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Rejection: A Form Of Rebellion!

Volker Schlöndorff, the 80-year-old young German filmmaker, recently visited the eastern Indian city of Kolkata to attend an International Film Festival. During his stay at the ‘City of Joy‘, Schlöndorff shared his experience as a filmmaker with the local media. The prominent member of the ‘New German Cinema‘ of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which also included Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, Margarethe von Trotta and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, admitted that most of his films are based of the destruction triggered by the WWII. He explained that the absence of ‘Revolution‘ in last six decades inspired him to choose the WWII as the main subject! Also, he has failed to find anything new in the contemporary world. “I was born at a time when the WWII was about to begin. History speaks through me, through my films… I’m just a medium,” said the filmmaker.

Volker Schlöndorff.jpg
Volker Schlöndorff

Although Schlöndorff was born in Wiesbaden (Germany)… he left his country for France at an early age. While studying at a boarding school, he was attracted by Marxism. It was a period when the Freedom Struggle had just begun in Algeria. The Communists across the Globe (including France) backed the Algerians. He still remembers that erstwhile West Germany used to project the Communists as monsters who divided the Nation. Moreover, the Government of West Germany used to put the immigrants arrived from neighbouring East Germany (or the German Democratic Republic, a state that existed from 1949 to 1990) under torture. The Communist Party was banned in West Germany and the stallwart Communist leaders were behind the bars. However, Schlöndorff realised that the Communists helped the subaltern people in Post-WWII Germany. In fact, the common people, including priests, covertly supported the Communists! By the end of the 1960s, militant Left-wing Students’ Movements had rocked many European countries. According to Schlöndorff, the Communists also received support from the people, who were fighting against Imperialism in different countries.

Berlin Wall.png
Berlin Wall causing divide

I tried to understand Germany, its culture and people as an outsider,” stressed Schlöndorff. He also said: “I wanted to find my ancestors, my roots. However, the contemporary German films made a serious attempt to erase that period from our memory, as if nothing happened during the WWII. Those movies were either musical or melodrama.” He continued: “The contemporary German movies did not capture the reality. I failed to find the country which I was searching. So, I decided to make films and to portray the reality.
Schlöndorff told the Indian media that his films have beginning, middle and end, but not in the same order! Actually, not only the new genre French films challenged this dramatic traditional plot, but also the New German Cinema! He believes that the French films had set a right trend, as human lives do not follow any particular order. The mainstream movies tell the story that way in order to fool the viewers… so that they do not think about history. Schlöndorff claimed that rebels are also present in his movies, but in different form! “They may fail most of the time… but, that doesn’t make their fight a lie. Rebellion is actually the driving force of life,” insisted the German filmmaker.

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Germany: East & West

Schlöndorff wants people to make a serious attempt to change their lives. Marxism is facing its biggest crisis today. So, it wants to be happy only by remembering its glorious past, instead of making an attempt to analyse the complex historical experience. The glory of the Russian Revolution later became the arrogance of Socialist system… the dominance of Socialist system alienated the masses from the very system, apart from overwhelming the Communists by the concept of power! As a result, the Communists forgot history and the struggle of their predecessors.
Schlöndorff is of the opinion that one will have to criticise the human negligence in order to recreate history. He believes that the Leftist Ideology is the only language to reject the contemporary period or the only way to resist. “Either refusal or revolt,” stressed Schlöndorff. After all, Rejection is another form of Rebellion!

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