Skip to main content

THE PATRIOT

Federal Republic of Germany, 1980 (MIFF 1981)

Director: Alexander Kluge

Alexander Kluge is the leading polemicist of the German cinema and his searching examinations of modern German society which also seek to find new forms and methods of expression have placed his work at the forefront of the new German cinema, a loose movement which Kluge led off most strikingly in his 1966 film Yesterday Girl.

He describes his latest film The Patriot as follows:

The spectator already knows the history teacher Gabi Teichert (Hannelore Hoger) from Germany in Autumn. In that film, there's a scene in a snow-covered landscape Gabi Teichert is digging. 'Either she's digging herself a shelter for the Third World War. or else she's digging for German history. Since then, I have been working on The Patriot. And now. in September. 1979. the film is finished Once again, it concerns Gabi Teichert. This time, she is digging deeper.

In the course of her researches she concerns herself with air-raids, with the SPD Conference, looks into the history of bodies, sees a department store being cleared, comes into conflict with her superiors and into contact with fairy tales, examines the relation of a love story to history, etc.: in all this she is direct and practical. She is trying out tools. How you work on a car or a piece of wood is common knowledge, but how do you work on the history of our beautiful country'?

The printed words in the libraries are not history The film politely passes over the unlortunate form which history assumes in the schoolroom — Gabi Teichert s everyday field. Which leaves the dead. They are history, and they are not just simply dead On this point, the knee of Stalingrad casualty Private 1 st Class Wieland provides more detailed information. Several things in German history look quite different when seen from the point of view of the dead knee

The spectator observes that, despite a certain quantity of narratable elements, any plot synopsis sends one back to the film itself It's all a question of context and connections!' 2,000 years of hopes wishes and toil on the part of people — and that's precisely what German history is — who. most of them, died for something they believed in and beliefs they acted upon: these go beyond the precise pinpointing of a plot synopsis It's the same with certain pieces of music: they have no content, but they do have substance."

Peter Buchka in Suddeulsche Zejrungsummed up the film as follows.

"This, in my opinion, is the film in which Kluge s aesthetic fully comes to life: it marks the fulfilment of his theory of film. Here, indeed, his enormous capacity for abstraction bombards the spectator like some hailstorm of imaginative fantasy Where previously Kluge's critical view of reality instantly disrupted any form of order, breaking down its separate elements until the contradictions collided with one another, here reality is chopped up into such minute but dense snapshots as to demand that the imagination fill in the space between them. In this sense The Patriot is not only a work which attests an enormously rich imagination, but also one which stimulates its audience to imaginative activity of their own'

See also...

OCCASIONAL WORK OF A WOMAN SLAVE

This film follows Alexander Kluge's earlier picture on the female condition, made in 1966, Yesterday's Girl. His new social satire takes as its protagonist an impoverished young housewife, Roswitha ... More »

THE BLIND DIRECTOR

THE BLIND DIRECTOR is conceived partly as a meditation on the closing years of this century. Writes Kluge: "There are times in this century which have the tendency to devour what has gone before as ... More »

33 Years After

Documentary on the trade with national-socialist products (books, records, medals and decorations) in West Germany in 1978. ... More »

Fury is a Feeling Too

Prize winner at 1984 MFF returns as part of the competition's 30th anniversary, with director Cynthia Beatt (The Party) Eluding easy catagonzation, this film is both a documentary on the city of ... More »

Self-Service

One can, if one has an appetite, eat a bowl of pea soup, and a sausage. One can, if one has an appetite for a really sad, funny, everyday story, watch how an old lady has an appetite for a bowl of ... More »

Camilla Horn Watching Herself Play Gretchen In Murnau's Silent Movie ‘Faust'

A film by: Hans Sachs and Hedda Rinneberg ... Leading player: Camilla Horn ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director