Schloendorff Film OGRE
Tales from the Israelis
I watched Volker Schlöndorff.s The Ogre last night.
Schlöndorff is one of my favorite filmmakers. Perhaps because his work systematically zeroes in on the most preposterously successful disinformation campaigns of the 20th century and exposes them as such -- without trying to tell you what the "Truth" actually is.
Unfortunately, Schlöndorff has yet to record a Director.s Commentary for The Ogre. Perhaps he doesn.t know how much help the popular dialectic needs to understand even the most basic stuff -- so here I am, penning a draft to give him some idea of how clueless even some of his biggest fans are.
The Ogre is based on a French Novel entitled Le Roi des Aulnes, or The King of the Alder. I haven.t read it. I might. Maybe. If I win The Lottery (not Shirley.s, thank you very much).
Alder is a species of flowering plant found in the world.s temperate zones. In this case it refers to the temperate zone that runs through North East Europe -- specifically between 1940 and 1945 -- but arguably in general.
In Germany (Volcker is German) the film was released as der Unhold -- which means the Fiend
If the fiend in the German interpretation is the guy in a Nazi uniform aiming a gun at the head of an elderly gentleman who hasn.t quite had a chance to get dressed yet -- that guy is a Grocer.s Son, aka The Bourgeois. The elderly gentleman in his underwear is the Aristocrat.
And that.s John Malkovich -- as many of you will know -- playing the film.s hero/anti-hero . . . who.s name doesn.t just happen to be Abel. As in Cain and Abel, the world.s first murder victim, who happens -- for the occasion -- to also be an idiot savant, gazing -- in wonder -- from upper stage left. His lenses intact. (I wonder if Volker personally chose the three different renderings?)
The French version clearly thinks Abel.s the Ogre, even though they.re calling him The King of some flowering plant . . . belonging to the Birch family. Of all the things they could have zoomed in on, they chose the snarling Dobermans.
Since I.ve already almost ruined the film.s first surprise (although you may not realize it), I.ll go ahead and finish the job. The English version is recorded in English (d.oh), with the voice of John Malkovich, but the kid playing The Ogre as a kid has a very broad English accent -- as does everyone at the beginning of the North American release. So.
If you.re like moi and don.t wonder why everyone has a Limey accent from hell -- in a twilight zone Catholic orphanage -- you.ll get the shock of your life when the cops show up and they.re French! The author has been totally trashing The French -- their women in particular -- using English accents.
Whatever. I.ll have to think about that. Maybe. If I win the Lottery.
To the best of my recollection there are 3 Ogres named in the course of the film, the first one refers to the Malkovich character before 1940 (when Germany invaded France) and the third one refers to the Malkovich character after he starts herding children into a Nazi training camp for kids.
The Ogre in the middle of the movie, at the infamous turning point, is a giant blind moose!
See? That.s how come I love this Volker Schlöndorff guy. Even though the spin is in the original text for sure.
I just got this moose off the web. It doesn.t begin to do justice to the one Volcker found to pull off the tipping point of his film. Maybe that.s a big moose there but there.s no teeny tiny idiot savant John Malkovich right next to it to give you some idea of its size.
. . .
By now you may have gotten around to wondering, "Why is this a Tale from the Israelis?"
Because the hero of the story -- the guy pulled off by John Malkovich -- is named Abel. As in Cain and Abel of Genesis fame, first immortalized by the Israelis in the 6th century BC. They were, at that point, just writing down a story that developed, like Homer.s Iliad and Odyssey, over time and many years of wandering and chatting by the fire. But it.s generally acknowledged to be theirs. And I concur. And you.ll see why in a second.
In that version, Cain and Abel were Adam and Eve.s sons -- Cain being the first and, according to some people, actually really fathered by the Serpent.
Abel.s name as given in the Hebrew text (in consonants only) is thought to refer to the root word for "breath". Cain, by the same token, means Spear.
I had to look it up. Here it is: the story. Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd. They both made an offering to God and God favored Abel the Shepherd.s offering. So Cain killed him. In a fit of jealous rage.
The story is thought to have come down from Ancient Iraq, where archaeological evidence suggests the Hebrews wandered sometime around the 2nd Millenium BC, arriving on the scene from somewhere in the Arabian Desert -- on their way to Ancient Turkey.
Hebrew is from the Ancient Semitic word Habiru.
Depending on the source and epoch, the Habiru are variously described as nomadic or semi-nomadic, rebels, outlaws, raiders, mercenaries, and bowmen, servants, slaves, migrant laborers, etc.
throughout the Near East, the Habiru are found mentioned in contexts ranging from unemployed agricultural workers and vagrants to mounted mercenary bowmen.
Ancient Iraq, as we know, is the world.s first civilization. Some people think the world.s first civilization was Egypt, but no. The Ancient Iraqis were busy growing stuff and using wheels and alphabets beginning some time in the middle of the 6th millennium BC. The Egyptians didn.t get that organized for another thousand years.
So that.s why we.re thinking the Hebrews got the story from the Iraqis.
And this is where the story gets interesting. Because clearly the Ancient Iraqis were the Cains and the Ancient Israelis were the Abels. That.s why the farmer got named after a spear. They didn.t want to give the migrants good jobs anymore than America.s Europeans want to give good jobs to Hispanics or Europe.s Europeans want to give them to Africans.
Do we all remember what the Mark of Cain is?
In Christianity and Judaism, the curse of Cain and the mark of Cain refer to the Biblical passages in the Book of Genesis chapter 4, where God declared that Cain, the firstborn son of Adam and Eve, was cursed, and placed a mark upon him to warn others that killing Cain would provoke the vengeance of God.
END OF QUOTE so that.s pretty mixed up. You have to read it a couple of times, I think, to believe it.s saying what it.s saying.
So but, loosely translated what IS that saying?
Don.t provoke the indigenous people.s of Mesopotamia or God will kick your sorry arse . . . because the indigenous peoples of Mesopotamia are cursed by God.
And but what.s the migrant shepherd Abel still doing?
They just can.t quit. After all these years, they still just can.t quit. Maybe because they can.t hear the no
Sometimes the answer to really big problems comes down to something ridiculously simple. For centuries people have been sitting around, shaking their heads, thinking that humans are naturally evil. Why, why, why, why, why? Whatever was "God" thinking? But.
As it turns out, the answer is ridiculously simple. The unconscious doesn.t process negatives. It.s as simple as that.
Why would it be any different if I go on and on, for centuries, about how thou shalt not kill?
We don.t know if there was a Moses, much less a Burning Bush etc etc. But. What we do know is that the legend of his alleged exploits was codified, for what turned out to be hundreds of millions of people for thousands of years, some time between 539 and 334 BCE.
Here.s what your brain on Mosaic Law looks like:
1. I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery. You shall have other gods before Me.
2. Make an image or any likeness of what is in the heavens above.
3. Swear falsely by the name of the LORD...
4. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy
5. Honor your father and your mother.
7. Commit adultery.
9. Bear false witness against your neighbor.
10. Covet your neighbor.s wife.
Sound like anyone we know?