Lost in Darkness: The Cruel Post-war Germany of Finsterworld

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There are dark secrets hidden in the German woods.
There are dark secrets hidden in the German woods.

Finsterworld by Frauke Finsterwalder is a movie that tells a lot about Germany to foreigners as well as to the homegrown. Scripted by the director’s husband, the renowned Swiss author Christian Kracht, Finsterworld provides a broad kaleidoscope of German life today. Through several entangled stories the viewer is drawn into a world of ugliness, fetish, and callousness. Please do not consider this a tour guide to Germany.

What makes this movie so important is the post-modernistic approach to the German society. Similarly as Christian Kracht did in his novel Faserland, which means ‘fiberland’ in English and is obviously a pun on the English word fatherland, we behold a society that has lost its integrity. People live their lives separated from one another without a conjunctive ideal.

Thus people get lost and their lives seem to have no direction. Like the fibers of a rope, all individuals take different paths, and that leads to overall confusion and chaos. The storytelling is done in a similar way. Different stories interrelate in the process of telling like the different fibers of a rope which has become loose.

To give you a sample of the stories told, we have a young policeman who accepts bribes and loves to put on pet costumes. This frightens his girlfriend – a frustrated filmmaker – when she finds out, so that she decides to take a trip to Africa.

Furthermore, we see a high-school class on their trip to the former Nazi Concentration Camp in Dachau. A boy (Leonard Scheicher) decides to run away from the excursion group after he has seen his friend giving the school bully (Jakub Gierszal) a kiss for money at a rest stop.

He walks in the fields until he is seized and beaten by a worried husband whose wife wanted to pass water next to the road. The couple turns out to be the dysfunctional parents of the class bully and the two of them decide to take the boy to the next rest stop.

Morevover, a hermit who is outraged about the break-in into his hut in the woods and the killing of his pet raven he has nursed back to health takes his rifle and fires randomly at cars. These are just a few threads of the story which are all connected in one way or another.

To sum things up, Finsterworld is a highly sophisticated reflection about the post-war German society and its handling of Nazism. This includes the modern German inclination to ugliness, technology, and utter cruelty.