Thursday, February 05, 2009

Wilkommen zuruck

The new job is going well. The last couple of days the office has been something of a ghost town, with staff either ill or unable to make it to work owing to the current adverse weather conditions. Today is proving the worst day for snow thus far – certainly in my neck of the woods – with a heavy fall overnight and the stuff still coming down with a determined sense of purpose.

Whither the snow-ploughs? Whither the gritting trucks? Buggered if I know. Leaving the house at 7.30am to drive a paltry four miles to work, I made my way out of the estate – the snow a good five inches deep, the road and pavement having merged into a single drift of white – very slowly and in first gear. The road I turned onto carries a considerable volume of traffic and is a main bus route. It hadn’t been cleared or gritted. Traffic was at a standstill. I covered 200 yards in 40 minutes, and even that was like driving on sheet ice. Ahead, in the distance, cars had gone off the road and their hazard lights were blinking. Approaching traffic fishtailed and skidded.

I turned off onto the nearest side street and made my way back home. That took another ten minutes, some of the streets in the estate having been blocked by cars that had got so far then been unable to proceed or reverse and had simply been left there, hazard lights flashing away. My car is white over on the driveway now, its erstwhile tyre tracks completely covered.

I called the agency and left a message reporting my non-attendance at work. They rang me back a few minutes later to say the office is being closed today anyway.

So, with no sign of the snow abating and no reason to even attempt to venture out again, I’m declaring the German film-fest now open on The Agitation of the Mind. Two articles are already written, and I started sketching out a piece on ‘Downfall’ last night. I’m going to watch ‘The Lives of Others’ today, as well as marshalling my thoughts on ‘The Baader Meinhof Complex’.

When I originally had the idea for this mini-season, it was in context of ‘Downfall’, ‘The Lives of Others’ and ‘The Baader-Meinhof Complex’ as exemplars of how German cinema is currently examining some of the darkest moments of its recent past, and how a spate of mainstream English-language films seem to have latched onto this movement. Then it occurred to me to include ‘Good Bye Lenin!’ for a bit of light relief. (Watching it again two nights ago, yes, it’s definitely funny, but it’s also acidic in its satire and incredibly poignant in its closing scenes.) Then I remember that Wolfgang Peterson had, more than twenty years before ‘Downfall’, shown the war from a German perspective – a human perspective, moreover, not a political one – in his masterpiece ‘Das Boot’.

So please join me tomorrow, and prepare to dive with the crew of the U-96.

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