2 May 2008 | Bunuel1976
MACHORKA-MUFF (Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet, 1963) **
I’ve somehow never been drawn towards pursuing the work of these art-house film-makers (even if a good many of them have turned up over the years on a specialized programme on late-night Italian TV); having now, at long last, stumbled upon one of them I can understand why! The premise of the 17-minute short, in itself, isn’t too bad – a number of former Nazi officials reconvene years later in order to bestow an honor upon a former colleague – but the treatment is so austere as to be alienating, resulting in a largely unappetizing film!
Intermittently, however, there’s an agreeable irreverence at work here: to begin with, all the Nazis have two surnames (and always starting with the same letter, such as the titular figure); a dream sequence in which the protagonist enters a museum and uncovers a statue atop a balcony of himself; the illusion that military men can do no wrong because at no point in the Bible does Christ judge them!; the recipient of the tribute – a Major who had suffered dishonor, and subsequently died in exile, because his company suffered losses in combat amounting to a mere 8,500 men – has his reputation restored in the wake of an investigation which has firmly established that the death toll was actually in excess of 14,500!!