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Donnerstag, 16. April 2015

Some thoughts on Mara- the film by Tommy Krappweis

Tommy Krappweis, inventor of German cult cartoon character (uh, am I possessed because I write in aliterations?;-)) "Bernd das Brot", has made a very, very great film. "Mara und der Feuerbringer", a spellbinding story about a young girl discovering that she is a spákóna and has to save the world from the fate of the Gods, the Ragnarök, has a lot to offer. Dragons, Vikings, professors dunked into a stream and THE idol of many students of Old Norse literature, Prof. Dr. Rudolph Simek, in a role playing himself as a teacher. And there is a most evil character, a new-born God called Loge, the firebringer. This ursurper kidnaps the wife of Loki, the genuine Old Norse God of fire, deception and satire, the trickster of the Gods. Myth has it that Loki was bound by the thundergod, Thórr, to a rock and tortured by the poisonous saliva of a giant snake fastened above him. His wife, Sigyn, helps Loki by gathering up the saliva in her magic bowl. But when the bowl is full, she has to empty it, and when Loki is hit by the poison again, he writhes and cries, and his cries shake the ground. Ultimately, the shaking earth will loosen his bounds, and then the end of the world as we know it will come. Now Sigyn (and her bowl) are kidnapped, and if you take that to mind you realize the world´s in for big trouble. Mara, with the help of Prof. Weissinger and a migration-era superhero is the only one capable of bringing back Sigyn and her bowl from the captivity of Loge.

Loge has many characteristics of Surtr, the Eddic fire giant, but there is more to him. For he has been born out of a wrong translation and Wagnerian hype. And the perversion of Old Germanic mythology by the Nazi regime in the Third Reich, one might add.

Prof. Weissinger, in one scene of the movie, states that he owes the fact that his office is situated in the basement of the University to the Nazis and their ideology that up until now renders a study of the subject near impossible. He gets infuriated by the media hype about vikings with horned helmets, cartoon characters and underwear models as Norse heroes... this I take as a very little nasty comment on recent media productions not exactly brimming with authenticity, so to say;-).

And, OH, how well I can relate to this! I once studied Old Norse literature as well, at Bochum University. We were constantly threatened by closure, were cut short on finance, had no access to modern literature and constantly had to legitimate ourselves for studying topics such as runeology, a science about the study of runes and runic inscriptions, since the Nazis also  did this and that.

Enter Loge. He is not just the personification of Wagnerian provenience, but also of the madness of the esoteric approach, of media hype, and the ultimate enemy of any sincere scientific and mythological approach towards Old Norse mythology. And, as C.G. Jung stated in Wotan (1928), the neglect of this genuine mythology ultimately leads to mass hysteria and neurosis, being one reason the Nazi regime had such an easy dealing with the mass psyche of Germany.

We live in a world where surface is everything, where buying, selling and consuming are the primary sense of life. Many of my so-called friends have developed a psychotic line of behaviour along this frenzy, this frantic run through life, where there are no values left.

Generally, there is a strong desire, an outright yearning for myth. But, as Ursula K. Le Guin, author of the famed "Earth Sea" series states in her foreword to the new book of the series, the industry is already reacting. By marketing hype and consumer politics even dragons are subject to buying and selling and thusly deprived of their enchantment and magic. I personally believe that this is not only due to business policies and marketing strategies, but a reactionary social process. People with a strong and stable character are less prone to hype and marketing hysteria. Genuine myth and fairy tale offer a strong method of character - building, and, it is a commonplace in psychology that myths have a strong influence on the development of personality and character. Strong characters have a tendency to question their own consumer behaviour. The media have long lost their objectivity in favour of spreading a mixture of fearmongering news and marketing. Product placement and underwear models as superheroes are a normal marketing strategy in our time. A true story without intent of selling anything but its own content is hard to come by. This goes as far as the use of fantasy classics such as the Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Apart from the movies which were not THAT bad, but not THAT good either, you can buy anything from t-shirts, cups, stickers, replicas, toilet paper and whatnot. The pictures created by the movie are commonplace now. Millions of fans now have the same picture of a king, with the associated merchandise flowing in behind. It is refreshing to see, however, that the victory over the wild psychological landscape of fantasy is not complete. Still there are artists, e.g. like my idol in blacksmithing, Gullinbursti creating art that brings up different pictures, and re-enacting the myth and thusly unmounting the rigid regime of those marketing pictures.

Enter Tommy. I daresay he believes in myth and magic. He appears not a hazy-eyed dreamer, but in any case he wanted to create a modern myth to give back something to the world of fancy and dreams in the best sense of the word. He is very authentic and created a genuine myth.

And here comes the culprit: He did so with co - financing by a big-player TV production corporation famed for hype and marketing in the worst sense of the word. Of course, this corporation does nothing else than other corporations do. But I personally have the impression that they financed a production they deemed harmless and serviceable only to learn there was a myth created with a lot of potential to endanger many marketing strategies they had thought up. What better way then to get rid of it than doing no marketing for the movie and letting it die? From an accounting depreciation point you could easily account it as a dismission depreciation, and there´d be no second part to fear. More important yet was that the distribution corporation tried to label it as a mere children´s movie while it actually is THE best fantasy movie Germany has come up with since the venue of the Michael - Ende novel film "Die unendliche Geschichte" (The Neverending Story). The message was "leave the making of fantasy films to the Americans, they know their trade better". This would have been the end of the story.

But that does neither take into account Tommy nor the community he created in two weeks time. Throughout Germany, people from many social backgrounds socialized and visited the cinema to watch the movie repeatedly - as a statement. They went there in their re-enactment attire or as a cosplayer. I daresay, Loge is writhing now in anger;-). And why should it be that German directors should not be able to create a decent fantasy film? There´s no reason they should not. German history is brim full with authors of fairy tales (Grimm, E.T.A Hoffmann, Eichendorff, Storm, Goethe, Schiller, just to name a few). The German fantasy scene is thriving and is one of the liveliest in the world.

Mara is not just a film now. It is a movement, and I am proud to have part in it. I am proud to kick Loge´s ass myself. It is about time that real people took to peacefully repairing a shattered world.

Tommy has started it. He is a genuine, true hero to me. I ask... what would be if the rebels of dreams joined forces?

I just want  my readers to take hope into the fact that still it is possible to have a mind open to real pictures of the mind, real fantasies, and real dreams... and that it is never too late to fight for your dream. Such as Tommy does and many others who follow him. 
Never surrender.

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Now go on, discuss and rant and push my ego;-). As long as it´s a respectful message, every comment is welcome!

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