#183 – Schmähung (Abuse)

(1975, WGer, 99 min) Dir Hans Berg. Cast Wolfgang Feebler, Patti Hess, Maximilian Singerman.

Berg, responsible for cinematic crimes in the form of Little Dieter sequels A Drum for Little Dieter and Little Dieter’s Red Balloon, began his redemption here with an adaptation of Karl Klaus Faber-Hoffer’s play, a political cause celebre at the time. The film, like play, centres on a young group of conceptual agitators who roam Berlin instigating violent arguments with the general populace. Where the play saw the action confined to a prolonged bout of ‘cleansing rage’ in a fancy restaurant where the actors frequently broke the fourth wall to roam the aisles harassing the audience, the film spreads the canvas over the whole city and includes many surreptitiously shot scenes of the actors enraging actual citizens on the street as well as the inevitable fourth wall moments of actors turning to the camera to tell the viewer what they think of them. Where the play eventually ends in an orgy of violence with the restaurants’ high class patrons turning on the group and stabbing two of them to death, the film continues past this point with the group being tracked down by the police and eventually becoming a Baader-Meinhof alike gang of terrorists though with even less of a rational political credo. A defiantly abrasive film very much of it’s time but undoubtedly influential – definite shades of Haneke’s Funny Games and Von Trier’s The Idiots here.

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