Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Good Job Mr. Bruhl

While watching Inglorious Basterds this weekend, I was pleasantly surprised by Tarantino's choice of Daniel Bruhl, who plays Frederick Zoller, a Nazi sniper who becomes smitten with theater owner Shoshonna, although he doesn't realize she's Jewish. I've seen Bruhl in two other German films. (He's German but was born in Barcelona). In The Edukators, Bruhl plays a new kind of protester who breaks into homes, rearranges the belongings inside, throwing a couch into a pool for example, and leaves a note telling the owners to not be so materialistic. The film meanders to the countryside where The Edukators have taken a hostage from a botched break-in. Bruhl also starred in the very interesting Good-bye, Lenin!, playing Alex who, after the reunification of Germany, maintains and re-creates the presence of East Germany for his weak-hearted mother.

Daniel Bruhl very expertly portrays Frederick Zoller, both the show-offy soldier and the brutal killer from the film within the film, Nation's Pride. I've been on a Paul Newman kick lately and have been thinking about film and how those who are on film participate in many returns of life in that they are always alive somewhere, always preserved talking and shooting pool or whatever. This eternal point is made through Zoller's character: the weird documentation of Nazi ideas and Nazi horror through propaganda film. (It baffles the mind to wonder what made the Nazis use film as a way of instilling/forcing patriotism, that film, besides the tanks and the killings enforced Fascism. We must recognize the chilling power that film has here). Zoller, no less, *spoiler* dies during a screening of his own film and what a riveting juxtaposition it is to see the dead actor, who moments before wasn't really enjoying watching himself shoot many people although the German audience happily cheers. The character lives on, however, as the film continues to play out the atrocious acts he committed.

There is much more to say about Inglorious Basterds and revenge against those historical figures who caused so much grief for so many people that I know, but I guess I'll just stick to Daniel Bruhl. You should go see it, go see him, but know that the film is terribly violent and I had my knees in my eyes as soon as the club and the knives come out.

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