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THE STUBBORN MULE

Austria / Germany, 1980 (MIFF 1982)

Director: Franz Antel

Austria has had a low profile on the world festival scene for some time. The Stubborn Mule comes as a surprise for it truly captures and reflects that term applied to Nazism by Hannah Arendt about the banality of evil. The very banality of it makes it horrible.

Karl Bockerer is a butcher in Vienna in 1938 — the time of the annexation of the country by Germany. At first he is unaware of the nature of the change that has taken place, retreating into stubborn simple-mindedness when his wife and son become Nazis or when a Jewish friend leaves for the U.S. It is only after his best friend is arrested and sent to Dachau that he begins to understand what is happening around him. He then begins to use his guise of a fool to attack the regime and help.others to survive.

But he cannot help showing up the inanity of Nazi beliefs by his innocence and clarity in his own outlook. There is also a comic underlying irony to Bockerer's ways.

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