Volume 6, Issue 1, 2010
An exchange of letters, written in German, between Bernard Banoun and Susan Bernofsky, addressing issues relating to translation, and particularly to their translations of the works of Yoko Tawada into French and English, respectively.
A conversation with the translator and scholar Bernard Banoun. The following conversation took place in Berkeley on October 29, 2009.
This essay explores how humor, parody, and self-parody have shaped and reshaped the public image of the filmmaker Werner Herzog, especially since the 1990s and with the help of various spectators, particularly those who create and circulate their own images of the iconic German director. To see this dynamic at work, we have to look not only at Herzog’s films, but also at his many interviews and public appearances, at his performances in films made by other directors, at animated cartoons and reality TV programs, at Internet blogs and streaming videos, at comedy websites and live-comedy shows. Collectively, this material suggests that the revitalization of Herzog’s career in recent years has relied in part on humor and parody: that of the filmmaker and that of his audience.
After achieving critical success as one of Germany’s leading contemporary film makers with his Gespenster/Ghosts trilogy (2000, 2005, 2007), Christian Petzold’s subsequent film, Jerichow (2008) has continued his interest in utilizing genre conventions to explore the dynamics between his central characters, lost in the forgotten and empty spaces of post-unification Germany, this “Zwischendeutschland.” A loose adaptation of James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice, and thus assuming a position in an enduring series of celebrated film adaptations of the novel in Hollywood and European cinema, Petzold’s film sets the ménage-à-trois in place in the depopulated landscape of northeastern Germany. With the inevitable crime playing out against the “immanent borderscapes that make up the heart of late capitalist Germany” (Abel 2008), Petzold’s use of genre cinema again raises questions about the economic and political settlement of Germany set against the urban and provincial spaces of late capitalism, and about the impossibility of returning home.