catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 7, Num 6 :: 2008.03.21 — 2008.04.04


Grant’s recommendations 3.21.08

FILM: Wohin und Zuruck Trilogy 

In the 1980s, Austrian filmmaker Alex Corti co-wrote and directed three made-for-television films exploring the moral degradation of WWII through the lives of several characters.  God Doesn’t Believe in Us Anymore, Santa Fe and Welcome in Vienna covers the wide impact of the war through its different stages.   Drawing a broad picture of the effects of the war while sticking closely to a few main characters, the realistic portrayal of people trying to survive during tumultuous times is one of the most realistic depictions of wartime I’ve ever seen.    Instead of focusing only on the Jewish Holocaust or life in the military, the film exposes the struggles of a wide variety of people.  Stepping into the shoes of Jewish people in exile, the feeling of dispossession and homelessness during and after the war becomes tragically apparent.  The moral confusion of those who remained in Europe is also evident in Welcome in Vienna as we see the compromises and changing of allegiances necessary for survival in post-war Europe.  Ex-Nazis become communists.  Communists become capitalists.  And anti-Semitism continues unabated even after Hitler’s army is defeated. The films are very difficult to find.  I was fortunate enough to be able to rent the trilogy at one of America’s great film resources in Chicago, Facets Multimedia.  If you’re looking for a comprehensive document of the European experience during WWII, this is certainly it.


FILM: Once 

I hesitate to call this a modern day musical because that can turn some people off.  But that’s really what it is.  And it’s a good one.  Directed by John Carney, Once is a persuasive statement about the relationship-building power of music.  There’s the obvious growing relationship between the two main characters (played so naturally by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova) but as the film progresses, more and more people become part of the musical family as well.  Since its release, the film has drawn countless others to itself in much the same way that Hansard’s solitary performance draws Irglova to him.  In fact, I saw my own preliminary misgivings about the film in the scene where a skeptical studio engineer initially resists the odd band of misfits who entered his studio.  But like the engineer, I also found myself moved by the sincerity of the performances and the undeniable chemistry between the two main characters.  This is a film that makes you love music for what it is in its simplest form, a space for gathering people together.  When I have become hardened and cynical about the power of music to overcome the walls of industry and market analysis, I know I will always be able to go back to this hopeful film for comfort and encouragement.

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