11 July 2011

One Man's War - Ernst Jünger in Paris

I just found this excellent documentary (in 8 parts)  juxtaposing Ernst Jünger´s life in Paris (via citations from his WWII Paris diaries "Strahlungen") with Vichy propaganda shorts and other film footage from the same years. On the one hand, the typical illusions of mass propaganda, with its simplistic facade of normality, its one-sided righteousness, its certainty in the evilness of the enemy and in the march to victory despite everything; all this spiced with a trite wit completely of out touch with the awful reality. On the other hand, Jünger's impartiality, his honest concise depictions of the real horrors, of the futility of it all, but also of the small moments of true humanity that emerge in wartime. At moments, his words also reflect his superior vision of the metahistorical significance of what was really coming to pass, above and behind not only the propagandistic illusions but also the material "reality of the day".

Incidentally, Jünger himself knew of this film, as a short passage from The Details of Time: Conversations with Ernst Jünger reveals. In those conversations with Julian Hervier, he only indicates that he had given the director Cozarinsky permission to make the film and in retrospect had no reason to regret the decision. Indeed - it is well done and provides excellent context for Jünger's difficult and yet enriching experience in occupied Paris. A big bonus: it has English subtitles with mostly decent translations of the Strahlungen citations.


4 comments:

roGER said...

A fascinating film. I was lucky enough to live in Paris between 1990 and 1996, and it was striking how little WW2 and the occupation was discussed or even (so it seemed) remembered.

Thanks to watching this rather harrowing film, I can now understand the deep levels of shame and the huge splits in French society that the occupation caused.

The propaganda is (to a modern sensibility) crass and transparent, and yet it's also undeniable that various public meetings and rallies in the film are well attended, and the applause and approval given to various horrible speeches genuine.

The everyday hardship of life in the city for ordinary people is also very apparent. It's a great shame that nobody has ever published Junger's 'reflections' of that period in English - I'm sure there would be a market for them.

Simon Friedrich said...

Indeed, it is generally a shame that Juenger's works are so little represented in English. Nevertheless, I am hopeful this will soon change - and try to do my part with this English blog!

A fascinating film indeed. I wonder how crass and transparent our own forms of propaganda will seem in 50 years or so. Listening to American television already sounds rather like propaganda to me - and if one listens to Fox or CNN news clips from Desert Storm etc, they are little different than these WWII ones. It takes a special ability to distance to be able to judge one's own society as if from the future or another continent.

Anonymous said...

I'm an young Ernst Junger fan - and having just finished Details of Time I'd be extremely interested in seeing this.

My youtube account name is DerBlitzstag

Anonymous said...

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