Friday, May 18, 2007

Lenin or Hitler

First, Slavoj Zizek's misreading of two recent German films dealing with the legacy of East German communism: Good Bye Lenin! and The Lives of Others. I didn't particularly liked the first one. I thought the concept was great but the film itself was sentimental and too eager to please. Something which reinforces political misconceptions rather than question them. Specially in this context I found this comment a little strange:

To put it quite brutally, while Ostalgie is widely practiced in today’s Germany without causing ethical problems, one (for the time being, at least) cannot imagine publicly practicing a Nazi nostalgia: “Good Bye Hitler” instead of “Good Bye Lenin.” Doesn’t this bear witness to the fact that we are still aware of the emancipatory potential in Communism, which, distorted and thwarted as it was, was thoroughly missing in Fascism? The quasi-metaphysical epiphany toward the film’s end (when the mother, on her first walk outside the apartment, finds herself face-to-face with a Lenin-statue carried by the helicopter, whose outstretched hand seems to address her directly) is thus to be taken more seriously than it may appear.

Watching the film nothing was more obvious than the irony in the title! In fact if anything the film is a critique of these nostalgic tendencies that Zizek is talking of. No one in the right mind will compare Lenin with Hitler, or Nazism with communism, but that isn't the same thing... (Also don't miss his interesting if still bizarre reading of homosexual subtext in The Lives of Others)

In other (great) news my second favourite living film director Michael Haneke is working on a costume drama set in the last days of Austro-Hungarian empire (that's my current favourite historical subject too). Whoppeeeee! I wonder what it is about. I couldn't resist putting his photograph here. Kinda frightening the way he is staring and the calmness on his face.

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