From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 30.10.2010

Konrad Schuller sends chilling reportage from Ukraine, where following the sorry demise of the Orange revolution, the powers of darkness are reclaiming territory. He was also followed in the course of his investigations, Schuller reports, and introduces the man responsible: oligarch, media tycoon and now head of the Secret Service, Valeriy Khoroshkovsky is locking up high-ranking civil servants from the Timoshenko administration. Anatoliy Makarenko, the former Head of Customs, for example, who " is now sitting in Isolator No.1, a prison that dates back to the days of the Czar. His lawyer Juriy Suchov describes the cell: 14 square metres for four men, water tap, toilet with no privacy. The showers still have gaping bullet holes from executions carried out under Stalin, and when the guards put the food on the floor in the hallway, out come the rats. Families are allowed to visit once a month – which, due to the tuberculosis in the prison, is not without risk. Prison is once again a political category."

Die Welt 01.11.2010

The German public TV channel das Erste is screening a two-part biopic about Pope Pius XII. The production company has close ties to the Vatican and the film is intended to smooth the way to the beatification of the former pope by Benedikt XVI. Alan Posener talks to Rolf Hochhut, the author of "The Deputy" which indicted Pius XII for failing to talk out against the Holocaust. Events in the film he says, have been given a thick sugar coating. In the light of recent revelations about the role the German Foreign Ministry in the Holocaust, his answer to the question about what inspired him to write his play is particularly illuminating: "It was because of Hitler's last ambassador to the Holy See, Ernst von Weizsäcker, father of the later Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker, who in an almost triumphant letter wrote from the Vatican to the Foreign Ministry, and I quote: 'The Pope, despite being assailed from all sides, has not allowed himself to be drawn into making any demonstrative statements against the evacuation of Jews from Rome.' And with that, Weizsäcker said, the unpleasant problem, was 'liquidated'."

Frankfurter Rundschau 01.11.2010

Peter Michalzik was thoroughly entertained at the Elfriede Jelinek evening in Cologne's Schauspielhaus theatre where, he says, director Karin Beier "remained faithful to the text" in the premiere of three new pieces "Das Werk", "Im Bus" and "Ein Sturz". The latter, which means "collapse", is a "brilliantly malicious" local farce about the collapse of the Cologne City Archive: "The cast is strong but the show was stolen by Kathrin Welisch who flits through 'Ein Sturz' as a naked imp: she is the Earth, wet, oppressed, intangible. Until the Water comes. Earth and Water, in Jelinek's world, get it on. When Karin Beier brings together choreography, violence and a tank of water, she creates the hottest sex scene ever seen on stage."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

In France, the Bettencourt Affair reached new heights when the offices of Le Monde, Le Point and Mediapart were broken into and computers, recordings of phone calls, and evidence stolen. Jürg Altwegg's doesn't scrimp with the sarcasm in his commentary: "A Secret Service official has actually confirmed that the government used its agents illegally against the newspapers. Anywhere else, heads would be rolling now. But not in France, where not a single politician in a position of power has uttered a word of protest against the proceedings. Nor have they made a statement about the threat to the press freedom – in the Reporters without Borders Press Freedom index, France dropped to 44th place."

Die Welt 03.11.2010

In an interview with Peter Praschl, director Olivier Assayas talks about his film "Carlos" and makes it very clear that the man was a marionette. "As far as I am concerned, there is no such thing as terrorism which is not some form of state terrorism. The idea of the revolting individual who throws bombs because he hates the state is a 19th century idea. Of course the foot soldiers are sold a narrative which allows them to think of themselves as autonomous revolutionaries. But the people who make the theories and finance the operations are interested in geopolitics. Every terrorist act is a message sent from one state to another."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 04.11.2010

Gottfried Knapp was at the Shanghai Expo – which despite the millions of vistors, offered a stomach-churning vision of the future. "In the history of the world exhibition, Shanghai marks a return to the days when world exhibitions were like Olympic Games in which countries competed to get the most medals.... The nations of the world gathered here to compete for the favours of the world's most important business partner and the Chinese population as nascent tourists. ... But when pavilions from around the world offer nothing but young people miming happiness in front of beautiful landscapes and cites, the individual impressions soon merge into a sea so sweet and sour that it's impossible not to feel queasy."

Die Tageszeitung 04.11.2010

Georg Seeßlen found Angela Schanelec's new film "Orly" "tender, relaxed and ironic". The film observes two hours in the Parisian airport and tells four fragments of people's lives. "You could imagine God sitting in an airport waiting area, dolefully observing the people spending a peculiar in-between period of their lives. But he cannot exert any influence on the life of his creations. Or he doesn't choose to, which is probably the same thing where God is concerned. At any rate the God of sitting about and watching does make an appearance in Angela Shanelec's 'Orly', in a letter that is read as a voiceover at the end of the film, while the airport is being cleared after a handbag is discovered in a rubbish bin. Perhaps you could substitute 'art' for 'God'."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 05.11.2010

If China is to democratise, says literary historian Wang Hui in an interview, it will have to happen from inside. And people in China are able to talk about most things by now: "Every province and every major city has its own newspaper and TV programmes. And it's not so easy to control that many media outlets. European intellectuals have not always had this much freedom. Overcoming hurdles to make yourself heard in public is a major part of what it means to be an intellectual. This is why I believe that the qualitative question is the one that should be asked in China now: whether intellectuals are sufficiently capable of posing critical questions." - let's talk european