Benilde or the Virgin Mother (1975), Manoel de Oliveira
Possession (1981), Andrzej Żuławski

erforderliches Agieren

Den Herrn in diesem Land und den Stellvertretern der Herren in diesem Land und den Stellvertretern der Stellvertreter der Herren in diesem Land würden wir, wir dürfen ja nicht, aber wir würden, würden wir, wies Fremdlingen ziemt, verständig unsere blutschuldlose Flucht erzählen, bereitwillig jedem erzählen, er müsste ein Stellvertreter gar nicht sein, wir würden das machen, Ehrenwort, wir erzählen es jedem, wir erzählen es allen, die es hören wollen, aber es will ja keiner, nicht einmal ein Stellvertreter eines Stellvertreters will es hören, niemand, aber wir würden es erzählen, wir würden über unsere Flucht ohne Schuld, unsre schuldlose Flucht, die Sie ja immer als Flucht vor Schulden darstellen, die Flucht von Schuldlosen also erzählen, in unserer Stimme wird nichts Freches sein, nichts Falsches, wir werden ruhig und freundlich und gelassen und verständig sein, aber verstehen werden Sie uns nicht, wie auch, wenn Sie es gar nicht hören wollen? Verstehen werden Sie nicht, und unser Reden wird ins Leere fallen, in Schwerlosigkeit, unser schweres Schicksal wird plötzlich schwerelos sein, weil es ins Nichts fallen wird, in den luftleeren Raum, ins Garnichts, wo es dann schweben wird, in Schwebe bleiben wird, im Wasser, in der Leere, ja.

Elfriede Jelinek, Die Schutzbefohlenen

Everything will be fine (2015)


Despite the profundity and thickness conferred to the projected image by the use of 3D techniques, it is a sense of flatness that arises from Wim Wenders’ Everything will be fine. It is a film about  processes of emotional flattening and thinning, particularly the feelings of guilt in regards to someone’s death. James Franco plays the character Thomas, a (initially struggling) Canadian writer, who after accidental- and fatally running over a little boy playing with his brother in the snow, uses this tragic incident as writing material and thus launching his career as a best-seller author. One could consider Thomas to be embodying a sort of paradox. On the one hand this character’s life is punctuated by banality,  an inability to react emotionally,  a tendency to say platitudes and reproduce cliches (even his suicide attempt is included in this category), and an unaltered frowning facial expression, which far from inducing one to perceive this character as someone engaging with deep complex thoughts, only heightens the suspicion that Thomas probably doesn’t have a very rich interior life. On the other hand, this person seems to be writing profusely about delicate and difficult human situations. The writer performs the stereotyped figure of the tormented artist on the surface, but he lacks the actual imagination, he can only write about the events of his life formatted to the rules of the best-seller industry. Wenders is subtitle enough not to let the spectator know  if the film he/she is watching functions as a cinematographic adaptation of Thomas’ novels, or if what Thomas is writing is a novelisation of the film (second degree reflection goes both ways). Towards the end of the film, Thomas’ stepdaughter even bluntly says that if Thomas chooses to finish his novel with the return of the boy (one presumes the dead child) it would be “lame”. Is this also a remark to the film’s own claim to a “fine” ending, in which the brother of the killed boy comes to visit Thomas, and forces on him a sort of expiation act? Perhaps the “fine” in the title doesn’t necessarily point to the idea of happiness, but attempts at suggesting that everything will be fine if one learns to deal with emotion, and the violence of death prompting unexpectedly in everyday life. This requires space and profundity and the opening of thought to presence. Wenders’ use of 3D is an experiment to open this space, and from there to work differently with emotion and thought, differently from the ways of literary speech, which is reduced to ashes through the burning of a William Faulkner’s novel, and the flattening of Thomas’ writings. The 3D intensifies the sense of presence, and simultaneously it makes the absence of the dead child conspicuous, we never see him. Thus invisibly death permeates the screen, to this presence each character reacts (each in its own way). Will everything be fine?