Reviews and notes
Germany in the year 1990 or the new Germany in the year zero: the double meaning of the title is deliberate and suggests the complexity, which is full of intent, and the ambiguity of Godard's enigmatic film essay. In six variations on loneliness and the condition of a state, with headings such as "All Dragons of Our Lives" or "The Wall Without Wailing", the former novelle vague
director, whose name is not mentioned as usual in the opening and closing credits of his later work, investigates the situation of German-German relations one year after the fall of the Wall. In his search for clues he reactivates the secret agent Lemmy Caution from his film Alphaville, A Strange Adventure of Lemmy Caution
(1965), a character who Eddie Constantine plays again in his inimitable way.
Lemmy, who has been missing since the conference in Casablanca, is living as a mole on call under a false name in the former GDR and sets off on a journey from East to West to the interior of the German character between Goethe and Buchenwald.
The enigmatic film is both an unconventional mystery and puzzle game, a typical Godardian mesh full of fragments, associations
and quotations in German and French, which consciously avoids any unambiguity. Those represented here include Walther von der Vogelweide, Wittgenstein, Schiller; Marx and Kafka, the music of Beethoven, Bach, Liszt and the rock band "Ton Steine Scherben", scenes from the films of Murnau, Lang and Fassbinder; and finally the voice of Marlene Dietrich, to name only a few examples.
What unites them all is the obvious connection to Germany, to the German language and culture that drove the perfectionist Godard to such an extent that even Beethoven's Seventh Symphony was only allowed to be heard in the film as a German recording directed by Bruno Walter. For Godard, who grew up in the French part of Switzerland, they are all "memorials, places of remembering" and inextricably linked with his own biography: "I remember that Germany educated me and that I let myself be educated by Germany - only by Germany. I got to know Sartre and Camus by way of Novalis." He confronts the West German reality of money with the lost East German hopes: A showy Mercedes-Benz flattens the street sign "Karl-Marx-Straße", and a Don Quixote travels through the East German wasteland, followed by his Sancho Panza driving a East German Trabant, which conks out. And Lemmy Caution, on his way from the East German countryside via Weimar; the former German capital of the intellect, lands in the glittering world of neon signs at Berlin's Kurfürstendamm.
- Looking at Germany, Goethe Institut, 2000.
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