From time to time in his work and elsewhere, Jean-Luc Godard will remind us that it was the French that invented cinema. It can be a useful reminder in trying to make sense of Asterix and Obelix Take On Caesar, starring Gottfried John as Caesar, largely because of the job it makes in trying to appeal to that magical mass American market. So what happens when you take that trusted and expensive blueprint to France?
When I don’t enjoy a film, I try my best not to proclaim it to be bad, as is the common temptation. If a lot of attention has been paid to the work, then even if I hated everything from the colours to the conceited conception, I find myself wondering what it was that people could have seen in it. This was in order with Institute Benjamenta (1996), and starring Gottfried John, so before I return to worrying about whether there was anything of any merit in it at all, I thought I had better scour the internet looking for viewers and critics that not only liked it, but were raised to spiritual highs by the long-laboured efforts of its creators.
As news of General Pinochet’s political corruption in Chile rings over a deserted Frankfurt skyline, we are fortunate to have a look into what Fassbinder really thinks of WDR’s ‘economic miracle’; and we visit Gottfried John as Anton Saitz in an office building, which looks shining and glassy on the outside – but is in fact empty.