Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

April 4, 2018

German Film Festival April 6-12

Filed under: Counterpunch,Film — louisproyect @ 2:41 pm

COUNTERPUNCH, April 34, 2018

Between April 6thand 12th, the Landmark Theater on W. 57thStreet in New York will be hosting a festival of recent German films of great interest to cinephiles based on the evidence of two press screeners I saw that have much in common besides being well-made. To start with, both have nonagenarian main characters played by two of Germany’s most renowned actors.

As a 90-year old Communist about to celebrate his birthday in opening night’s “In Times of Fading Light”, Bruno Ganz might be best known to most folks for his portrayal of Adolf Hitler in “Downfall” but the 77-year old actor’s career encompasses a wide range of heralded roles ranging from art films made by Wim Wenders (The American Friend; Wings of Desire) to Hollywood films like “The Boys from Brazil”. “In Times of Fading Light” is set in 1989 as the Berlin Wall is about to come down. The fading light referred to in the title is Communism’s twilight.

Exactly the same age as Ganz, Jurgen Prochnow plays a 92-year old Wehrmacht veteran named Eduard Leander in “The Final Journey”, who led a regiment of Ukrainian Cossacks during WWII. The film’s title refers to his odyssey to find the woman he loved in a Luhansk village against the backdrop of a new war involving some of the same geopolitical cleavages. Like Ganz, Prochnow has a long and distinguished career and is best known for playing the German submarine commander in “Das Boot”. Deemed controversial at the time for showing German soldiers without the stereotypical mustache-twirling villainy seen in Hollywood films, “The Final Journey” could conceivably be accused of whitewashing Nazi war crimes—that is, unless you understand that his character paid dearly for them.

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