Saturday, December 20, 2008


This post is related to my poll 41: FASCINATING FASCISM


I hope I will have the time or the chance to watch the following films soon:

1.THE ASCENT (1977, Larisa Shepitko, Soviet Union)

2.THE CONFORMIST (1970, Bernardo Bertolucci, Italy)
“This story opens in 1938 in Rome, where Marcello has just taken a job working for Mussollini and is courting a beautiful young woman who will make him even more of a conformist. Marcello is going to Paris on his honeymoon and his bosses have an assignment for him there. Look up an old professor who fled Italy when the fascists came into power. At the border of Italy and France, where Marcello and his bride have to change trains, his bosses give him a gun with a silencer. In a flashback to 1917, we learn why sex and violence are linked in Marcello's mind”

3.FORTINI/CANI (1977, Jean-Marie Straub + Daniele Huillet, Italy/West Germany)
This is an anti-fascist film.
“The film is a sort of presentation of Franco Fortini's book 'I Cani del Sinai'. Fortini, an Italian Jew, reads excerpts from the book about his alienation from Judaism and from the social relations around him, the rise of Fascism in Italy, the anti-Arab attitude of European culture. The images, mostly a series of Italian landscape shots, provide a backdrop that highlights the meaning of the text”

4.FOUR DAYS OF SNOW AND BLOOD (1989, Hideo Gosha, Japan)

“The early 1930's. Manchuria is in the occupation of Japan when the League of Nations rejected their proposal for non-racial discrimination. This led to Japan walking out of the League of Nations. On the home islands severe famine wracked the countryside. The Depression, tariffs, boycotts and widespread unemployment contributed to the growing sense of futility and anger at those who manipulated events to line their own pockets. A group of junior officers decided to wipe out the corrupt elements and ask his majesty to form a new government headed by dedicated miliary men who would bring justice and good government to all. The young rebels marched throught the bitterly cold snow that blanketed Tokyo. They steeled themselves for what would follow, never imagining that their rendezvous with history would end as it did...”

5.THE HIMMLER PROJECT (2000, Romuald Karmakar, Germany)
“Experimental feature, in which the actor Manfred Zapatka reads a three-hour-long famous speech by Gestapo leader Heinrich Himmler, held on the 4th of October 1943 in front of leading Nazi officers at the Golden Hall of Posen Castle; giving an impressive insight into the perversions of Nazi ideology”

6.LACOMBE LUCIEN (1974, Louis Malle, France)
“A small town in the south-west of France, summer of 1944. Having failed to join the resistance, the 18 year old Lucien Lacombe, whose father is a prisoner in Germany and whose mother dates her employer, works for the German police. He then meets France Horn, the daughter of a rich jewish tailor”

7.TRIUMPH OF THE WILL (1935, Leni Riefenstahl, Germany)

8.HOMECOMING (1941, Gustav Ucicky, Germany)
Cinzia Romani wrote about this Nazi propaganda film in the book TAINTED GODDESSES: FEMALE FILM STARS OF THE THIRD REICH (1992). You can buy this book from Here are some excerpts from the book:

Synopsis of HOMECOMING:

A village in Poland, the spring of 1939. The Poles are suspicious and hostile to the German-speaking minority living in their midst. The trouble begins when Marie, the heroine, and her friends go to the movies (to see Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy in MAYTIME). The film is preceded by a newsreel praising the Polish army. When the Polish national anthem is heard on the sound track, everyone in the audience rises, except the three Germans. They are thrown out of the theater, and Marie’s fiancé is beaten, later dying of his wounds when the local hospital refuses to admit him. By the beginning of summer, anti-German reprisals have increased, and when war breaks out in September, the Germans are locked in a cellar, when the Poles plan to machine-gun them. A courageous German grabs the gun, and the bullets miss their target. Suddenly the Germans bomb the town. The prisoners escape and make their way back to Germany, and safety.

This is what Marie said to her friend in a prison scene in HOMECOMING:

“Friends, we’ll go home again, I know we will. Why shouldn’t we? Anything is possible, and our going home isn’t just possible—it’s certain. Back in Germany, they know what’s happened; no one has forgotten us. On the contrary…they want news about us…Think of how it will be, just think! When everything around us will be German, and when we enter a store, won’t hear Yiddish or Polish being spoken, but only German! And not only the village, but everything in it will be German! We’ll be in the heart of Germany. Just think about it, friends! Why shouldn’t it be that way? And if we can’t live a German life, at least we can die a German death. And even dead we’ll be a true part of Germany!”

9.THE REBEL (1932, Luis Trenker + Kurt Bernhardt + Edwin H.Knopf, Germany)

“A young medical student returns to his Tyrolean home to find out that Napoleon's troops have taken over the area and that his mother and sister have been murdered ”

This is one of many German films made in the pre-Hitler period which talks about the war between Prussia and Napoleon. This kind of films might have arouse the feelings of extreme nationalism in the German moviegoers before Hitler became the ruler. This kind of films reminds me that there are also many recent Thai films which deal with nationalism. Some recent Thai films talk about the war between Ayudhya and Burma. Some films in this group are “extremely nationalistic”, such as KHAN KLUAY (2006, Kompin Kemgumnerd, B+) and SIYAMA (2008, Preecha Songsakul, A-). Other films in this group are “moderately nationalistic”, such as the NARESUAN series by Chatrichalerm Yukol. I think they are moderately nationalistic because they don’t portray people from Burma as pure evil. There’s also a scene in THE LEGEND OF NARESUAN: PART 2 (2007, A), in which an ordinary woman talks about the suffering of people caused by war.

You can read Brandon Wee’s article about the nationalism in some Thai films here:

Some recent Thai films talk about Thailand VS. Western influences, including THE OVERTURE (2004, Ittisoontorn Vichailak, A+) and THE SIAM RENAISSANCE (2004, Surapong Pinijkhar, A+). Tasanatat wrote a great article in Bioscope (a Thai film magazine) vol. 82-84 (Sep-Nov 2008) detailing how these two nationalistic Thai films anticipate the military coup in September 19, 2006 and the rising of the Thai fascist group called PAD.

You can read Tasanatat’s Thai blog here:

This German film series were made before and during the time of Hitler. These films tell the stories of King Frederick II, the Great. This king resembles Hitler in many ways.

Films in this series include:

10.1 THE FLUTE CONCERT AT SANS SOUCI (1930, Gustav Ucicky)

10.2 TRENCK (1932, Ernst Neubach + Heinz Paul)

10.3 THE KING’S DANCER (1932, Friedrich Zelnik)

10.4 THE ANTHEM OF LEUTHEN (1933, Carl Froelich + Arzen von Cserepy)

10.5 FRIDERICUS (1937, Johannes Meyer)

10.6 PRETTY MISS SCHRAGG (1937, Hans Deppe)

10.7 THE GREAT KING (1942, Veit Harlan)

Siegfried Kracauer wrote about the Fridericus Film Series in his book: FROM CALIGARI TO HITLER: A PSYCHOLOGICAL HISTORY OF THE GERMAN FILM (1947). Here is an excerpt from the book:

“The whole series was a thorough attempt to familiarize the masses with the idea of a Fuehrer. None other than Voltaire is called upon to recommend him. When in TRENCK, Frederick advocates sovereignty of the law, Voltaire replies that good sovereigns are preferable to good laws—enlightened reason paying homage to the absolute ruler. The King justifies this flattering opinion by playing, as before, the part of the people’s father. His patriarchal regime is a mixture of old-Prussian feudalism and Nazi sham socialism. He promises oppressed farmers to punish the Governor of their province for partially favoring the big-estate owner (TRENCK); he cancels all victory celebrations, urging that the money provided for them be given to the war victims (KING’S DANCER); he thinks of allotting funds for cultural purposes on the eve of a decisive battle (ANTHEM OF LEUTHEN). Everybody will have to admit that the security Frederick’s subjects enjoy is inaccessible to the citizens of a democracy, for in his protective zeal the King generously helps lovers (KING’S DANCER) and even goes so far as to prevent the wife of an absent major from committing adultery (FLUTE CONCERT). This model King is a veritable genius.”

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