Friday, 28 March 2008

Marriage of Eva Braun, what a dazzling film. Fassbinder never lets up, never shortchanges the viewer. It's emotionally full on, and visually magnificent from start to finish. Worth watching as well as listening too. Loss of innocence seems a key: the repeated visits to the ruin of the primary school and the memories it provokes amidst the post-war rubble. In the end perhaps this loss of innocence becomes just too overwhelming. Eva never smoked, but begins to smoke as she breaks down, and her carelessness with the gas, as her husband returns and she realises this man she's fought for is in effect a stranger, brings about the catastrophe: the film ends as it begins, in explosion and destruction. An extraordinary vision.

Fassbinder knew film from the bottom up. He wrote this story and directed it: he could have filmed it and acted it too, at least, except for Eva, an amazing performance. His cast and crew all regulars, friends, associates.

While watching I couldn't help thinking that it has even more surface brilliance than a Hollywood-made epic, and in addition an emotional integrity Hollywood can never dream of, and it turns out that this was his aim, the surface quality and yet an auteur film. Some achievement.

And Lovefilm sends me Punishment Park (1971) immediately afterwards. The 60-mile desert course, pursued by feds, as a metaphor for the situation of anti-Vietnam protesters. The film gave an opportunity to young, articulate and angry adults to say passionately what they thought, and to some older citizens to argue back. And to some ex-police (and some who weren't) the opportunity to gag and suppress dissenting views. An unwritten, improvised, acted-out film that was so real that Danish TV had to apologise to the US for blaming it for such inhuman treatment of dissent. They thought it was real. And it still feels real, even tho it's a metaphor. Essentially opposite to Eva Braun, it's a less constructed film, a film closer to reality. And yet no less or more real. PP, as Peter Watkins points out, is a critique of media as a construct, a construct with a dimension that is essentially political; film, documentary, TV news, it's all a construct. & there is still a place for Fassbinder to construct constructions that overturn the constructed corruption of media, just as Watkins does. Ah, film.

No comments: