(East) German quadruple:
16. Lebensläufe / Biographies
(1981, 257 mins) 8/10 | 2 points
8th film in The Children of Golzow longitudinal documentary series, and the first really long one. Wasn't sure how to count the Golzow films for this challenge, but decided it would make the most sense to only count each individual 3+ hour film.
17. Drehbuch - Die Zeiten
(1993, 270 mins) 9/10 | 2 points
"Film preserves the image of a society sinking into history like amber. However, I will preserve myself from too much GDR nostalgia. This other Germany was only capable of life for a certain time. It didn't disappear in a war, but brought itself down. They, we, also I, merely arranged ourselves in the limits possible."
- Winfried Junge
The tenth film in the longitudinal documentary series following 18 children from the first day of school in Golzow, close to the Polish border in East Germany in 1961 all the way up to 2007, is a remarkable document of the life of GDR citizens in the years immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Many have lost their jobs due to a changing economy, others are doing better. Some are curious and optimistic about the rapidly changing times, others angry by the injustice and the fact that many people in the East German government that lied to them go free and are less affected by the changing times. While most people, much like the Golzowers who are mainly working class, are the worst affected.
But Drehbuch: Die Zeiten is also the story of an apologetic and defensive filmmaker, Winfried Junge, who, in documenting these children (now well into their 30s, early 40s) for nine films under East German rule, helped spread East German lies and propaganda. Much like in Michael Apted's Up-series, the longitudinal documentary format is also questioned, as the "Golzow children" have in various ways been affected by the popularity of the series, often in bad ways. Some Golzowers have chosen not to continue to have their lives chronicled, others are still okay with director Winfried Junges occasionally difficult questions and his choice of not always portraying the lives of these people in the best light.
For those interested in watching the Golzow films but don't have 43 hours to spare on the 19 films, I'd recommed the eight film Lebenslaufe, released in 1981 in the GDR and this tenth film, made in the first years after the GDR. That's still roughly nine hours of film to go through, but particularly this one is documentary gold: work that challenges the value of documentaries and its ethics - as well as asking questions about how well the reunion of Germany was handled.
18. Das Leben des Jürgen von Golzow
(1994, 192 mins) 8/10 | 1 point
11th Golzow film, and the first focusing on only one Golzower.
19. Piloten im Pyjama
(1968, 331 mins) 8/10 | 3 points
East German directors Walter Heynowski and Gerhard Scheumann goes to North Vietnam to interview ten American prisoners of war, pilots who had dropped bombs on North Vietnam and had been shot down and captured in the same country. Through four episodes, the "pilots in pyjamas" are interviewed by the East German directors about the gruesome reality of the bombing they have done, while sweating excessively, often struggling to look at the camera.
The filmmakers are using their power, as well as the awkward situation of the Americans that are interviewed, both to get the Americans to confess to what the directors call anti-communism, genocide and terrorism - but also to front communist propaganda. While the directors are open about the propaganda - through for example directly accusing the pilots to be no better than the Nazis in that they were "simply following orders" - they are also clearly trying to avoid making this look like what it really is, to paraphrase Amos Vogel, an interrogation without safeguards for the American pilots. Perhaps in the filmmakers' eyes they see it this way: it is their turn to be the victims here, not through dirty weapons such as cluster bombs, but through the more seemingly innocuous weapon that is the camera. That would perhaps be one reason to why through 311 minutes, only two minutes are spent giving a voice to the North Vietnamese themselves, a soldier who is portrayed as single-handendly shooting down seven American "Thunderchiefs", almost bringing the American war policy to an end by himself - like any good comrade would do.
While it is dirty documentary filmmaking in some sense, it is undoubtedly well argued for the East-German viewpoint and a great piece of anti-war filmmaking. Any film on the Vietnam War is by default political, and with the comforting distance away from the conflict today, it is interesting - and refreshing - to see a different approach to it then what is normally shown.
1. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) 8/10 | 1 point
2. True Detective (2014) 8/10 | 5 points
3. Scener ur att aktenskap (1973) 9/10 | 2 points
4. Short Cuts (1993) 7/10 | 1 point
5. Malcolm X (1992) 8/10 | 1 point
6. The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (2015) 9/10 | 3 points
7. Heaven's Gate (1980) 6/10 | 1 point
8. JFK (1991) 8/10 | 1 point
9. La roue (1923) 9/10 | 2 points
10. Napoléon (1927) 8/10 | 3 points
11. Twin Peaks (1990-91) 7/10 | 23 points
12. P'tit Quinquin (2014) 6/10 | 1 point
13. Monte Cristo (1929) 8/10 | 1 point
14. O.J: Made in America (2016) 8/10 | 5 points
15. Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980, 910 mins) 9/10 | 13 points
16. Lebensläufe / Biographies (1981, 257 mins) 8/10 | 2 points
17. Drehbuch - Die Zeiten (1993, 270 mins) | 2 points
18. Das Leben des Jürgen von Golzow (1994, 192 mins) | 1 point
19. Piloten im Pyjama (1968, 331 mins) 8/10 | 3 points
Total: 71 points