Cinema Europa / 11th May / 18.00

Genosse Münchhausen (Wolfgang Neuss, 1962)

Political cabaret is the too-little discussed red threat that holds Adenauer-era FRG cinema together: From the young nation’s founding years (Eric Ode & Günther Neumann’s Herrliche Zeiten, 1949/50) via it’s most exalted moment of international movie fame in 1958 (thanks to Rolf Thiele’s Das Mädchen Rosemarie and Kurt Hoffmann’s Wir Wunderkinder) till that particular moment when the old order was not yet out (Genosse Münchhausen) and the new one not yet comfortably in (Michael Pfleghar’s Die Tote von Beverly Hills, 1964). The caustically comical core of many of these works is Wolfgang Neuss: writer-actor-comedian-contrarian cum hero of many a local pothead for lighting up in public when few others dared. Genosse Münchhausen remained Neuss’ lone effort as a director (even if the 1960 Wir Kellerkinder can safely be considered his film, and not that of the credited director, Wolfgang Bellenbaum). Not surprisingly, it shows Neuss at his weirdest: The story about two farmers at the intra-German border who get into a battle over whose system induces more productivity — suddenly turns into a bizarre tale set in the USSR and revolving around a space project which finally gets our hapless protagonist not to Venus but a naturist resort in the FRG north… There is a reason why more normal movies used Neuss only in homeopathic doses; and the film’s utter lack of success did probably not come completely as a surprise. Still: Never shall we see a better documentary about the late Adenauer-era FRG’s pulp-paranoid phantasy life than Genosse Münchhausen.