First reactions from Germany

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First reactions from Germany

Postby kant1781 » Tue Feb 17, 2009 5:12 pm

Well, the 2009 International Film Festival Berlin is over where Lukas’s new film „Mammoth“ had its international premiere, competing for the Golden Bear. I have some excerpts from the first reviews that appeared in Germany, and unfortunately I have to report that they are rather critical of the film. :N This is not to say that the professional critics are right, I often find myself in strong disagreement with them. However, to get a first idea, here’s what they think. (The translations are mine and rather rough.)

The general reaction is to find the film what some on this board have found Lilya 4ever to be: preachy. Lukas Foerster, writing for the influential online culture magazine perlentaucher, calls it

„cheap philosophizing hidden behind much ado about nothing, mock concernment (child prostitution is bad), brutal melodramatizing (dead, mutilated children always sell), and a crude conservative agitation (mother, stay with your child!). You want to run away from all these simplistic postcard greetings from the world of card-box calamity“.

Jan Schulz, writing for the respected Berlin Tagesspiegel, setting the film in perspective with Lukas’s earlier works, calls it „a message film“ by a film-maker on a „crusade for children“. He shows lots of respect for Lukas’s earlier films (even for the artsy ones) and for his agenda. However:

„What could have been a remarkable film – about double-income westerners who cannot get rid of their bad conscience for losing touch with their kids over their self-actualization, or about the destruction of family structures in poor countries because of parents’ being forced to work abroad anywhere on the globe – degenerates into a global soap opera. (…) Like a mammoth itself, the film tramples towards its own archaic message: Family values forever, and at whatever cost. In ‚Mammoth’, it is God who has to set things straight. (…) No tearjerker cliché known to be effective in those parts of the world contaminated by hospital soap operas is left out by Moodysson, and no holy-family-arrangement sure to be cheered in all the bible belts of the world.“

There is only the dissenting voice of Ekkehard Knörer, a prominent critic in Germany, writing among others for Cargo film magazine, but this excerpt is also from perlentaucher. He says:

„Hardly another film was so booed and ridiculed as Lukas Moodysson’s ‚Mammoth’. Which is unjust, even though this work has got its problems. ‚Mammoth’ is a naive film that does not want to complicate simple things. It shows in touching, sometimes troubling, but always honest and elegant simplicity what it has got to say. It shows – without psychologically analyzing them in the least – people who suffer. (…) And it shows these people as human beings who search, who want to be saved and redeemed. ‚Mammoth’ is not free of clichés. And one is probably right if one understands the attitude behind it - if one wants to call it by name - conservative and, yes, christian. But even if one is an atheist left-winger, one should ask: Does that per se count against the film – although it finds aesthetic expression for exactly this attitude? What is considered to be the greatest weakness of the film is in truth its strength: It avoids plot construction (there is still too much of it in the film), it does not individualize its protagonists, but sketches them naively and simply as bearers of attitudes and emotions. In this way, the film is completely different from all the others in the competition, being equally far away from all current trends in commercial and arthouse filmmaking. It is in fact the most erratic, unusual work in the competition. And one does not have to find it successful in order to be touched by its sincerity.“
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Postby bruno » Tue Feb 17, 2009 8:46 pm

Thanks for the translation, Kant1781.

If I didn't like L4E probably I won't like this one, too. But I'm curious enough and (when possibile) I'll take the risk.
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Postby NOSSYDOOM » Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:12 pm

New video Pressconference and red carpet:
http://www.berlinale.de/en/archiv/jahre ... .html#6863
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