Der Grosse Verhau

Year: 1970

Production: Kairos Film

Director: Alexander Kluge

Starring: Siegfeied Graue, Vincenz Starr, Maria Sterr, Silvia Forsthofer

Screenwriter: Alexander Kluge, Wolfgang Mai

86 minutes; B/W

Besides being a withering critique of the costly pretentiousness of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Kluge's film is also a straightforward comedy, unique in the genre because instead of focusing on adventure or individual heroics, it provides an uncommonly intelligent picture of the type of society we will have in AD2034 if current trends are allowed to continue unchecked. The Milky Way is in a mess. After seven failed galactic revolutions and six lost wars, the Suez Canal Company is in total control of all means of transport and communication and, therefore , of all commerce and, consequently, of the social order. Some small entrepreneurs still work the more dangerous trade routes with aged spaceships amd a few smugglers do good busines wrecking other spaceships and selling them for scrap or making deals with insurance companies. Everybody is at war, the sharpest form of competition, with everyone else, but on the terms of the monopoly, which is also planning intergalactic military campaigns to acquire more raw materials and power. The film is marvellously acted, especially by Graue whose idiosyncratic way of rolling and biting the sounds of the German language is perfect for conveying the image of an ordinary bully (Douglas, the trigger-happy anxiliary pilot, trained in the air force), whose brain processes more scientific information than Einstein ever dreamt of but whose intelligence is that of the normal "company man". This combination of extreme technological competence and stunted intelligence offers a telling portrait of technocratic officials (astro/cosmonauts and the like) in the making. The space technology used is the exact opposite of that idealized in 2001: A Space Odyssey: spaceships are computers housed in ramshackle contraptions that look as if they were designed by cowboy plumbers. At last a film that puts the space heroes in their place: neither robots nor adventurous geniuses but people who realize that the values of shady shopkeepers, administered by military and other bureaucrats of social control - people who are the slightly dim-witted but competent servants of a system that exploits and ultimately destroys them - are those that rule the world. In the meantime, life goes on...

English title of this movie is The Big Mess.

The Overlook Film Encyclopedia - Science Fiction

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