ Fassbinder died under somewhat dubious circumstances that hint towards subconscious suicide, Buttgereit would ultimately transcend their objective in terms of creating a truly subversive non-commercial underground cinema that would put the works of the most controversial filmmakers of that era like Ulrike Ottinger and Rosa von Praunheim to abject shame. Indeed, quite unlike Ottinger and von Praunheim, Buttgereit did not have the convenient excuse of being ‘campy’ or gay to get away with his truly transgressive themes and imagery. In fact, in terms of his distinctly German Romanticism and keen obsessiveness with Germany’s dark past and stark present, Buttgereit is also somewhat ironically the most German of German filmmakers, even though he was mostly influenced by American sources. As a filmmaker once made a short mocking his own father entitled Mein Papi (1981), Buttgereit also follows in the post-WWII German tradition of depicting a figurative “fatherless society” and a homeland with no true “Heimat” where a true German identity has become intangible due to the ghosts of the Second World War. Notably, while watching the audio commentary for his short Horror Heaven (1984), Buttgereit made a point to recognize that he, like many West Germans of his era, grew up on American trash culture as opposed to traditional German culture, yet amazingly the Teutonic essence of his artistry bleeds through every single frame of his four features as if he was under the subconscious influence of Wotan in a fashion not unlike how Nietzsche was described by C.G. Jung in his 1936 essay on the Aryan war god. Indeed, while Buttgereit might not be aware of these figures, he is indubitably an heir to great German artists of the aesthetically pleasingly grotesque, including bisexual Satanic novelist and screenwriter Hanns Heinz Ewers and Expressionist poet Gottfried Benn, who both became more or less unofficially blacklisted after World War II due to their temporary support of National Socialism, even though both men would eventually be persecuted by the regime.  Without even knowing it, Buttgereit would demonstrate a certain solidarity with Ewers and Benn early in his career by daring to direct decidedly iconoclastic films like Blutige Exzesse im Führerbunker (1984) aka Bloody Excess in the Leader's Bunker, which depicts a sort of mad scientist Uncle Adolf attempting to regain power with the help of Eva Braun and the director himself. Notably, Buttgereit was so disinterested in appeasing the authoritarians of political correctness that the filmmaker once dared to screen the short alongside concentration camp footage.  Of course, more obviously, Buttgereit is an underground heir to the great German Expressionist filmmakers, especially F.W. Murnau, as well as the German emigrants that came to Hollywood and influenced everything from horror to film noir. 

 If you listen to the audio commentary tracks featured on the Sex Murder Art Blu-Rays, it becomes quite clear that Buttgereit has a certain latent German pride, but I have my suspicions that he has a special affinity for famous American serial killers of German descent, as if they act as a sort of special imperative link for him between his homeland and the country that culturally colonized his nation after the Second World War. Indeed, aside from the fact that Schramm opens with a quote by serial killer and sadistic sodomaniac Carl Panzram—a sort of Nietzsche of serial killers who had his own personal unhinged Übermensch philosophy of hatred and misanthropy whose parents were from East Prussia—Buttgereit has demonstrated a lifelong obsession with Aryan-blooded macabre momma’s boy Ed Gein, whose both maternal and paternal grandparents were German Lutheran immigrants. In fact, not only did Buttgereit pay tribute to Gein with an entire true-crime-tragedy play entitled Kannibale Und Liebe about the necrophile that is set during 1957, but he also actually traveled to his unmarked grave in Plainfield, Wisconsin in July 2012, which he documented with his rather respectful and quite literally titled 2-minute short A Moment of Silence at the Grave of Ed Gein (2012). In an interview with in September 2013, Buttgereit would rightly remark regarding the real-life ghoul and his overall importance on the horror genre as a whole, “I think Ed Gein is the first American Horror-character. Monsters like Frankenstein, Dracula or the Mummy came from the outside. But Gein came from the inside of America […] I love PSYCHO, TCM and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. Every film deals with a different aspect of this weird character.” Notably, Buttgereit was not the first Teuton to develop a deep interest in the infamous real-life necromantic, as Bavarian wild mensch auteur Werner Herzog met up with Hebraic documentarian Errol Morris in 1975 in Plainfield to work on a film where they planned to dig up Gein’s mother’s corpse to test their theory that the cross-dressing proto-Leatherface had already dug up his mommy. Unfortunately, Morris wussed out, but Herzog ultimately paid tribute to Gein in his own special way by filming part of his masterpiece Stroszek (1977) in the infamous cross-dressing killer's hometown. 

 Undoubtedly, one of the most intriguing yet commercially and critically deleterious aspects of Buttgereit’s films is that they feature a completely seamless incorporation of both arthouse and exploitation/horror elements. In other words, many braindead glue-snuffing gorehounds find his films to be too ‘boring’ and ‘artsy’ while mainstream film critics and academics find them to be too obscenely offensive, politically incorrect, and repugnant to take seriously. Indeed, not surprisingly, German film critics acted like timid little uptight bitches when Schramm was screened at the prestigious Max Ophüls Prize Film Festival, or as David Kerekes explained in his book Sex Murder Art, “Some are convinced that SCHRAMM promises a bright, blood-free film future for the director, but not so the critics at the Max Ophüls Prize Film Festival. Buttgereit tells the author that it’s nothing short of a scandal for a film such as his to be playing a ‘serious’ festival like this. Sure enough, the consensus is that Buttgereit has nothing to say, and his whole film just an excuse to present meaningless violence.”  Naturally, it should be no surprise that Austrian one-time-auteur Gerald Kargl's arthouse-horror piece Angst (1983)—a truly masterful serial killer flick if there ever was one that would ultimately have a huge influence on the overall style and aesthetic of the films of Gaspar Noé—was also poorly received upon its release, as if most people in the German-speaking world cannot handle films about serial killers because it reminds them too much of the sort of cartoonish genocidal Nazi maniacs depicted in Hollywood films.

Of course, arguably more obviously and rudely than any other German filmmaker of the post-WWII era, Buttgereit has unwittingly demolished kosher commie and tiresome Teutonphobe Theodor W. Adorno’s decidedly dickheaded dictum (translation: goy golden rule), “Writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric” in a most deliciously savage fashion, as an auteur that managed to create, among other things, erotic cinematic poetry in the form of a voluptuous Aryanness wearing a Hitler Youth outfit while in bondage as depicted at the very conclusion of Schramm. Additionally, Buttgereit’s wickedly darkly humorous satirizing of Nazisplotation trash like Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS (1974) in Der Todesking would have probably so severely irked dildo Adorno that it would have possibly inspired him to write another extensive esoteric essay on the ostensible innate evilness of krauts and how they should spend the rest of eternity repenting for their sins against Judea. 

 While Adorno would have certainly loathed Buttgereit's films, his shabbos goy protégé Alexander Kluge (Abschied von gestern - (Anita G.) aka Yesterday Girl, Der Starke Ferdinand aka Strongman Ferdinand)—a lawyer turned cinematic auteur that is arguably the most overtly ‘intellectual’ filmmaker in German history and who was one of twenty-six signatories to the Oberhausen Manifesto of 1962, which more or less marked the launch of the New German Cinema and a renaissance in German cinema—had enough appreciation for Der Todesking to include the infamous Nazisplotation castration in his 20-minute short Das Goldene Vlies, which won the prestigious Adolf Grimme Award. In fact, Kluge caused a scandal of sorts when he managed to get the short screened on television, though a dubious “freak weather accident” conveniently resulted in five minutes of the film to being blacked out, including the infamous Nazi castration scene.  Somewhat interestingly, it seems that Kluge saw some genuine talent and inspiration in Buttgereit, as he not only had him on his talk show, but also hired him to direct at least three documentaries. Undoubtedly, for Kluge to work with Buttgereit would be somewhat akin to Godard working with Jean Rollin or Woody Allen collaborating with Jim Van Bebber, but then again I personally believe that the Teutonic auteur clearly has more genuine artistic talent and originality than his French and American counterparts.  Indeed, had Buttgereit not been brought up on a steady diet of American trash culture and instead was exposed to traditional German culture, one could argue that he might have evolved into a sort of Franz von Stuck of cinema.  After all, Fassbinder also received a similar American cinematic education as demonstrated by his imperative influence from Hollywood auteur filmmakers ranging from Raoul Walsh to Douglas Sirk.

 A somewhat prominent figure of the 1980s Berlin punk rock scene, Buttgereit started out directing goofy anarchic Super-8 shorts like Der explodierende Turnschuh (1980) aka The Exploding Sports Shoe, Der trend - Punkrocker Erzählen aus ihrem leben (198) aka The Trend - Punkrockers Speak About Their Lives, and Manne the Mowie (1981) and even co-directed the feature-length doc So war das S.O.36 (1985), which features a number of important Neue Deutsche Welle, Punk, and Industrial bands of the time like Einstürzenden Neubauten, Lorenz Lorenz, Betoncombo, Die tödliche Doris, Malaria, and Die Gelbs. In fact, a good percentage of the people that have appeared in Buttgereit’s films are from the Berlin music scene. Indeed, only in a Buttgereit film like Der Todesking will you see weirdo black-haired kraut musician Hermann Kopp naked and committing suicide in a scene that he actually composed the music in a scenario that was based on the dubious death of disgraced West German politician Uwe Barschel. In short, Buttgereit is a true D.I.Y. artist and thankfully he does not go around bragging about this fact as if it were some sort of grand virtue like certain posturing leftwing scenester wimps tend to do. Also, it should not be overlooked that Buttgereit has ties to the queer avant-garde in the form of his handful of collaborations with Michael Brynntrup, who looks like he could practicably be the filmmaker’s twin brother (incidentally, Brynntrup claims on his website bio that he had a identical twin brother that was stillborn). Arguably the two most archetypically Aryan looking filmmakers that have ever lived, Brynntrup fittingly contracted Buttgereit to direct the crucifixion scene for his rather ambitious 35-episode experimental Super-8 epic Jesus - Der Film (1986). Ultimately, Buttgereit returned the favor by having Brynntrup play a less than merciful Aryan Christ at the end of Schramm. Notably, like Buttgereit, Brynntrup also has a sort of reluctant nostalgia for Germany and his family as indicated by his short DER RHEIN - ein deutsches Märchen (1983) aka THE RHINE - A German Fairy Tale, which tells the sad and somewhat sentimental story about how he never got the opportunity to meet his pretty boy uncle Karl-Anton because he was senselessly killed during the last days of the Second World War when he was just 18 years old while defending a toll castle on an island in the Rhine called Pfalzgrafenstein Castle.

 From the comic book heroes of Jews like Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (e.g. Superman) and Stan Lee (e.g. Marvel Comics) to the sub-schlocky exploitation films of Herschell Gordon Lewis and David F. Friedman like Blood Feast (1963), Buttgereit is somewhat ironically a product of the very same kosher cultural colonization that Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels so often warned of during his rather eloquent propaganda speeches, yet he has managed to take these virtually aesthetically worthless ingredients and sire something inordinately cultivated and singular, sort of the way that Hans-Jürgen Syberberg managed to do the seemingly impossible by combining the distinctly Teutonic Romanticism of Richard Wagner with the audience-alienating cultural Bolshevikism of kraut commie Bertolt Brecht. Of course, also like Syberberg, Buttgereit has also remained a controversial figure that will probably not get his total due, at least while he is still alive (incidentally, Buttgereit once stated, “If you show an American film in Germany then it’s not so interesting, unless you’re dead like Fassbinder, then it’s okay,” thus underscoring modern degenerate Germany’s sad, pathetic and innately irrational loathing for its own great living artists). Of course, it can be argue that, also like Syberberg, Buttgereit has attempted to symbolically salvage German kultur from the Nazis. Indeed, not unlike Syberberg in his mammoth magnum opus Hitler: A Film from Germany (1977), Buttgereit's Captain Berlin versus Hitler is an example of a filmmaker exorcising Hitlerite demons and reclaiming German history and culture. 

 As his films, especially NEKRomantik and NEKRomantik 2, aggressively demonstrate, it is like Buttgereit has taken the title of Syberberg’s decidedly damning 1977 essay “We Live in a Dead Country” quite literally, as if the auteur subconsciously came to the conclusion that necrophilia would be the greatest metaphor for spiritual and cultural decay that plagues many modern-day Teutons. Notably, as Syberberg quite accurately remarked in his essay, “German cinema is finished in its present structure and the rats are leaving the sinking ship. This country is not only dead, it is not even a country any longer. Centerless. Without a spirituality identity […] A country deserted by the Jewish intellectuals of film and nevertheless with such a large mafia? In my book I speak of a mafia of the subconscious. Our filmbuffs [sic] are grotesque in their refutation of the efforts of the anti-Semites. The Jews left, the mafia remained.” Of course, Syberberg is speaking of the sort of ethno-masochistic kraut philo-Semites that incessantly kiss kosher ass as an ostensible means to atone for the holocaust, as if that will every change the fact that Hollywood and the majority of Hebrews in general have a totally visceral undying hatred of all-things-Teutonic. Naturally, only the underground could have sired a German filmmaker as subversive as Buttgereit who, not unlike Syberberg, is not afraid to reveal the present necrotizing state of the German Volksgeist. If we are to believe National Socialist philosopher Alfred Rosenberg when he wrote, “Every race has its soul and every soul its race,” then I think it is safe to say that, as far as post-WWII directors are concerned, Buttgereit’s films embody the most visceral and uncensored expression of the German collective unconscious. Indeed, in their collective unwillingness to reproduce and open embracing of innately hostile aliens with primitive savage religions that are turning their cities into third world hellholes, the Germans long for death as both a nation and people and one could certainly argue that the passing of this truly great race began with the capitulation of the Wehrmacht 6th Army during the Battle of Stalingrad (indeed, it is no coincidence that Stalingrad is a major motif in Kluge's films, as if it represents a sort of very real reoccurring nightmare for both him and his nation's clearly haunted collective subconscious). 

 In his fairly short but immaculately sweet autobiography My Last Sigh (1983), great Spanish maestro Luis Buñuel, who had a fairly big influence on some of Buttgereit’s films, wrote regarding the imperative influence that his Catholic upbringing and Jesuit education would have on his life and art, “Ironically, this implacable prohibition inspired a feeling of sin which for me was positively voluptuous. And although I’m not sure why, I also have always felt a secret but constant link between the sexual act and death. I’ve tried to translate this inexplicable feeling into images, as in UN CHIEN ANDALOU when the man caresses the woman’s bare breasts as his face slowly changes into a death mask.” Judging by Buñuel’s rather bold confession, one could argue that Buttgereit has a somewhat similar outlook and that he totally transcended the Spanish surrealist maestro into terms of cinematically expressing the innate link between sex and death. Of course, life begins with sex and ends with death, hence Nietzschean anarchist Georges Bataille’s remark, “Death is really the opposite process to the process ending in birth, yet these opposite processes can be reconciled.” When it comes to necrophilia, there is no potential for reproduction, thus highlighting its sort of potential poetic appeal for a filmmaker like Buttgereit who seems to loathe his family (or at least his father) and who lives in a suicidal national where antinatalism—an anti-life position that was notably endorsed by Teutonic pessimist Arthur Schopenhauer about a century before it became vogue—seems to be a sort of rampant metaphysical affliction that will only disappear when, somewhat ironically, the last German disappears.  In fact, aside from Japan, Germany has the lowest birth rate in the entire world.  Indeed, while a mass suicide wave that hit Germany in 1945 when the Red Army began invading the country during the final days of the Second World War (for example, on May 1, 1945, hundreds of people committed mass suicide in the town of Demmin as a result of the Soviets invading the area and committing atrocities, including mass rapes and destroying 80% of the town in a mere three days), one could argue that this disturbing trend still lives on today, albeit in a sort of passive and largely antinatalist form. Of course, Buttgereit’s darkly delightful cinematic Danse Macabre Der Todesking—a truly one-of-a-kind piece of cinema that is arguably the director’s greatest contribution to the medium—is probably the most potent example of Germany’s tragic tradition of post-Nazi self-slaughter and possibly the most poetic celluloid reminder that transgenerational epigenetic inheritance is real and that virtually every single contemporary German has arguably been accursed with the wartime traumas of their ancestors. In fact, I would not be surprised if all of Buttgereit’s four features were the unconscious expression of inherited traumas, but I digress. 

 Undoubtedly, in some ways I am a hopeless luddite of sorts as demonstrated by the fact that I only just recently got a Blu-ray player, but I certainly do not regret it as it was put to great use for Sex Murder Art, which will indubitably become one of my most used and abused box-sets. If there was anything that I immediately realized after re-watching Buttgereit’s films, it is that, quite unlike a lot of the horror movies I loved when I was younger, my appreciation from them has only grown all the more as the years have passed as it is easier for me to see the German auteur's imperative experimental and arthouse influences. Indeed, only Buttgereit could make a film like Schramm that was heavily influenced by a fairly underrated and largely forgotten French arthouse flick like Claude Sautet’s Les Choses de la Vie (1970) aka The Things of Life starring Michel Piccoli and Romy Schneider. Likewise, only could Buttgereit not only pay sort of post-punk tribute to Louis Malle’s My Dinner with Andre (1981) in a romance film about necrophilia, but do it with a sort of superlatively surreal twist that even outdoes Buñuel in terms of absurdity. In terms of his mastery of poetic cinematic oneiricism on a beggar’s budget and seemingly innate and discernibly Germanic talent for decidedly grim Gothic horror, Buttgereit is like a punk F.W. Murnau, albeit seemingly more sexually perverse and nihilistic. Additionally, Buttgereit has probably come closer than any other contemporary horror filmmaker to being a Jean Cocteau of the genre, as his quite clever and creative special effects and camera tricks, as well as shockingly delectable use of dream-sequences, certainly make his films an excellent choice to watch alongside the French poet-cum-filmmaker's singular Orphic Trilogy. 

 As far as I am concerned, Buttgereit, not unlike the late great Christoph Schlingensief (Terror 2000 - Intensivstation Deutschland, United Trash), succeeded in many ways where the would-be-revolutionary filmmakers of New German Cinema failed by concocting an intrinsically subversive and aggressively anti-commercial style of insanely idiosyncratic auteur filmmaking that still manages to fall in the grand Teutonic tradition of irrational Romanticism. Indeed, instead of falling into the sort of commie ghetto of conformity that has severely dated many of the cinematic works of popular New German Cinema filmmakers like Volker Schlöndorff and his bitchy ex-wife Margarethe von Trotta, Buttgereit embraced a distinct punk Weltanschauung that inspired him to break all taboos, including those relating to Germany's Nazi past, albeit in a keenly cultivated fashion where it is apparent that he is not just out to shock people.  In fact, as Buttgereit explained to Kerekes regard to his utilization of real animal-killings and sort of anti-exploitation approach to gore, “I thought it important to put the rabbit sequence in because there has to be a scene that people are positive is not faked – that it isn’t fun anymore. That’s why I don’t understand this ‘Glorifying Violence’ argument leveled at us, because every time we cut something up it’s a mess. When somebody gets killed, it’s a mess. It even takes hours to dig up a grave.”  While people can say many things about Buttgereit's films, there is no denying that his features lack the sort of sensational pornographic thrills featured in exploitation films that seem to arouse certain gorehounds, hence his lack of popularity among various horror fiend philistines.

Notably, in an interview with Marcus Stiglegger featured in the book Caligari's Heirs (2007) edited by Steffen Hantke, Buttgereit remarked in regard as to why he specifically sought to parody Nazisplotation cinema in Der Todesking, “I think of this as an act of liberation, an homage to all those things that were kept from us in Germany presumably for our own good. Once you discover that these things exist, you are equally horrified and intrigued. ILSA was punk rock for me—same thing as Sid Vicious with his swastika.”  While some might interpret Buttgereit's attitude to Nazism as reckless or immature, it is indubitably more healthy than the seeming majority of contemporary German filmmakers, who seem to bask in their own completely shameless ethno-masochism and patently pathetic post-holocaust guilt despite the fact that they were not even alive during the Third Reich.  Of course, it is most likely this sort of spiritual necrophilia regarding long dead Jews that the NEKRomantik films even exist.  As the films of the somewhat mysterious pseudonymous auteur Marian Dora (Cannibal, Melancholie der Engel)—Buttgereit's virtual cinematic heir—demonstrate, it seems the post-shoah metaphysical affliction has only grown darker and more hysterical and irrational in Deutschland since the release of NEKRomantik, but that is probably to be expected in the era of globalization where Hollywood cultural colonization has guaranteed that Germans and whites in general will be incessantly bombarded with sickeningly sensational big budget agitprop of the holy holocaust oriented sort where the big bad goyim is expected to pay tribute to the glorious six million while ignoring both the many great Hebraic mass murderers of the pasty century like Lazar Kaganovich (who carried his own little holocaust against the Ukrainians called “Holodomor”) and Genrikh Yagoda and Israel's staunchly Zionistic longtime ethnic cleansing campaign.

While Hollywood continues pouring salt onto old Aryan wounds by incessantly defecting out fictional holocaust film after fictional holocaust film, Buttgereit has intriguingly used the most critically maligned film genre as a means to create the most visceral and curious of Trauerarbeit pieces, as if the auteur had been engulfed in the darkest corners of the German national psyche and felt instinctively compelled to artistically express the morbidly melancholic spirit that was eating away at his soul (notably, Buttgereit eventually developed a stomach ulcer from the stress of filmmaking).  After all, arguably the most offensive aspect of Buttgereit's films is the surprising seriousness and inordinate pulchritude that he brings to these totally taboo themes.  Of course, in a once proud nation where a good percentage of the people hate themselves so much that they suicidally welcome their own displacement and genocide by refusing to reproduce and embracing the colonization of their country by hostile medieval-minded Muslims that think that all women that do not wear towels on their heads are dirty whores, it is only natural that beauty would come in the form of the moribund, grotesque, and eclectically unnatural.  Undoubtedly, it should be noted that the murders in Buttgereit's films more resemble ritualistic sacrifices than mere killings, which is interesting when one considers Bataille's words, “It is the common business of sacrifice to bring life and death into harmony, to give death the upsurge of life, life the momentousness and the vertigo of death opening on to the unknown. Here life is mingled with death, but simultaneously death is a sight of life, a way into the infinite.”  Indeed, judging by Bataille's remark, one could argue that Buttgereit's single greatest philosophical feat as a filmmaker is that he has managed to make cinematic works about corpse-fucking that are strangely life-affirming.

-Ty E

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