I went on a Peter Nestler-binge today. Peter Nestler is a German filmmaker who did documentaries in the 1960s. Many of his films carefully analyze a certain sociotop. There is little to no third-party narration, instead the depicted persons do a voice over, or texts written by themselves are read by a professional speaker. That makes the protagonists acting subjects instead of mere objects of our observation. It conservers part of their personality much better, I think. Among the topics are a worker's club in Sheffield and a school in a Suisse village, with kids reading their essays. The second film, titled "Essays", is arguably the most endearing of Nestler's work. It is very hard not to like the pupils, each of whom is depicted as a genuine individual, and their caring young teacher.
Nestler shifted his focus closer to home in 1964, when he portrayed the small town of Ödenwaldstetten in the Swabian Jura. The work had been commissioned by the regional television station SWF, and the people at SWF did not like what they saw. At all. Having suisse village children speaking heavily accented German was bad enough. But he topped it off by depicting village life in their own area in a similar (benevolent, but realistic) light. After Ödenwaldstetten, Nestler was considered unemployable in Germany, as his movies were deemed unwatchable and unbearably leftist. In 1968, Peter Nestler emigrated to Sweden, where he worked for SR.
Ödenwaldstetten is close to my heart because it is shot near my hometown. The faces in this movie look very similar to the faces I saw around me when growing up. Many sentences being said in this movie could have been said exactly like that by old people in the 1980s, allthough by the 1980s, circumstances were very different.
The movie certainly has a leftist tinge, as it works hard to depict economical differences. We see old people working their fields with scythes and horses, we see workers in a sewing shop owned by Herr Stotz, who is claimed to "have money enough". We don't see it in the movie, but Herr Stotz, who passed away in 1987, was an avid car-collector. His collection is on display in a museum in Engstingen, see http://www.automuseum-engstingen.de/Startseite.html
. Nestler tells us the hourly wages of all the workers. The Ödenwaldstetten depicted in this movie stayed like that for maybe another five years, at most. Life was changed considerably by an increase in commuters and the merging of small rural municipalities by the state government. Most importantly, it was not economical to continue small-scale farming operations. In 1960, 2/3 of Swabian farmers worked 5ha or less.
There is a downside to Nestler's style. Without an explanation, the films are increasingly misunderstood, as fewer and fewer people have the knowledge and cultural background to properly grasp their content. One example: a 2017 review of "Ödenwaldstetten", published in renowned German weekly die Zeit, contains the fragment
>Der Aussiedler, der als Existenzgründer deutsche Äcker umpflügt
a vague translation would
>The resettler who, as a founder of a new farm, plows the German soil
I translated the word "Aussiedler" with "resettler" here, but the term is not really adequate. In German, the word "Aussiedler" usually takes one of two very distinct meanings.
1.) Ethnic German immigrant from communist Eastern European countries. Much of Eastern Europe had had a seizable ethnic German minority for centuries.
2.) Farmer who moved his home and farm buildings from inside village to the open fields outside the village, to the middle of his own farmland. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aussiedlerhof
From the context, it is obvious to me that the second meaning applies.
But in the article, the author takes the word "Aussiedler" to mean an ethnic German immigrant from Eastern Europe. Perhaps because he would love that village to be more multicultural than it was. Or maybe he simply does not know the second meaning. With Nestler's other films, I might be a victim to similar misinterpretations. Seemingly, these documents of the recent past will be barely comprehensible in one or two generations.
A non-jugemental non-interpreting capture of the past suffers from the paradox that it is indecipherable to future viewers, as memory becomes history. I can watch Ödenwaldstetten and get a sense of what life was like for these people. Others might be grossly mislead.
Anyways, here are a few links to Nestlers films, so Ernst can watch if he likes to.
With English subtitles
- Essays, about a school in the Suisse Simmental. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTv1XOYD94s
- Ödenwaldstätten, about a village in the Swabian Jura. Ignore the subtitles from 03:00 to 05:00, they are utter bunk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wj81lSMTbCM
- many others available on this channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2tPV2AGU7blkgBSZE2SNPg
Without English subtitles
- About workers in Sheffield, unfortunately, you do not get mutch of the english original voices https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6y6WJc3YJGU
- Work about the Ruhr area, a huge part is narration about the Ruhr revolution https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfMtPodP4_k>>51772
>I finished the first season of twin peaks today. I’m not quite a series enjoyer but I liked every aspect of this one. I heard the two next seasons aren’t worth watching so I’ll head to the movie.
I watched it in about 2012 when it was still available on youtube. I don't have much memory of it. But I remember seeing part of an episode much, much earlier on TV, accidentally. From those 5-10 minutes, I considered it an American drama in the vain of Dynasty or Dallas, just with a saw mill instead of oil. Maybe Lynch uses an intriguing, but hard to decypher pastiche of TV-genres of yesteryear, or maybe I am just seeing things.