Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Kill Daddy Goodnight: not just history


Melbourne International Film Festival 2009

Kill Daddy Goodnight (Das Vaterspiel), an Austrian feature, draws in the viewer gradually. Director/screenwriter Michael Glawogger has created a holocaust film with a difference. The Jewish victims are Lithuanian as is their exterminator. The horror is mostly “off-stage” without the detailed re-enactment customary in this genre.

The job of exploring the dark side is entrusted to a flawed character. The protagonist Rupert Ratz (Helmut K√∂pping) is an unlikely standard bearer for the truth. He loves his alcoholic mother, is in love with his volatile sister, and hates his politician father. A suitable case for Freud. The movie’s title refers to Ratz’s video game where you get to kill your father endlessly.

A call from of the strange and formidable Mimi (Sabine Timoteo) brings him to New York and to a dark, hidden history. Ratz's more "innocent" intent is to consummate his long held lust for her.

The film is punctuated by testimony from holocaust victim Jonas Shtrom (Ulrich Tukur) about his wartime experiences and his search for Lukas (Itzhak Finzi), one of the Lithuanian responsible for the death of his father.

Like The Reader it’s not quite a search for understanding. We find it nearly impossible to empathise with a mass murderer, contrite or otherwise. Similarly it is impossible to really share the horror of the survivors.

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