March 17, 2011 on 10:15 pm | In Film, History, Philosophy, Research | Comments Off on DANISH CINEMA: LARS VON TRIER AND “DOGME”


In the special features that accompany the 1991 film DVD “Europa” by Lar Von Trier, from Denmark, he makes reference to the “Dogme” Rules.

Lars Von Trier: Dogme 95

Dogme 95
Years active 1995–2005
Country International, started in Denmark
Major figures Lars von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg, Kristian Levring, Søren Kragh-Jacobsen, Jean-Marc Barr
Influences Realism, French New Wave
Influenced Mumblecore, New Puritans

Dogme 95 is an avant-garde filmmaking movement started in 1995 by the Danish directors Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg, who created the “Dogme 95 Manifesto” and the “Vow of Chastity”.

These were rules to create filmmaking based on the traditional values of story, acting and theme, and excluding the use of elaborate special effects or technology.[1] They were later joined by fellow Danish directors Kristian Levring and Søren Kragh-Jacobsen, forming the Dogme 95 Collective or the Dogme Brethren.

Dogme is the Danish word for dogma.

The genre gained international appeal partly because of its accessibility. It sparked an interest in unknown filmmakers by suggesting that one can make a recognised film of a quality to gain recognition, without being dependent on commissions or huge Hollywood budgets. The directors used European government subsidies and television station funding instead. The movement has been criticized for being an attempt to gain media attention.

Others hold that Dogme was initiated to cause a stir and to make filmmakers and audiences re-think the art, effect and essence of filmmaking.


The friends Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg wrote and co-signed the manifesto and its companion “vows”. Vinterberg said that they wrote the pieces in 45 minutes.[2] The manifesto initially mimics the wording of François Truffaut‘s 1954 essay “Une certaine tendance du cinéma français” in Cahiers du cinéma.

They announced the Dogme movement on March 22, 1995 in Paris, at Le cinéma vers son deuxième siècle conference. The cinema world had gathered to celebrate the first century of motion pictures and contemplate the uncertain future of commercial cinema. Called upon to speak about the future of film, Lars von Trier showered a bemused audience with red pamphlets announcing “Dogme 95”.

In response to criticism, Von Trier and Vinterberg have both stated that they just wanted to establish a new extreme: “In a business of extremely high budgets, we figured we should balance the dynamic as much as possible.”

The first of the Dogme films (Dogme #1) was Vinterberg’s 1998 film Festen (The Celebration). It was critically acclaimed and won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival that year. Lars von Trier’s Dogme film, Idioterne (The Idiots), also premiered at Cannes that year but was less successful. Since the two films were released, other directors have made films based on Dogme principles. French-American actor and director Jean-Marc Barr was the first non-Dane to direct a Dogme film: Lovers (1999) (Dogme #5). The American Harmony Korine‘s movie Julien Donkey-Boy (Dogme #6) also was considered a Dogme film.

Het Zuiden (South) (2004), directed by Martin Koolhoven, included thanks to “Dogme 95”. Koolhoven originally planned to shoot it as a Dogme film, and it was co-produced by von Trier’s Zentropa. The director decided he did not want to be so severely constrained as by Dogme principles.

Goals and rules

The goal of the Dogme collective is to purify filmmaking by refusing expensive and spectacular special effects, post-production modifications and other technical gimmicks. The filmmakers concentrate on the story and the actors’ performances. They believe this approach may better engage the audience, as they are not alienated or distracted by overproduction. To this end, Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg produced ten rules to which any Dogme film must conform. These rules, referred to as the “Vow of Chastity,” are as follows:[1]

1. Filming must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in. If a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where this prop is to be found.

2. The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. Music must not be used unless it occurs within the scene being filmed, i.e., diegetic.

3. The camera must be a hand-held camera. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted. The film must not take place where the camera is standing; filming must take place where the action takes place.

4. The film must be in colour. Special lighting is not acceptable (if there is too little light for exposure the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera).

5. Optical work and filters are forbidden.

6. The film must not contain superficial action (murders, weapons, etc. must not occur.)

7. Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden (that is to say that the film takes place here and now).

8. Genre movies are not acceptable.

9. The film format must be Academy 35 mm.

10. The director must not be credited.

Uses and abuses

The above rules have been both circumvented and broken from the first Dogme film to be produced. For instance, Vinterberg “confessed” to having covered a window during the shooting of one scene in The Celebration (Festen). With this, he both brought a prop onto the set and used “special lighting.” Von Trier used background music (Le Cygne by Camille Saint-Saëns) in the film The Idiots (Idioterne).

Since 2002 and the 31st film, a filmmaker no longer needs to have his work verified by the original board to identify it as a Dogme 95 work. The founding “brothers” have begun working on new experimental projects and have been skeptical about the later common interpretation of the Manifesto as a brand or a genre. The movement broke up in 2005.[3] Today, filmmakers submit a form online and check a box which states they “truly believe that the film … has obeyed all Dogme95 rules as stated in the VOW OF CHASTITY.”[4]


Remodernist filmmaker Jesse Richards criticizes the movement in his Remodernist Film Manifesto, stating in relation to Point 10, “Remodernist film is not Dogme ’95. We do not have a pretentious checklist that must be followed precisely. This manifesto should be viewed only as a collection of ideas and hints whose author may be mocked and insulted at will.”[5] American film critic Armond White also criticized the movement, stating that it was “the manifesto that brought filmmaking closer to amateur porn”. He believed the movement would be rejected as insignificant by film historians.[6]

Notable Dogme films

Complete list is available from the Dogme95 web site (via Internet Archive).

Notable figures

Notes and references

1. a b Utterson, Andrew. Technology and Culture, the Film Reader. Routledge. ISBN 9780415319850. http://books.google.com/books?id=EsVYBL8ytLMC&pg=PA87&dq=Dogme+95&lr=&as_brr=3&client=firefox-a&sig=ACfU3U3QPeg05053E9LO6MefbvdGpXAFag#PPA88,M1.

2. Krause, Stefanie (2007). The Implementing of the ‘Vow of Chastity’ in Jan Dunn’s “Gypo”. Verlag. ISBN 9783638768115. http://books.google.com/books?id=phzgbBQcBmAC&pg=PA5&dq=Vinterberg+45+minutes&lr=&as_brr=3&client=firefox-a&sig=ACfU3U26DR6ODq1OT0iLtLSfcp9DE4gPQw.

3. Kristian Levring interview (via Internet Archive)

4. Dogme 95 – Dogmefilms (via Internet Archive)

5. “Remodernist Film Manifesto”, When The Trees Were Still Real, August 27, 2008 Retrieved September 1, 2008

6. White, Armond (2004-03-09). “Digital Video Dogpatch: The king of false movement directs his ice queen”, New York Press. Retrieved on 2009-05-24.



March 17, 2011 on 10:08 am | In Art, Film, France, Globalization | Comments Off on THE 2008 FRENCH FILM “SUMMER HOURS”: HOKUSAI CONNECTION


L’heure d’été

“Summer Hours”

“Summer Hours” is a 2008 movie by French director Olivier Assayas and deals with the disposition, selling, donating of art objects in the household of a deceased artist Mr. Paul Berthier, after the death of the seventy-five year-old matriarch of the family.

One of the artists and his creations in the story of this house and the estate, a kind of Paul Berthier shrine and museum, is Felix Bracquemond.

“He was also a painter, ceramist, and an innovator in decorative arts. Gabriel Weisberg called him the “molder of artistic taste in his time”.[1] Indeed it was he who recognised the beauty of the Hokusai woodcuts used as packing around a shipment of Japanese china, a discovery which helped change the look of late 19th century art.[2]”

Félix Bracquemond

(May 22, 1833 – October 29, 1914)

Félix Henri Bracquemond (May 22, 1833 – October 29, 1914) was a French painter and etcher.

Félix Bracquemond was born in Paris. He was trained in early youth as a trade lithographer, until Guichard, a pupil of Ingres, took him to his studio. His portrait of his grandmother, painted by him at the age of nineteen, attracted Théophile Gautier‘s attention at the Salon. He applied himself to engraving and etching about 1853, and played a leading and brilliant part in the revival of the etcher’s art in France. Altogether he produced over eight hundred plates, comprising portraits, landscapes, scenes of contemporary life, and bird-studies, besides numerous interpretations of other artist’s paintings, especially those of Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier, Gustave Moreau and Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot. After having been attached to the Sèvres porcelain factory in 1870, he accepted a post as art manager of the Paris atelier of the firm of Haviland of Limoges. He was connected by a link of firm friendship with Édouard Manet, James McNeill Whistler, and all the other fighters in the impressionist cause, and received all the honors that await the successful artist in France, including the grade of officer of the Legion of Honor in 1889.

Bracquemond was a prominent figure in artistic and literary circles in the second half of the 19th century. He was close to writers such as Edmond de Goncourt and critic Gustave Geffroy, and numbered among his friends Millet and Corot, Henri Fantin-Latour, Degas and the Impressionist circle, and Auguste Rodin. He was one of the more prolific printmakers of his time and he was awarded the grande medaille d’honneur at the Universal Exhibition of 1900.

He was also a painter, ceramist, and an innovator in decorative arts. Gabriel Weisberg called him the “molder of artistic taste in his time”.[1] Indeed it was he who recognised the beauty of the Hokusai woodcuts used as packing around a shipment of Japanese china, a discovery which helped change the look of late 19th century art.[2]

He married French Impressionist artist Marie Bracquemond in 1869. He died in Sèvres.


1. Weisberg, Gabriel (September 1976). “Félix Bracquemond and the Molding of French Taste”. Artnews: 64–66.

2. Bouillon, Jean-Paul (1980). “Remarques sur la Japonisme de Bracquemond”. Japonisme in Art, Art Symposium (Tokyo: Kodansha International): 83–108.

Haviland & Co.

Théodore Haviland


David Haviland was an American businessman from New York dealing with porcelain. While seeking out new business interests, he arrived in Limoges, France and by 1842, he was able to send his first shipment of Limoges porcelain to the United States. He was also key in adopting a new process by which to decorate porcelain pieces developed in 1873. [1]

In 1890, David Haviland’s son, Théodore Haviland, built a very large and prominent factory in Limoges and introduced a variety of new processes for firing and decorating porcelain pieces. The Haviland company has since been overseen by grandson William Haviland, and great-grandson Theodore Haviland II.

Present Day

Haviland & Co. is still operating as Haviland Company, through the facilities are now modernized and now sell silverware, crystal, and giftware in addition to porcelain.


Haviland porcelain is highly desirable Limoges porcelain. Many of the older pieces are still in existence and are desirable as an antique or collectible item. It is estimated that there are as many as 60,000 Haviland porcelain patterns,[2] though it is difficult to determine as many of the patterns have never been formally named or catalogued, and factory records are incomplete. Attempts to catalogue the pieces have resulted in several systems, including the creation of Schleiger numbers, and informal naming by collectors.

Schleiger Numbers

This numbering system was developed by Arlene Schleiger beginning in the 1930s and was published in 6 volumes, and covered approximately 4000 examples of Haviland & Co. porcelain.[3]

Prominent examples

Haviland has produced many prominent pieces, including:


1. Haviland History

2. Haviland Online

3. What is a Schleiger Number?

4. The White House during Mary and Abraham Lincoln’s Residence



March 14, 2011 on 7:02 pm | In Film, Globalization, History, United Kingdom | Comments Off on EMPIRES AND IMPERIAL EXHIBITIONS AS COLLECTIVE DREAMS



The British movie classic, “This Happy Breed”, 1944, directed by David Lean, based on a Noel Coward script, makes mention of the 1924 Wembley empire exhibition.

British Empire Exhibition

The British Empire Exhibition was a colonial exhibition held at Wembley, Middlesex in 1924 and 1925.[1][2][3][4]

It was opened by King George V on St George’s Day, 23 April 1924. The British Empire contained 58 countries at that time, and only Gambia and Gibraltar did not take part. It cost £12 million and was the largest exhibition ever staged anywhere in the world – it attracted 27 million visitors.[5]

Its official aim was “to stimulate trade, strengthen bonds that bind mother Country to her Sister States and Daughters, to bring into closer contact the one with each other, to enable all who owe allegiance to the British flag to meet on common ground and learn to know each other”. Maxwell Ayrton was the architect for the project. The three main buildings were the Palaces of Industry, Engineering and Arts. The Palace of Engineering was the world’s largest reinforced concrete building, a building method that allowed quick construction.

A special railway loop line and station were built, to connect the site to London Marylebone station.[6] The various buildings of the site were linked by several ‘light railways‘, including the screw-driven ‘Never-Stop Railway’.[7][8]

Most of the exhibition halls were intended to be temporary and demolished afterwards, but at least the Palace of Engineering and the British Government Pavilion survived into the 1970s, if only because of the high cost of demolition of the huge concrete structures. The Empire Pool became the Wembley Arena, and at the suggestion of the chair of the exhibition committee, Scotsman Sir James Stevenson, the Empire Stadium was kept; it became Wembley Stadium, the home of Football in England until 2002 when it was demolished to be replaced by a new stadium.

The Exhibition was also the first occasion for which the British Post Office issued commemorative postage stamps. Two stamps were issued on 23 April 1924: a 1d in scarlet, and a 1 12d in brown, both being inscribed “British Empire Exhibition 1924”; they were designed by H. Nelson.[9] A second printing, identical to the first apart from the year being changed to 1925, was issued on 9 May 1925.[9] A List of Great Britain commemorative stamps gives further details of British commemorative postage stamps. Envelopes, letter cards, postcards[10] and many other souvenirs commemorating the event were produced as well.

A grand “Pageant of Empire” was held at the Exhibition in the Empire Stadium from 21 July 1924, for which the newly-appointed Master of the King’s Musick, Sir Edward Elgar, composed an “Empire March” and the music for a series of songs with words by Alfred Noyes. However, a later speaking engagement by Prince Albert at the exhibition on 31 October 1925 proved to be highly embarrassing due to the Prince’s pronounced stammer, which prompted him to consult speech therapist Lionel Logue for treatment.

The management of the exhibition asked the Imperial Studies Committee of the Royal Colonial Institute to assist them with the educational aspect of the exhibition, which resulted in a 12-volume book “The British Empire: A survey” with Hugh Gunn as the General Editor, and which was published in London in 1924.

The Palace of Engineering hosted the fencing events for the 1948 Summer Olympics.[11]

Railway exhibits

Several railway companies had display stands at the Exhibition; in some cases they exhibited their latest locomotives or coaches. Among the exhibits in the Palace of Engineering was the now famous railway locomotive, LNER no. 4472 Flying Scotsman; this was joined in 1925 by GWR 4079 Pendennis Castle. Several other railway locomotives were exhibited: in 1925, the Southern Railway exhibited no. 866 of their N class, which was brand new, not entering service until 28 November 1925.[12] The 1924 exhibition included a Prince of Wales class 4-6-0 locomotive of London and North Western Railway (LNWR) design, which had been built for the exhibition by the Scottish locomotive manufacturer William Beardmore & Co. Beardmore’s had previously built similar locomotives for the LNWR, which in 1923 had become a constituent of the newly-formed London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS); when the exhibition closed in November 1924, the LMS bought the locomotive from Beardmore.[13][14] In 1924, the Metropolitan Railway displayed one of their latest Inner Circle cars, a first class driving trailer which had been built in 1923.[15] In 1925, in the Palace of Housing and Transport, the Metropolitan displayed electric locomotive no. 15, with some of the panelling, doors and framework removed from one side, to allow the interior to be viewed; it had been built in 1922. A few years later, it was named Wembley 1924 in honour of the exhibition.[16][17]

London defended

From May 9 to June 1, 1925 No. 32 Squadron RAF flew an air display six nights a week entitled “London Defended” Similar to the display they had done the previous year when the aircraft were painted black it consisted of a night time air display over the Wembley Exhibition flying RAF Sopwith Snipes which were painted red for the display and fitted with white lights on the wings tail and fueselage. The display involved firing blank ammunition into the staduim crowds and dropping pyrotechnics from the aeroplanes to simulate shrapnel from guns on the ground, Explosions on the ground also produced the effect of bombs being dropped into the stadium by the Aeroplanes. One of the Pilots in the display was Flying officer C. W. A. Scott who later became famous for breaking three England Australia solo flight records and winning the MacRobertson Air Race with co-pilot Tom Campbell Black in 1934.[18][19]


1. British Pathe (agency) Film of British Empire Exhibition, reel one

2. British Pathe (agency) Film of British Empire Exhibition, reel two

3. British Pathe (agency) Film of British Empire Exhibition, reel three

4. British Pathe (agency) Film of British Empire Exhibition, reel four

5. Sunday Tribune of India (newspaper) Article on exhibition (2004)

6. Wembley Stadium loop line

7. British Film Institute Never-Stop Railway

8. British Pathe (agency) Never-Stop Railway film (probably 1925)

9. a b Jefferies, Hugh; Brine, Lesley (April 2008) [1986]. Great Britain Concise Stamp Catalogue (23rd ed.). Ringwood: Stanley Gibbons. pp. 38–39, S.G. 430–433. ISBN 978 0 85269 677 7. 2887(08).

10. Wembley British Empire Exhibitions stamps on The British Postal Museum & Archive website

11. 1948 Summer Olympics official report. p. 45.

12. Bradley, D.L. (April 1980) [1961]. The Locomotive History of the South Eastern & Chatham Railway (2nd ed.). London: RCTS. p. 90. ISBN 0 901115 49 5.

13. Cook, A.F. (1990). Greenwood, William. ed. LMS Locomotive Design and Construction. Locomotives of the LMS. Lincoln: RCTS. p. 59. ISBN 0 901115 71 1.

14. Baxter, Bertram (1979). Baxter, David. ed. Volume 2B: London and North Western Railway and its constituent companies. British Locomotive Catalogue 1825-1923. Ashbourne: Moorland Publishing. pp. 282, 285. ISBN 0 903485 84 2.

15. Snowdon, James R. (2001). Metropolitan Railway Rolling Stock. Didcot: Wild Swan. p. 113. ISBN 1 874103 66 6.

16. Day, John R. (1979) [1963]. The Story of London’s Underground (6th ed.). Westminster: London Transport. p. 68. ISBN 0 85329 094 6. 1178/211RP/5M(A).

17. Benest, K.R. (1984) [1963]. Metropolitan Electric Locomotives (2nd ed.). Hemel Hempstead: London Underground Railway Society. pp. 35,36,38,41,102. ISBN 0 9508793 1 2.

18. Scott, C.W.A. Scott’s Book, the life and Mildenhall-Melbourne flight of C. W. A. Scott, London : Hodder & Stoughton, 1934., Bib ID 2361252 Chapter 3, Aerobatics

19. London Defended Torchlight and Searchlight spectacle, The Stadium Wembley May 9 to June 1, 1925 official programme. London: Fleetway Press


  • The Lion Roars at Wembley, Donald R. Knight & Alan D. Sabey, privately published by D.R. Knight, New Barnet, 1984. ISBN 0950925101.
  • Geppert, Alexander C.T., ‘True Copies. Time and Space Travels at British Imperial Exhibitions, 1880-1930’, in The Making of Modern Tourism. The Cultural History of the British Experience, 1600-2000, eds. Hartmut Berghoff et al., Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002, pp. 223–48.
  • Geppert, Alexander C.T., Fleeting Cities. Imperial Expositions in Fin-de-Siècle Europe, Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

A colonial exhibition was a type of international exhibition intended to boost trade and bolster popular support for the various colonial empires during the New Imperialism period, which started in the 1880s with the scramble for Africa.

The British Empire Exhibition of 1924–5 ranked among these expositions, but perhaps the most notable was the rather successful 1931 Exposition coloniale in Paris, which lasted six months and sold 33 million tickets.[1] Paris’ Colonial Exhibition debuted the 6 May 1931, and encompassed 110 hectares of the Bois de Vincennes. The exhibition included dozens of temporary museums and facades representing the various colonies of the European nations, as well as several permanent buildings. Among these were the Palais de la Porte Doree, which today serves as the Cite Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration, as well as the Musee Permanente des Colonies, designed by architect Albert Laprode.[1]

An anti-colonial counter-exhibition was held near the 1931 Colonial Exhibition, titled Truth on the Colonies and was organized by the French Communist Party. The first section was dedicated to the crimes made during the colonial conquests, and quoted Albert Londres and André Gide‘s criticisms of forced labour while the second one made an apology of the Soviets’ “nationalities’ policy” compared to “imperialist colonialism”.

Germany and Portugal also staged colonial exhibitions, as well as Belgium, which had a Foire coloniale as late as 1948. Human zoos were featured in some of these exhibitions, such as in the Parisian 1931 exhibition.[2]

Colonial exhibitions

Exhibitions which may be described as colonial exhibitions include:


1. a b Blevis, Laure; Lafout-Couturieur, Helene; et al. (2008). 1931: Les Etrangers au temps de l’Exposition Coloniale. Paris: Gallimard.

2. “From human zoos to colonial apotheoses: the era of exhibiting the Other” by Pascal Blanchard, Nicolas Bancel, and Sandrine Lemaire



March 14, 2011 on 12:23 am | In Asia, Books, Film, History, Literary, Military, Research | Comments Off on FORCE 136 IN “BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI”


Force 136 and “Bridge on the River Kwai”

In the 1957 movie classic, “Bridge on the River Kwai,” the Jack Hawkins character, “Major Warden” recruits William Holden (“Shears”) to go with his commando group trained at the British commando school in Ceylon, back to the Kwai Bridge, to blow it up.

“Major Warden” mentions something called Force 316 several times.

This was a movie renaming of Force 136, an actual team.

Force 136

Force 136 was the general cover name for a branch of the British World War II organization, the Special Operations Executive (SOE). The organisation was established to encourage and supply resistance movements in enemy-occupied territory, and occasionally mount clandestine sabotage operations. Force 136 operated in the regions of the South-East Asian Theatre of World War II which were occupied by Japan from 1941 to 1945.

Although the top command of Force 136 were British officers and civilians, most of those it trained and employed as agents were indigenous to the regions in which they operated. British, Americans or other Europeans could not operate clandestinely in cities or populated areas in Asia, but once the resistance movements engaged in open rebellion, Allied armed forces personnel who knew the local languages and peoples became invaluable for liaison with conventional forces. In Burma in particular, SOE could draw on many former forestry managers and so on, who had become fluent in Burmese or other local languages before the war, and who had been commissioned into the Army when the Japanese invaded Burma.


SOE was formed in 1940, by the merger of existing Departments of the War Office and the Ministry of Economic Warfare. Its purpose was to incite, organise and supply indigenous resistance forces in enemy-occupied territory. Initially, the enemy was Nazi Germany and Italy, but from late 1940, it became clear that conflict with Japan was also inevitable.

Two missions were sent to set up (and assume political control of) the SOE in the Far East. The first was led by a former businessman, Valentine Killery of Imperial Chemical Industries, who set up his HQ in Singapore. A scratch resistance organisation was set up in Malaya, but Singapore was captured on 15 February 1942, soon after Japan entered the war.

A second mission was set up in India by another former businessman, Colin Mackenzie of J. and P. Coats, a clothing manufacturer. Mackenzie’s India Mission originally operated from Meerut in North West India. Its location was governed by the fear that the Germans might overrun the Middle East and Caucasus, in which case resistance movements would be established in Afghanistan, Persia and Iraq. When this threat was removed late in 1942 after the battles of Stalingrad and El Alamein, the focus was switched to South East Asia.

The India Mission’s first cover name was GS I(k), which made it appear to be a record-keeping branch of GHQ India. The name, Force 136 was adopted in March 1944. From December 1944, the organisation’s headquarters moved to Kandy in Ceylon, and cooperated closely with South East Asia Command which was also located there.

Force 136 was wound up in 1946, along with the rest of SOE.



The Oriental Mission of SOE attempted to set up “stay-behind” and resistance organisations from August 1941, but their plans were opposed by the British colonial governor, Sir Shenton Thomas. They were able to begin serious efforts only in January 1942, after the Japanese Invasion of Malaya had already begun.

An irregular warfare school, STS 101, was set up by the explorer and mountaineer Freddie Spencer Chapman. Chapman himself led the first reconnaissances and attacks behind Japanese lines during the Battle of Slim River. Although the school’s graduates mounted a few operations against the Japanese lines of communication, they were cut off from the other Allied forces by the fall of Singapore. An attempt was made by the Oriental Mission to set up an HQ in Sumatra but this island too was overrun by the Japanese.

Malayan Communist Party

Before the Japanese attacked Malaya, a potential resistance organisation already existed in the form of the Malayan Communist Party. This party’s members were mainly from the Chinese community and implacably anti-Japanese. Just before the fall of Singapore, the party’s Secretary General, Lai Teck, was told by the British authorities that his party should disperse into the forests, a decision already made by the party’s members.

In isolation, the Communists formed the Malayan Peoples’ Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA). Their first arms and equipment were either donated by STS 101 before they were overrun, or recovered from the battlefields or abandoned British Army depots. The MPAJA formed rigidly-disciplined camps and units in the forest, supplied with food by networks of contacts among displaced Chinese labourers and “squatters” on marginal land. Chapman had remained in Malaya after Singapore fell, but had no radio or means of contacting Allied forces elsewhere. Nevertheless, the MPAJA still regarded Chapman as the official British authority, and Chin Peng was appointed as liaison officer with Chapman.[1]

Singaporean World War II hero Lim Bo Seng had returned to Malaya from Calcutta in 1942, and recruited some agents who had made their way to India by 1943. Force 136 attempted to regain contact with Chapman in Operation Gustavus, by infiltrating parties which included Lim Bo Seng and former STS 101 members John Davis and Richard Broome by sea into the area near Pangkor Island. Their radio was unable to contact Force 136 HQ in Ceylon and the MPAJA contacts on Pangkor Island were betrayed to the Japanese.

The radio brought in by Gustavus was finally made to work in February 1945. Chapman was able to visit Force 136 HQ in Kandy and report. By this time, Force 136 had substantial resources, and in the few months before the end of the war, they were able to send 2,000 weapons to the MPAJA and no less than 300 liaison personnel. About half of these were British who had worked or lived in Malaya before the war, the others were Chinese who had made their own way to India or who had been taken there by Force 136 for training. With these resources, the MPAJA was built up to become a substantial guerilla army with about 7,000 fighters.[2] However, Japan surrendered before it had a chance to stage a major uprising.

In isolation in jungle camps for several years, the MCP and MPAJA had purged themselves of many members suspected of treachery or espionage, which contributed to their post-war hard-line attitude and led in turn to the insurgency known as the Malayan Emergency.


The Kuomintang also had a widespread following in the Malaysian Chinese community in the days before the War, but were unable to mount any significant clandestine resistance to the Japanese. Partly, this was because they were based among the population in the towns, unlike the MCP which drew much of its support from mine or plantation workers in remote encampments or “squatters” on the edge of the forest. Most of the KMT’s supporters and their dependents were therefore hostages to any Japanese mass reprisal.

When Lim Bo Seng and other agents from Force 136 attempted to make contact with Kuomintang networks in Ipoh as part of Operation Gustavus, they found that the KMT’s underground actions there were tainted by corruption or private feuding.[3]

Malayan resistance

The force also collaborated with many Chinese Malayan villages. As a multi religious and multi-racial country, the population of Malaya was also strongly divided along communal and religious lines, with some portion of the populace loyal to the Allied forces, while others loyal to Nazi Germany and Fascist Japan. Thus, agents risked the constant threat of being betrayed.

Even though the Malays (who are Muslims) and Indians were not badly treated by Japanese forces in the beginning of the occupation, later they too felt the hardship of life under the occupation and this was magnified by the brutal treatment of anyone who was suspected of being anti-Japanese (although hardly any atrocities were inflicted on them). Thus the SOE found a suitable backing among a few Malays and sent their officers to train local resistance forces famously known as Harimau Malaya Force 136 (Tigers of Malaya of Force 136). However, certain individuals in Malaya were strong supporters of the Japanese, and were actively involved in the notorious Kempeitai “mopping up” operations and other atrocities.

It was due to these ill-treatment that prompted the local populace’s involvement in Force 136. The main base for this group was near Gerik, a district in the state of Perak. The force’s main task was to form an intelligence-gathering network and, should prospects be favourable, to establish a resistance movement in northern Malaya. The force also arranged the reception of other parties of Force 136 who landed by parachute, providing them with guides and local contacts in the areas of their planned operations.

A novel loosely based on the exploit of the resistance force was produced in late 1980s and there were several known figures in the book including Lt. Colonel Peter Dobree, a well known commander of the force.


From 1938, Britain had been supporting the Republic of China against the Japanese, by allowing supplies to reach the Chinese via the Burma Road running through Burma. SOE had various plans regarding China in the early days of the war. Forces were to be sent into China through Burma and a Bush Warfare School under Michael Calvert was established in Burma to train Chinese and Allied personnel in irregular warfare. These plans came to an end with the Japanese conquest of Burma in 1942.

Strictly speaking, SOE was not tasked to operate inside China after 1943, when it was left to the Americans. However, one group, the British Army Aid Group under an officer named “Blue” Ride did operate near Hong Kong, in territory controlled by the Communist Party of China.

In Operation Remorse, an unscrupulous businessman named Walter Fletcher carried out dubious operations such as trying to obtain smuggled rubber, currency speculation and so on, in Japanese-occupied China. As a result of these activities, SOE actually returned a financial profit of GBP 77 million in the Far East. Many of these funds and the networks used to acquire them were subsequently used in various relief and repatriation operations, but critics pointed pointed out that this created a pool of money that SOE could use beyond the oversight of any normal authority or budget.


On 21 December 1940, a formal military alliance between Thailand under Field Marshal Plaek Pibulsonggram and Japan was concluded. At noon on 25 January 1942, Thailand declared war on the United States and Great Britain. Some Thais supported the alliance, arguing that it was in the national interest, or that it was better sense to ally oneself with a victorious power. Others formed the Free Thai Movement to resist. The Free Thai Movement was supported by Force 136 and the OSS, and provided valuable intelligence from within Thailand. Eventually, when the war turned against the Japanese, Phibun was forced to resign, and a Free Thai-controlled government was formed. A coup was being planned to disrupt the Japanese occupying forces in 1945, but was forestalled by the ending of the war.


Burma was the theatre in which the major Allied effort was made in South East Asia from late 1942 onwards, and Force 136 was heavily involved. Initially, it had to compete with regular formations such as the Chindits and other irregular organizations for suitable personnel, aircraft and other resources. It eventually played a significant part in the liberation of the country by slowly building up a national organization which was used to great effect in 1945.

Two separate sections of SOE dealt with Burma. One concentrated on the minority communities who mainly inhabited the frontier regions; the other established links with the nationalist movements among the majority Bamar peoples in the central parts of the country and the major cities. It has been argued that this division of political effort, although necessary on military grounds, contributed to the inter-community conflicts which have continued in Burma (Myanmar) to the present day.

There were Indians and Afghans who were part of Force 136 and were heavily involved in Burmese operation, like C. L. Sharma, an Indian Professor of Linguistics at British Army Headquarters in India who later became an active member of Force 136 and spent almost 6 years mainly in various missions of the Force in Burma.

Karens, Chins, Arakanese and Kachins

The majority community of Burma were the Bamar. Among the minority peoples of Burma, including Chins, Karens and Kachins, there was a mixture of anti-Bamar, anti-Japanese and pro-British sentiments. In 1942, the pro-Japanese Burma Independence Army raised with Japanese assistance, attempted to disarm Karens in the Irrawaddy River delta region. This created a large-scale civil conflict which turned the Karens firmly against the Japanese.

The Karens were the largest of the minority communities. Although many lived in the Irrawaddy delta, their homeland can be considered to be the “Karenni”, a mountainous and heavily forested tract along the border with Thailand. They had supplied many recruits to the Burma Rifles (part of the British forces in Burma during the early part of the war), and in the chaos of the British retreat into India, many of them had been given a rifle and ammunition and three months’ pay, and instructed to return to their home villages to await further orders. The presence of such trained soldiers contributed to the effectiveness of the Karen resistance.

A few British army officers had also been left behind in the Karreni, in a hasty attempt to organise a “stay-behind” organisation. In 1943, the Japanese made a ruthless punitive expedition into the Karenni, where they knew a British Officer was operating. To spare the population, a British liaison officer, Hugh Seagrim, voluntarily surrendered himself to the Japanese and was executed along with several of his Karen fighters.

However, Force 136 continued to supply the Karens, and from late 1944 they mounted Operation Character, which organised large-scale resistance in the Karenni. In April 1945, Force 136 stage-managed a major uprising in the region in support of the Allied offensive, which prevented the Japanese Fifteenth Army forestalling the Allied advance on Rangoon. After the capture of Rangoon, Karen resistance fighters continued to harass Japanese units and stragglers east of the Sittang River. It was estimated that at their moment of maximum effort, the Karens mustered 8,000 active guerrillas (some sources claim 12,000), plus many more sympathisers and auxiliaries.

SOE had some early missions to Kachin State, the territory inhabited by the Kachins of northern Burma, but for much of the war, this area was the responsibility of the American-controlled China-Burma-India Theater, and the Kachin guerrillas were armed and coordinated by the American liaison organisation, OSS Detachment 101.

The various ethnic groups (Chins, Lushai, Arakanese) who inhabited the border areas between Burma and India were not the responsibility of Force 136 but of V Force, an irregular force which was under direct control of the Army. From 1942 to 1944, hill peoples in the frontier regions fought on both sides; some under V Force and other Allied irregular forces HQ, others under local or Japanese-sponsored organisations such as the Chin Defence Force and Arakan Defence Force.

Burmese political links

The Burma section of Force 136 was commanded by John Ritchie Gardiner, who had managed a forestry company before the war and also served on the Municipal Council of Rangoon. He had known personally some Burmese politicians such as Ba Maw who had later formed a government which, although nominally independent, collaborated through necessity with the Japanese occupiers.

In 1942, when the Japanese invaded Burma, the majority Bamar (Burman) people had been sympathetic to them, or at least hostile to the British colonial government and the Indian community which had immigrated or had been imported as workers for newly-created industries. Bamar volunteers flocked to the Burma Independence Army which fought several actions against British forces. During the years of occupation, this attitude changed. The Burma Independence Army was reorganised as the Burma National Army (BNA), under Japanese control. In 1944, Aung San, the Burmese nationalist who had founded the BIA with Japanese assistance and had been appointed Minister of Defence in Ba Maw’s government and commander of the Burma National Army, contacted Burmese communist and socialist leaders, some of whom were already leading insurgencies against the Japanese. Together they formed the Anti-Fascist Organisation (AFO) under the overall leadership of Thakin Soe. Force 136 was able to establish contact with this organisation through links with Burmese communist groups.

During the final Allied offensive into Burma in 1945, there were then a series of uprisings in Burma against the Japanese, which Force 136 supported although it had little control or even influence over the rebellious BNA and its supporters. The first rebellion involved a locally recruited force known as the Arakan Defence Army turning on the Japanese in Arakan. The second involved an uprising by BNA units near Toungoo in Central Burma, beginning on 8 March 1945. The final uprising occurred when the entire BNA changed sides on 27 March.

The forces of the AFO, including the BNA, were renamed the Patriotic Burmese Forces. They played a part in the final campaign to recapture Rangoon, and eliminate Japanese resistance in Central Burma. The BNA’s armed strength at the time of their defection was around 11,000. The Patriotic Burmese Forces also included large numbers of communists and other irregulars with loyalty to particular groups, and those Karens who had served in the BNA and Karen resistance groups in the Irrawaddy Delta.

In arranging the acceptance of Aung San and his forces as Allied combatants, Force 136 was in direct conflict with the more staid Civil Affairs Service Officers at South East Asia Command‘s headquarters, who feared the postwar implications of handing out large numbers of weapons to irregular and potentially anti-British forces, and of promoting the political careers of Aung San or the communist leaders. The AFO at the time of the uprising represented itself as the provisional government of Burma. It was eventually persuaded to drop this claim after negotiations with South East Asia Command, in return for recognition as a political movement (the AFPFL).

Indian National Army

Another force operating under Japanese command in Burma was the Indian National Army, a force composed of former prisoners of war captured by the Japanese at Singapore and some Tamils living in Malaya. However, Force 136 was prevented from working with anyone in the Indian National Army, regardless of their intentions. The policy towards the INA was formed and administered by British India Command, a British rather than Allied headquarters.

Field Operations

Force 136 was also active in more conventional military-style operations behind Japanese lines in Burma. Such an operation could comprise a group of up to 40 infantry with officers and a Radio Operator, infiltrating Japanese lines on intelligence and discretionary search and destroy missions. Such missions, which could last several weeks (supplied by C47 transport aircraft) kept close wireless contact with operational bases in India, using high-grade ciphers (changed daily) and hermetically-sealed wireless/morse sets.

Every day (Japanese permitting) at pre–arranged times, the Radio Operator (with escorts) climbed to a high vantage point, usually necessitating a gruelling climb to the top of some slippery, high, jungle-clad ridge, and sent the latest intelligence information and the group’s supply requests etc., and received further orders in return. The Radio Operator was central to a mission’s success and his capture or death would spell disaster for the mission. To avoid capture and use under duress by the Japanese, every SOE operative was issued a cyanide pill.

One such Radio Operator was James Gow (originally from the Royal Corps of Signals), who recounted his first mission in his book “From Rhunahaorine to Rangoon.” In the summer of 1944, the Japanese push toward India had been stopped at the Battle of Kohima. In the aftermath of the battle, Japanese forces split up and retreated deep into the jungle. As part of the initiative to find out if they were reforming for a further push, he was sent from Dimapur with a 40-strong group of Gurkhas, to locate groups of Japanese forces, identify their strengths and their organised status.

Discretionary attacks on isolated Japanese groups were permitted (no prisoners to be taken), as was destruction of supply dumps. One particular Gurkha officer under whom James Gow operated was Major William Lindon-Travers, later to become Bill Travers, the well-known actor of Born Free fame.


SOE’s French Indo-China Section (1943-1945)

Force 136 played only a minor part in attempts to organise local resistance in French Indochina, led mainly by Roger Blaizot, commander of the French Far East Expeditionary Corps (FEFEO) and General Eugène Mordant, chief of the military resistance. From 1944 to 1945 long-range B-24 Liberator bomber aircraft attached to Force 136 dropped 40 “Jedburgh” commandos from the French intelligence service BCRA, and agents from the Corps Léger d’Intervention also known as “Gaur“, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Huard, into Indochina. However Indochina was not originally part of the South-East Asian theatre, and therefore not SOE’s responsibility. Notable French Force 136 members dropped in Laos in 1945 include: Jean Deuve (January 22), Jean Le Morillon (February 28), Jean Sassi (June 4)[4], Bob Maloubier (August)[4]

There were also American reservations over restoring the French colonial regime after the war, which led the Americans eventually to support the anti-French Viet Minh.[5] Together with the complexities of the relationships between the Vichy-leaning officials in Indochina, and the rival Giraudist and de Gaullist resistance movements, this made liaison very difficult. SOE had few links with the indigenous Viet Minh movement.
Dutch East Indies & Australia
Except for the island of Sumatra, the Dutch East Indies were also outside South East Asia Command’s area of responsibility until after the Japanese surrender. In 1943, an invasion of Sumatra, codenamed Operation Culverin, was tentatively planned. SOE mounted some reconnaissances of northern Sumatra (in the present-day province of Aceh). In the event, the plan was cancelled, and nothing came of SOE’s small-scale efforts in Sumatra.

Another combined Allied intelligence organisation, Special Operations Australia (SOA), which had the British codename Force 137, operated out of Australia against Japanese targets in Singapore, the other islands of the Dutch East Indies, and Borneo. It included Z Special Unit, which carried out a successful attack on shipping in Singapore Harbour, known as Operation Jaywick.


Until mid-1944, Force 136’s operations were hampered by the great distances involved; for example, from Ceylon to Malaya and back required a flight of 2,800 miles (4,500 km). Such distances also made it difficult to use small clandestine craft to deliver supplies or personnel by sea (although such craft were used to supply the MPAJA in Perak late in the war). The Royal Navy made few submarines available to Force 136. Eventually, converted B-24 Liberator aircraft were made available to parachute agents and stores.

In Burma, where the distances involved were not so great, C-47 transport aircraft could be used. Westland Lysander liaison aircraft could also be used over shorter distances.


1. Bayly and Harper, p.262

2. Bayly and Harper, p.453

3. Bayly and Harper, p.348

4. a b Le Journal du Monde news, Patricia Lemonière, 2009

5. Silent Partners: SOE’s French Indo-China Section, 1943–1945, MARTIN THOMAS, Modern Asian Studies (2000), 34 : 943-976 Cambridge University Press




February 25, 2011 on 2:52 am | In Art, Film, History, Japan, Literary | Comments Off on SOME JAPANALIA BASED ON AKIRA KUROSAWA’S 1944 MOVIE “THE MOST BEAUTIFUL”



Some Japanalia Mentioned or Implied in Akira Kurosawa’s

1944 movie, “The Most Beautiful.”

Hakozaki-guu Hakozaki Temple

Hakozaki-gu Temple is located in Higashi-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture and is one of Japan’s three great Hachimangu temples. It also has one of Japan’s three great ‘romon’ two-storey gates. In addition, the temple is a ‘Shikinai-sha’ (a temple listed in the Engishiki–a list of all temples in the nation which received offerings from the government).

Its status as a temple was Myoujin-taisha (or Myoujindai–a temple which enshrines major and remarkable gods).

The enshrined deities at Hakozaki-gu are Emperor Ojin (the main deity at the temple, the 15th imperial ruler of Japan and the guardian of warriors), Empress Consort Jingu of Japan (empress consort and mother of Ojin), and Tamayori-hime-no-mikoto (mother of Emperor Jimmu).

Hakozaki-gu was first established in 921 during the Heian period, under the authorization of Emperor Daigo. A magnificent temple was built here and, in 923, was transferred from the Chikuzendaibu-gu.

In the mid-Kamakura period, when the Mongols tried to invade Japan and came close to Hakozaki-gu, a ‘divine wind’, or ‘kamikaze’, rose up to repel them. As a result, the deities at Hakozaki-gu were worshipped as gods of charm against misfortune, as well as for success, overseas transport and communication and protection overseas.

Hakozaki-gu is a cherished and highly regarded temple, and fills the four seasons with captivating, enjoyable festivals, such as Tamatori Sai and Hojoya Taisai.


This shrine is one of the famous historical shrines in Japan.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJOIMRV-eg8Related videos

Bishamonten is known as a guardian deity of the world and the god of treasure.

Ebisu, the deity of commerce
It is worshipped as a god of business and prosperity.

Fukurokuju, the god of wealth and longevity

It has been worshipped as a god of wealth for a long time.

Benzaiten, the goddess of fortune

Daikokuten, the god of wealth

Jurojin, the god of longevity

“Ghenko-no-Uta” (“Song of the Mongol Invasion “)

The Mongol invasions of Japan (Genkō) of 1274 and 1281 were major military efforts undertaken by Kublai Khan to conquer the Japanese islands after the submission of Goryeo (Korea) to vassaldom. Despite their ultimate failure, the invasion attempts are of macrohistorical importance, because they set a limit on Mongol expansion, and rank as nation-defining events in Japanese history. The Japanese were successful, in part because the Mongols lost up to 75% of their troops and supplies both times on the ocean as a result of major storms. The invasions are referred to in many works of fiction, and are the earliest events for which the word kamikaze, or “divine wind”, is widely used. With the exception of the occupation of Japan at the end of World War II, these failed invasion attempts are the closest Japan has come to being conquered by foreign power in the last 1500 years.

Starting in 1275, the Kamakura shogunate (Bakufu) made increased efforts to defend against the second invasion, which they thought was sure to come. In addition to better organizing the samurai of Kyūshū, they ordered the construction of forts and a large stone wall (Sekirui), and other defensive structures at many potential landing points, including Hakata Bay, where a two meter high wall was constructed in 1276. Religious services increased and the Hakōzaki shrine, having been destroyed by the Yuan forces, was rebuilt. A coastal watch was instituted and rewards were given to some 120 valiant samurai. There was even a plan for a raid on Korea to be carried out by Shōni Tsunesuke, a general from Kyūshū, though this was never executed.

After the failed invasion, Kublai Khan was tired of being ignored and not being allowed to land, so five Yuan emissaries were dispatched in September 1275 and sent to Kyūshū, refusing to leave without a reply. Tokimune responded by having them sent to Kamakura and then beheading them.[7] The graves of those 5 executed Yuan emissaries exist to this day in Kamakura at Tatsunokuchi.[2] Then again on July 29, 1279, 5 more Yuan emissaries were sent in the same manner, and again beheaded, this time in Hakata. Expecting another invasion, on Feb 21, 1280, the Imperial Court ordered all temples and shrines to pray for victory over the Yuan.

The Battle of Yamazaki, also called the Battle of Mount Tennō is the well-known conflict that follows the Incident of Honnōji. As the Oda officers were spread across the land during Nobunaga‘s assassination, few could reach their lord to assist. Hideyoshi, who was ordered to suppress the Mōri, quickly dealt with his opposition through peace negotiations. With his new allies, he raced back to Kyoto and targeted the man responsible for Nobunaga’s death, Mitsuhide. The battle served as Hideyoshi’s first step for power.

The Battle of Yamazaki

Date July 2, 1582

Location Along the bounders of Settsu and Yamashiro Province (north of modern day Ōsaka prefecture and south of modern day Kyoto prefecture).

Result Hashiba victory; Mitsuhide commits suicide.


Hachiman (, Hachiman-jin / Yawata no kami) is a Japanese syncretic god incorporating elements from both Shinto and Buddhism.[1] Although often called the god of war, he is more correctly defined as the tutelary god of warriors.[1][2] He is also divine protector of Japan and the Japanese people. The name means God of Eight Banners, referring to the eight heavenly banners that signaled the birth of the divine Emperor Ōjin. His symbolic animal and messenger is the dove.

Since ancient times Hachiman was worshiped by peasants as the god of agriculture and by fishermen who hoped he would fill their nets with much fish. In the Shinto religion, he became identified by legend as the Emperor Ōjin, son of Empress Consort Jingū, from the 3rd – 4th century AD.


After the arrival of Buddhism in Japan, Hachiman became a syncretistic deity, fusing elements of the native kami worship with Buddhism (shinbutsu shūgō). In the Buddhist pantheon in 8th century AD, he became Hachiman Great Bodhisattva (Hachiman Daibosatsu).[3]

Samurai worship

Because as Emperor Ōjin he was an ancestor of the Minamoto clan, Hachiman became the tutelary kami (, ujigami?) of the Minamoto samurai clan.[2] Minamoto no Yoshiie, upon coming of age at Iwashimizu Shrine in Kyoto, took the name Hachiman Taro Yoshiie and through his military prowess and virtue as a leader, became regarded and respected as the ideal samurai through the ages. After Minamoto no Yoritomo became shogun and established the Kamakura shogunate, Hachiman’s popularity grew and he became by extension the protector of the warrior class the shogun had brought to power. For this reason, the shintai of a Hachiman shrine is usually a stirrup or a bow.[4]

Throughout the Japanese medieval period, the worship of Hachiman spread throughout Japan among not only samurai, but also the peasantry. So much so was his popularity that presently there are 25000 Shinto shrines in Japan dedicated to Hachiman, the second most numerous after shrines dedicated to Inari. Usa Shrine in Usa, Oita prefecture is head shrine of all of these shrines and together with Iwashimizu Hachiman-gū, Hakozaki-gū and Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū, are noted as the most important of all the shrines dedicated to him.

The crest of Hachiman is in the design of a mitsudomoe, a round whirlpool or vortex with three heads swirling right or left. Many samurai clans used this crest as their own, ironically including some that traced their ancestry back to the mortal enemy of the Minamoto, the Taira of the Emperor Kammu line (Kammu Heishi).


1. a b Scheid, Bernhard. “Hachiman Shreine” (in German). University of Vienna. http://www.univie.ac.at/rel_jap/bauten/bekannteschreine.htm. Retrieved 17 August 2010.

2. a b Motegi, Sadazumi. “Shamei Bunpu (Shrine Names and Distributions)” (in Japanese). Encyclopedia of Shinto. http://eos.kokugakuin.ac.jp/modules/xwords/entry.php?entryID=776. Retrieved 23 March 2010.

3. Bender, Ross (1979). “The Hachiman Cult and the Dōkyō Incident”. Monumenta Nipponica 34 (2): 125–53. doi:10.2307/2384320. http://jstor.org/stable/2384320.

4. Ashkenazy, Michael (November 5, 2003). Handbook of Japanese Mythology (World Mythology) (Hardcover). ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1576074671.

Further reading


Tanuki is the common Japanese name for the Japanese raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides viverrinus). They have been part of Japanese folklore since ancient times. The legendary tanuki is reputed to be mischievous and jolly, a master of disguise and shapeshifting, but somewhat gullible and absent-minded.

Tanuki is often somewhat mistakenly translated as raccoon or badger into English, animals which are similar to tanuki in appearance, but actually belong to different Carnivora families.

Some Japanalia Mentioned or Implied in Akira Kurosawa’s

1944 movie, “The Most Beautiful.”



February 23, 2011 on 5:10 am | In Art, Books, Film, History, Literary, World-System | Comments Off on WAS DUTCH COLONIALISM IN INDONESIA PROFITABLE?: THE 1860 NOVEL “MAX HAVELAAR” AND THE FONS RADEMAKERS MOVIE FROM 1976


Max Havelaar is a 1976 Dutch film directed by Fons Rademakers, based on the 1860 novel Max Havelaar by Multatuli.

Max Havelaar (1976)

Max Havelaar of de koffieveilingen der

Nederlandsche handelsmaatschappij

(original title)

An idealistic Dutch colonial officer posted to Indonesia in the 19th century is convinced that he can make the kinds of changes that will actually help the local people he is in charge of, but circumstances soon make him realize just how out of touch he really is, and it doesn’t take long for things to go from bad to worse.

The movie opens with this quote from King William III of the Netherlands:

When We scrutinize, with gratitude,

The highly satisfactory condition of the country’s finances

And we recognize that Our present wealth derives

From the fruits yielded up by Our property in the East Indies

Then We do not hold lightly,

Our calling to further the well-being and development of these Our

colonial possessions

The sacrifice demanded of Us to succour these lands

And to maintain Our authority over them

We will not make grudgingly.

William III, King of the Netherlands

William III (19 February 1817 – 23 November 1890) was from 1849 King of the Netherlands

Max Havelaar

Max Havelaar:

Or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company

Eduard Douwes Dekker (2 March 182019 February 1887), better known by his pen name Multatuli, was a Dutch writer famous for his satirical novel, Max Havelaar (1860) in which he denounced the abuses of colonialism in the colony of the Dutch East Indies (today’s Indonesia).

In 1860, he published his novel Max Havelaar under the pseudonym of Multatuli. Dekker’s new pseudonym, which is derived from Latin, means, “I have suffered much”, or, more literally “I have borne much” referring to himself, as well as, it is thought, to the victims of the injustices he saw. An attempt was made to ignore this irregular (for the 1860s) book, but in vain; it was read all over Europe.

Dekker was born in Amsterdam. His father, a ship’s captain, intended his son for trade, but this humdrum prospect disgusted him, and in 1838 he went out to Java and obtained a post as a civil servant. He moved from one posting to another, until, in 1851, he became assistant-resident at Ambon, in the Moluccas. In 1857 he was transferred to Lebak, in the Bantam residency of Java. By this time, however, all the secrets of Dutch administration were known to him, and he had begun to openly protest about the abuses of the colonial system. Consequently he was threatened with dismissal from his office for his openness of speech. Dekker resigned his appointment and returned to the Netherlands in a state of fierce indignation.

Max Havelaar: Or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company (Dutch: Max Havelaar, of de koffij-veilingen der Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij) is a culturally and socially significant 1860 novel by Multatuli (the pen name of Eduard Douwes Dekker) which was to play a key role in shaping and modifying ) about Dutch colonial policy in the Dutch East Indies in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. In the novel, the protagonist, Max Havelaar, tries to battle against a corrupt government system in Java, which was a Dutch colony at the time.

The colonial control of Indonesia had passed from the Dutch East India Company (VOC) to the Dutch government due to the economic failure of the VOC. In order to increase revenue, the Dutch colonial government implemented a series of policies termed the Cultivation System (Dutch: cultuurstelsel), which mandated Indonesian farmers to grow a quota of commercially tradable crops such as tea and coffee, instead of growing staple foods such as rice. At the same time, the colonial government also implemented a tax collection system in which the collecting agents were paid by commission. The combination of these two strategies caused widespread abuse of colonial power, especially on the islands of Java and Sumatra, resulting in abject poverty and widespread starvation among the farmers.

Multatuli wrote Max Havelaar in protest against these colonial policies. Despite its terse writing style, it raised the awareness of Europeans living in Europe at the time that the wealth that they enjoyed was the result of suffering in other parts of the world. This awareness eventually formed the motivation for the new Ethical Policy by which the Dutch colonial government attempted to “repay” their debt to their colonial subjects by providing education to some classes of natives, generally members of the elite loyal to the colonial government.

Indonesian novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer argued that by triggering these educational reforms, Max Havelaar was in turn responsible for the nationalist movement that ended Dutch colonialism in Indonesia after 1945, and which was instrumental in the call for decolonisation in Africa and elsewhere in the world. Thus, according to Pramoedya, Max Havelaar is “the book that killed colonialism”.[1]

In the last chapter the author announces that he will translate the book “into the few languages I know, and into the many languages I can learn.” In fact, Max Havelaar has been translated into thirty-four languages. It was first translated into English in 1868. In Indonesia, the novel was cited as an inspiration by Sukarno and other early nationalist leaders, such as the author’s Indo (Eurasian) descendant Ernest Douwes Dekker, who had read it in its original Dutch. It was not translated into Indonesian until 1972.[2]

In the novel, the story of Max Havelaar, a Dutch colonial administrator, is told by two diametrically opposed characters: the hypocritical coffee merchant Droogstoppel, who intends to use Havelaar’s manuscripts to write about the coffee trade, and the romantic German apprentice Stern, who takes over when Droogstoppel loses interest in the story. The opening chapter of the book nicely sets the tone of the satirical nature of what is to follow, with Droogstoppel articulating his pompous and mercenary world-view at length. At the very end of the novel Multatuli himself takes the pen and the book culminates in a vocal denouncement of Dutch colonial policies and a plea to the then-king of the Netherlands to intervene on behalf of his Indonesian subjects.

The novel was filmed in 1976 by Fons Rademakers, as part of a Dutch-Indonesian partnership. The film was not allowed to be shown in Indonesia until 1987.


  1. Pramoedya Ananta Toer (1999). “The book that killed colonialism”. The New York Times Magazine. April 18: 112-114.
  2. Feenberg, Anne-Marie (1997). “Max Havelaar: an anti-imperialist novel”. MLN 112(5):817-835.

Pramoedya Ananta Toer [1] (February 6, 1925April 30, 2006) was an Indonesian author of novels, short stories, essays, polemics, and histories of his homeland and its people. A well-regarded writer in the West, Pramoedya’s outspoken and often politically charged writings faced censorship in his native land during the pre-reformation era. For opposing the policies of both founding president Sukarno, as well as those of its successor, the New Order regime of Suharto, he faced extrajudicial punishment. During the many years in which he suffered imprisonment and house arrest, he became a cause célèbre for advocates of freedom of expression and human rights.

“The Buru Quartet” is his anticolonial masterpiece

The Buru Quartet

  1. Bumi Manusia (This Earth of Mankind) (1980)
  2. Anak Semua Bangsa (Child of All Nations) (1980)
  3. Jejak Langkah (Footsteps) (1985)
  4. Rumah Kaca (House of Glass) (1988)

The movie Max Havelaar opens with this quote from King William III of the Netherlands:

When We scrutinize, with gratitude,

The highly satisfactory condition of the country’s finances

And we recognize that Our present wealth derives

From the fruits yielded up by Our property in the East Indies

Then We do not hold lightly,

Our calling to further the well-being and development of these Our

colonial possessions

The sacrifice demanded of Us to succour these lands

And to maintain Our authority over them

We will not make grudgingly.

Max Havelaar is a 1976 Dutch film directed by Fons Rademakers, based on the 1860 novel Max Havelaar by Multatuli.



February 21, 2011 on 10:06 pm | In Art, Film, History, Literary | Comments Off on HISTORY IN SONGS: THE MOVIE “CASABLANCA” AND THE SONGS “J’ATTENDRAI” AND “PARLEZ-MOI D’AMOUR”


Soundtrack for

  • · “La Marseillaise”
    (1792) (uncredited)
    Written by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
    Arranged by Max Steiner
    Played during the opening credits
    Sung by Madeleine Lebeau and others at Rick’s
    Variations played often in the score

  • ·It Had to Be You”
    (1924) (uncredited)
    Music by Isham Jones
    Lyrics by Gus Kahn
    Played during the opening shot of Rick’s Café
    Performed by Dooley Wilson (piano dubbed by Elliot Carpenter)
    Also played when Laszlo and Ilsa return to Rick’s

  • · “Shine”
    (1910) (uncredited)
    Music by Ford Dabney
    Lyrics by Lew Brown and Cecil Mack
    Performed by Dooley Wilson during the opening scene at Rick’s (piano dubbed by Elliot Carpenter)

  • · “Crazy Rhythm”
    (1928) (uncredited)
    Music by Joseph Meyer and Roger Wolfe Kahn
    Played when Rick turns the man away and then talks to Ugarte
    (originally from the 1928 Broadway musical “Here’s Howe!”)

  • ·Knock on Wood”
    (1942) (uncredited)
    Music by M.K. Jerome
    Lyrics by Jack Scholl
    Performed by Dooley Wilson and band (piano dubbed by Elliot Carpenter)

  • · “The Very Thought of You”
    (1934) (uncredited)
    Music by Ray Noble
    Played when Ferrari offers to buy Rick’s and when Rick sends Yvonne home
    Also played when Sascha kisses Rick after Rick’s good deed

  • · “Baby Face”
    (1926) (uncredited)
    Music by Harry Akst
    Performed by Dooley Wilson when Renault tells Rick that there’s going to be an arrest (piano dubbed by Elliot Carpenter)

  • · “I’m Just Wild About Harry”
    Music by Eubie Blake
    Played when Renault goes downstairs and joins Major Strasser’s party

  • ·Heaven Can Wait”
    Music by Jimmy Van Heusen
    Played when Rick is introduced to Major Strasser

  • ·Speak to Me of Love”
    Music by Jean Lenoir (song “Parlez-moi d’amour”)
    Played when Laszlo and Ilsa first enter Rick’s

  • ·Love for Sale”
    Music by Cole Porter
    Played when Renault joins Laszlo and Ilsa at their table

  • ·Tango Delle Rose”
    (1928) (uncredited)
    aka “The Song of the Rose”
    Written by Filippo Schreier and Aldo Bottero
    Performed by Corinna Mura (vocal and guitar)

  • ·Avalon”
    (1920) (uncredited)
    Music by Vincent Rose
    Performed by Dooley Wilson while talking to Ilsa (piano dubbed by Elliot Carpenter)

  • · “As Time Goes By”
    (1931) (uncredited)
    Written by Herman Hupfeld
    Performed by Dooley Wilson (piano dubbed by Elliot Carpenter)
    Variations played often in the score
    (originally from the 1932 Broadway show “Everybody’s Welcome”)

  • · “Piano Improvisation”
    Music by Frank Perkins
    Performed by Dooley Wilson after trying to talk Rick into leaving (piano dubbed by Elliot Carpenter)

  • ·Perfidia
    (1939) (uncredited)
    Music by Alberto Domínguez
    Played when Rick and Ilsa are dancing at the Paris nightclub

  • · “If I Could Be with You”
    (1926) (uncredited)
    Music by James P. Johnson
    Played when the man gets his pocket picked and the Germans enter Rick’s

  • ·You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby”
    (1938) (uncredited)
    Music by Harry Warren
    Played when Yvonne walks into Rick’s with the German officer

  • · “Die Wacht am Rhein”
    (1854) (uncredited)
    Music by Karl Wilhelm (1854)
    Lyrics by Max Schneckenburger (1840) (from his poem)
    Arranged by Max Steiner
    Sung by the Germans at Rick’s

  • · “Das Lied der Deutschen”
    (1841) (uncredited)
    aka “Deutschland über Alles”
    Music by Joseph Haydn (1797)
    Arranged by Max Steiner
    Played before and after Major Strasser orders Renault to shut down Rick’s


“Speak to me of love” also appears in the 1990 movie, “Henry and June.”

  • ·Speak to Me of Love”
    Music by Jean Lenoir (song “Parlez-moi d’amour”)
    Played when Laszlo and Ilsa first enter Rick’s

The song “J’attendrai”, not listed above, also appears in “Casablanca” as a Paris memory, in the flashbacks.

J’attendrai Song

“J’attendrai” (French for “I Will Wait”[1]) is a French popular song recorded by Rina Ketty in 1938. It is a translation of the Italian song “Tornerai” (Italian for “You Will Return”[2]) composed by Dino Olivieri[3] (music) and Nino Rastelli (lyrics) in 1933; the French lyrics were written by Louis Potérat.[4] The song was also recorded in German under the title “Komm zurück”, in Czech as “Věřím vám” and in Polish as “Czekam cię” (with lyrics translated by Andrzej Włast).

Achieving great popularity in its day, the song has since come to be seen as emblematic of the start of World War II.

Other recordings

Mieczysław Fogg

Polish cover of this song, titled “Czekam cię”, with lyrics by Andrzej Włast, was recorded twice by Mieczysław Fogg – first recording was made in 1939 and released by Syrena Rekord under catalog number 2294[5]. Second rendition of this song was recorded about 1961 as a part of medley, and was issued on several LPs[6][7][8].
A more recent popular version was recorded by Dalida for her 1975 album J’attendrai. The following year, she covered the song again for her disco album Coup de chapeau au passé: that version reached the Dutch charts on February 21, 1976. It spent 4 weeks on the charts and as # 9 in 1 week.[9]

Antonella Ruggiero

A recent version of this song was recorded by Italian singer Antonella Ruggiero on the album Souvenir d’Italie, published in 2007 , and is currently available on iTunes.

Vicky Leandros

In 2010 Greek singer Vicky Leandros recorded this song in a new German version titled ” Wenn Du Gehst ” ( When you leave ) which is included in her album “Zeitlos” ( Timeless )

Other artists and usage in popular culture

The Rina Ketty recording appears in the German movie Das Boot or The Boat by Wolfgang Petersen starring Jürgen Prochnow. The commander plays it over the intercom shortly after leaving port.

The intro of J’attendrai is also heard in a sleeping quarters of the underground barracks of Fort Eben-Emael. The room shows visitors what sleeping quarters of regular soldiers looked like in 1940, when Belgium was attacked by Nazi-Germany.

J’attendrai is the main song in the Arch of Triumph, a 1985 film starring Anthony Hopkins and Lesley-Anne Down

J’attendrai has also been recorded by the legendary jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, and by Tino Rossi. The song called J’attendrai by Claude François is a French version of Reach out I’ll be there.

A recording of J’attendrai by Jean Sablon features in the 2006 motion picture A Good Year. The Rina Ketty recording was used at the beginning of the 2007 documentary My Enemy’s Enemy, about the life and trial of Klaus Barbie.

The Vanessa Redgrave character, the Jewish songstress, sings it in “Playing for Time” where it also signals the winds of war leading directly to WW II.


1. LEO Dict: declination table of attendre

2. LEO Dict: declination table of tornare

3. IMDB: Dino Olivieri

4. Rina Ketty: profile

5. Tomasz Lerski (2004). Syrena Record – pierwsza polska wytwórnia fonograficzna – Poland’s first recording company – 1904-1939. New York, Warszawa: Karin. Label of company from 1920 to 1929 ISBN 978-83-917189-0-2.

6. L0351 by Polskie Nagrania “Muza”

7. XL0272 by Polskie Nagrania “Muza”

8. PNCD0662 by Polskie Nagrania “Muza”

9. dutchcharts.nl – Dalida – J’attendrai




February 11, 2011 on 11:37 pm | In Art, Film, Germany, Globalization, History, World-System | Comments Off on BRAZILIAN COFFEE DESTRUCTION AS A SYMBOL OF OPPRESSIVE GLOBALIZATION: THE 1932 WEIMAR MOVIE CLASSIC “KUHLE WAMPE”


Kuhle Wampe, or Who Owns the World?

“As the train starts moving, an older gentleman reads aloud a headline from the newspaper.

He informs the other passengers that Brazil burns 24 million pounds of coffee. Other passengers on the commuter train discuss the issue of destroyed coffee. Anni briefly adds to the conversation stating that it’s malice for the Brazilians to burn their excess coffee. A young adult comments that no one on the train is going to change the world referring to the middle-aged and elderly passengers. A middle-aged passenger asks who will change the world. Gerda replies people that are not satisfied. The film concludes with the young adults walking out of the train station while the group’s motto is sung in the background.

It’s reported that Bertolt Brecht directed this final “coffee debate” scene, which resembles a more sophisticated version of an agitprop play. The cutting style becomes very theatrical as the various speakers on the commuter train car reveal their political identities — conservative proto-fascist, clueless bourgeois, etc. Brecht peppers the talk with jokes and amusing character detail, while his main issue comes through strong: the existing capitalist system works for profits, not the good of humanity.”

The “coffee debate” is a symbol or microcosm of the world economy gripping the world ie globalization. The newspaper stories about worldwide unemployment levels is also a part of this “Weltwirtschaft” (world-economy) consciousness rising in the mind of average people.

Kuhle Wampe, or Who Owns the World?, the 1932 echt Weimar early talkie directed by Slatan Dudow from a script co-written by Bertolt Brecht, is a great Weimar classic of left politics.

The movie begins with a title card one unemployed worker less. After the title card footage is shown of: the Brandenburg Gate, a smokestack, a few factories along a river way, a locomotive and buildings. The footage transitions to various newspaper headings that describe the current worldwide situation in addition to the unemployment in Germany. In the next scene, there is a group of young adults, mostly men, riding their bicycles or walking toward a community message board that is on the sidewalk. Upon the arrival of a delivery boy, the people are rushing him to grab the classified ads. There are more people than available classified ads and the delivery boy turned people away.

Those that were fortunate to receive a classified ad look over the paper and start bicycling together to a job site. Upon their arrival at a job site they are turned away by a sign that reads, workers will not be hired. They continue riding in unison to another job location. They are shown riding into the entrance way one moment and the next moment riding out of the place. The men continue their journey to a third location. They momentarily enter the place on their bicycles, but quickly leave walking alongside their bicycle. As they are walking out of the job site, one of the men crumples the classified ad and tosses it onto the street. One of the men departs the group as he approaches a building. Another man briefly stops to hear a duo playing on the street and continues walking.

The following scene shows a middle-aged man lying on the sofa reading a newspaper. He sits up from the sofa and tells his wife that he can no longer financially support his son. The wife does not reply prompting the man to rhetorically ask does she care about anything. The scene shifts to a young man entering the residence. It is the man that entered the building from the street. He enters the dinning room sitting next to his father looking dejected. The father and son do not speak to each other as the mother brings a pot to the table. As the mother is serving the food from the pot, a young lady enters the dinning room. Anni, the daughter, greets the family stating the social services office is assisting a neighbor with their rent. The father and son do not speak, but the mother comments that they are unable to receive financial assistance. The father and mother criticize their son for not finding employment. Anni interjects telling her parents that there are no jobs. The father replies that seven months unemployed is no excuse and believes that his son is lazy. Anni mentions that her brother is not lazy since he has been looking for work. She calls her father lazy. The father gets mad saying she sits around the welfare office looking for a handout and leaves the dinner table.

Upon the father’s departure, the mealtime concludes since the mother collects the leftover food. The mother mentions that everyday is the same argument. As the mother clears the dinner table, Anni and her brother remain at the table. Anni smiles at her brother trying to cheer him up. She notices her brother does not respond and is concerned. In the following scene, the brother remains dejected sitting at the dinner table as Anni is nearby putting on lipstick in front of the mirror. She calls out from the window to her friend on the street that she is coming. As Anni leaves the room, the brother gets out of the chair. He walks toward the window and takes off his wristwatch placing it on the table. As he jumps out the window a scream is heard.

On the sidewalk people are standing around a body that is covered with a sheet. In the staircase two women are discussing that the person placed the wristwatch on the table before jumping. One lady says that the wristwatch would have been destroyed had the person wore it while jumping to their death. In another scene a lady states that the death is one unemployed worker less. A group of women say the person that jumped was a young fine man and that his father is unaware of the son’s suicide. The father is shown in a tavern speaking with another man that the unemployment in the United States is similar to Germany’s situation. The scene returns to the staircase where an elderly lady says that the boy had many years ahead of him. The camera shifts to the street where an ambulance is driving away with the body. A title card appears The best years of a young man.

The film shifts to footage of: a lake, grasslands and woodlands. Subsequently a magistrate appears on camera reading that the family must vacate the building for non-payment. In the following scene, Anni visits various social service offices seeking assistance. Turned away for financial assistance, she calls Fritz at work from a public telephone. Anni informs Fritz of her family’s situation. Fritz encourages Anni and her family to stay with him at Kuhle Wampe. In the following scene Fritz and Anni are driving in an automobile with furniture in the backseat. As they are driving down the street, a narrator explains that Kuhle Wampe is a tent city that is an hour outside of Berlin. Fritz, Anni and her family are seen bringing the furniture from the automobile and setting it down in an open space at Kuhle Wampe. As they are doing this, the camera shows that Kuhle Wampe is thriving since people are either playing chess, cards or cooking. Next, Fritz is shown hammering down the stacks to Anni and her family’s tent.

After Anni settles into the tent, she and Fritz go for a walk into the woodlands. The film shows footage of the grasslands and woodlands as a romantic song on intimacy is played. As the song concludes, Anni’s parents are sitting inside of their tent. The father is reading aloud a story from the newspaper, whereas the mother is writing an invoice of grocery expenses. In between the father reading and the mother writing is sporadic photos of food products and its price. In the next scene, Anni is working at a factory. Anni’s co-worker senses that she is not well and Anni admits something is bothering her. Subsequently, Fritz’s co-worker encourages him to marriage since alimony and taxes are the same amount in payment. Fritz replies that he wants his freedom.

Anni and Fritz are leaving the tent and walk past children. Anni starts to visualize images of children, healthcare clinics and caskets. After Anni’s visual sequence, she sees Fritz off to the streetcar. In the city, Fritz meets his friend outside of the theater. His friend asks Fritz about marrying Anni. Fritz replies that he wishes not to marry Anni. Next, Fritz is talking with an older gentleman over a cigarette about the situation with Anni. In this scene, Fritz mentions he has no other choice but to marry Anni. The older gentleman agrees to assist with the engagement party. At the engagement party, Anni and her mother are serving the guest food and beverages. Fritz is shuttling to and from the engagement party. He leaves with an empty case of beer bottles and returns with a full case of beer bottles. When Anni offers assistance to Fritz he rejects her offer. When she encourages him to take a break and mingle with the guest, Fritz declines. Anni asks Fritz why he put on an engagement party and he replied there was no choice. Upon hearing this, Anni walks away from Fritz. Inside the engagement party, the guests are joyous over beer and music.

As some of the guest at the engagement party are leaving drunk, Anni and her friend, Gerda, pack some belongings onto a cart. They inform a guest at the party of their departure from tent city. Annis parents tell Fritz they will stay, although their daughter plans to move away. In the following scene, Anni is at Gerda’s apartment. The friend suggests Anni should accompany her to the athletic competition in the following week to forget about Fritz. The following scene shows footage of industrial machinery and smokestacks. The footage fades out and there is a scene of young adults assembled inside a room. A banner inside the room describes that this is group of people participating in the athletic competition that Gerda mentioned. The camera shows various people helping out. A man is calling out peoples names to pass out fliers. Other people are making copies on a mimeograph. Some people are working on banners. Inside this room, a man asks Gerda where is Anni. She informs the individual that Anni is around and can speak with her on the day of the athletic competition.

The next scene shows a group of men riding on motorcycles. As the people depart on the motorcycles, another group starts marching and signing their group motto. In a subsequent scene, Anni is seen marching at the front of the group. Next, there is footage of: n motorcycle race, a rowing contest and a diving competition. During the footage of these athletic events, a song is played on togetherness and unity. Also, the song describes sacrifice to participate in athletic competition. The song concludes by showing the spectators cheering on the participants. During the celebratory moment a band interrupts singing they are the red megaphone. After the group briefly sings they put on a skit. The group impersonates a landlord throwing out a delinquent renter. As the skit is occurring, Anni is seen being attentive to the play. After the skit concludes, the group gets a loud ovation from the audience.

The motto that was sung as the group was walking down the street is heard again. As the motto is sung, the camera goes through the audience at the athletic competition. After the motto concluded, the participants and audience start to leave the area. Three people are sitting together as someone in the group is reading an excerpt from Hegel. Anni is sitting next to a guy friend. Next, some people are rowing away from the competition location. Others are riding away on their motorcycles and some people on bicycles. As people are departing the competition location, the group motto is heard in the background.

Next, the people are walking into the train terminal and entering a commuter train. On the train, Anni is smiling as she sees Gerda chatting with a guy.

As the train starts moving, an older gentleman reads aloud a headline from the newspaper.

He informs the other passengers that Brazil burns 24 million pounds of coffee. Other passengers on the train discuss the issue of destroyed coffee. Anni briefly adds to the conversation stating that it’s malice for the Brazilians to burn their excess coffee. A young adult comments that no one on the train is going to change the world referring to the middle-aged and elderly passengers. A middle-aged passenger asks who will change the world. Gerda replies people that are not satisfied. The film concludes with the young adults walking out of the train station while the group’s motto is sung in the background.

It’s reported that Bertolt Brecht directed this final “coffee debate” scene, which resembles a more sophisticated version of an agitprop play. The cutting style becomes very theatrical as the various speakers on the commuter train car reveal their political identities — conservative proto-fascist, clueless bourgeois, etc. Brecht peppers the talk with jokes and amusing character detail, while his main issue comes through strong: the existing capitalist system works for profits, not the good of humanity.

The “coffee debate” is a symbol or microcosm of the world economy gripping the world ie globalization. The newspaper stories about worldwide unemployment levels is also a part of this “Weltwirtschaft” (world-economy) consciousness rising in the mind of average people.

Kuhle Wampe, or Who Owns the World?

DEFA / Omnimago

1932 / B&W  1:33 anamorphic widescreen  69 min.

Kuhle Wampe oder: Wem gehórt die Welt?

Starring Hertha Thiele, Ernst Busch, Martha Wolter, Adolf Fischer.

Cinematography Günther Krampf

Set Design Robert Scharfenberg, Carl Haacker

Film Editor Peter Meyrowitz

Original Music Hanns Eisler, Bertolt Brecht (Lyrics)

Written by Bertolt Brecht, Ernst Ottwalt

Produced by Willi Münzenberg; Lazar Wechsler

Directed by Slatan Dudow

Kuhle Wampe, or Who Owns the World?



February 9, 2011 on 12:45 am | In Film, Germany, History, Literary | Comments Off on PERSIL DETERGENT AND THE “PERSILSCHEIN” AFTER WWII: CONNECTION TO THE WEIMAR FILM “BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ” OF 1931


The 1931 German movie, “Berlin, Alexanderplatz” gives an unintended glimpse into German commercial life of the time: the buses have ad banners and signs for such products as Chlorodont dentifrice, Juno cigarettes (“Berlin Smokes Juno Cigarettes”/”Berlin Raucht Juno”), and Persil (from persilicate) detergent.

Tragically, after 1945, there was a made scramble for a so-called Persilschein (Persil ticket or seal of approval), as the following case illustrates:

J. Hans D. Jensen and the post-war German need for a Persilschein (whitewash certificate)

Persilschein a play on words using the name of the German detergent Persil.

Johannes Hans Daniel Jensen (25 June 1907 in Hamburg – 11 February 1973 in Heidelberg) was a German nuclear physicist. During World War II, he worked on the German nuclear energy project, known as the Uranium Club, in which he made contributions to the separation of uranium isotopes. After the war Jensen was a professor at the University of Heidelberg. He was a visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the Institute for Advanced Study, Indiana University, and the California Institute of Technology.

Jensen shared half of the 1963 Nobel Prize for Physics with Maria Göppert-Mayer for their proposal of the nuclear shell model.

Adolf Hitler took power on 30 January 1933. On 7 April of that year the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service was enacted; this law, and its subsequent related ordinances, politicized the education system in Germany. Other factors enforcing the politicization of education were Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP, National Socialist German Workers Party) organizations in academia and the rise of the Deutsche Physik movement, which was anti-Semitic and had a bias against theoretical physics, especially including quantum mechanics. The Party organizations were the Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund (NSDStB, National Socialist German Student League) founded in 1926, the Nationalsozialistischer Lehrerbund (NSLB, National Socialist Teachers League) founded in 1927, and the Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Dozentenbund (NSDDB, National Socialist German University Lecturers League) founded in 1933. While membership in the NSDDB was not mandatory, it was tactically advantageous, if not unavoidable, as the district leaders had a decisive role in the acceptance of an Habilitationsschrift, which was a prerequisite to attaining the rank of Privatdozent necessary to becoming a university lecturer.[5][6][7][8]

While all German universities were politicized, not all were as strict in carrying out this end as was the University of Hamburg, where Jensen received his doctorate and Habilitationsschrift. Upon his 1936 habilitation he had been a member of NSDDB for three years, the NSLB for two years, and a candidate for membership in NSDAP, which he received the next year. The university leader of NSLB had made it clear that active participation was expected from Jensen, and that is what they got.[9][10]

After World War II the denazification process began. When Jensen faced the proceedings, he turned to Werner Heisenberg, a prominent member of the Uranverein, for a testament to his character – a document known as a Persilschein (whitewash certificate).[11]

Heisenberg was a particularly powerful writer of these documents, as he had never been a member of NSDAP, he had publicly clashed with NSDAP and the Schutzstaffel (SS), and he had been appointed by the British occupation authorities to the chair for theoretical physics and the directorship of the Max-Planck Institut für Physik then in Göttingen. Heisenberg wrote the document and convinced the authorities that Jensen had only joined the Party organizations to avoid unnecessary difficulties in academia.[12]

1. a b c d Johannes Jensen – Nobel Prize Biography (1963)

2. a b c Hentschel and Hentschel, 1996, 363-364 and Appendix F; see the entry for Johannes Jensen

3. Hentschel and Hentschel, 1996, 363-364 and Appendix F; see the entries for Harteck and Johannes Jensen.

4. Walker, 1993, pp. 121-122

5. Walker, 1993, pp. 192-204. In these pages, Mark Walker puts into perspective the motivations of and the pressures on students and scientists in the early years of National Socialism in Germany. He addresses the general situation, the Uranverein scientists as a group, and particular cases, e.g., Johannes Jensen, Wilhelm Groth, Karl Wirtz, and Wolfgang Gentner.

6. Hentschel, 1996, Appendix C; see entries for NSDDB, NSDStB, and the NSLB.

7. Hoffmann, Dieter Between Autonomy and Accommodation: The German Physical Society during the Third Reich, Physics in Perspective 7(3) pp. 293-329 (2005)

8. Beyerchen, 1977, pp. 123–167

9. Walker, 1993, pp. 195-196

10. Hentschel and Hentschel, 1996, Appendix F; see the entry for Johannes Jensen.

11. Persilschein a play on words using the name of the German detergent Persil

12. Walker, 1993, pp. 192-204

13. Hentschel and Hentschel, 1996, Appendix E; see the entry for Kernphysikalische Forschungsberichte

14. Walker, 1993, pp. 268-274

Adolf Hitler took power on 30 January 1933, “Berlin Alexanderplatz” the movie is from 1931.

Persilschein is a play on words using the name of the German detergent Persil.

The 2006 movie “The Good German” is explicitly about the Persilschein blackmarket



January 31, 2011 on 12:56 am | In Art, Books, Film, France, Germany, History, Literary, Russia, World-System | Comments Off on HOUSEHOLD TURMOIL AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO HISTORICAL TURMOIL: “COUP DE GRACE” BY MARGUERITE YOURCENAR



Household Turmoil Interacts with Historical Turmoil

Several historically attune movies show or hint at a connection between psychosexual murkiness at the level of the household and societal turmoil such as war and revolution.

The personal and the historical are intertwined by psychology.

This link between the micro-world and the macro-world is adumbrated in these movies:

1. “Murmur of the Heart” (Louis Malle)

2. “Wild reeds” (Andre Techine)

3. “Coup de Grace” (Volker Schloendorff)

The first links provincial France and the looming French defeat in Dien Ben Phu and Vietnam circa 1954 with a hypersexualized situation at the level of one family.

Wild Reeds (French: Les Roseaux sauvages) is a 1994 French drama film directed by André Téchiné, about the sensitive passage in the adulthood and in awakening of sexuality by four youths at the end of the Algerian War. The film is set in south-west France in 1962.

Psychosexual murkiness is part of a “system” connecting the macro-world with the micro-world.

Coup de grâce

Marguerite Yourcenar 1903–1987

Set in the Baltic provinces in the aftermath of World War I, Coup de Grace tells the story of an intimacy that grows between three young people hemmed in by civil war: Erick, a Prussian fighting with the White Russians against the Bolsheviks; Conrad, his best friend from childhood; and Sophie, whose unrequited love for Conrad becomes an unbearable burden.

Biographical Information

Yourcenar was born into two very old, wealthy, and influential families from Belgium and France. Her mother, a native of Brussels, died ten days after giving birth. Consequently, Yourcenar was raised and educated by her father, Michel de Crayencour, a Frenchman, in Mont-Noir, Lille, and Paris. As her teacher, mentor, and sole intellectual companion, Yourcenar’s father encouraged her to study the classics, to begin writing poetry, and to read French, Latin, Greek, and English literature. She wrote her first poems when she was fourteen and her first volume, Le jardin des chimères, was privately published in 1921; she later dismissed this work as possessing only “the virtue of childish simplicity.” For this book, she and her father anagrammatized “Crayencour” to devise the pen name Yourcenar, which she adopted as her legal name in 1947. For most of the 1920s she and her father traveled through Europe enjoying a life devoted to literary, aesthetic, and intellectual pursuits. In 1929, after her father’s death and the loss of much of her inherited fortune in the stock market crash of that year, Yourcenar published her first novel, Alexis (Alexis); this was her first work to be accepted by a commercial publisher and was her only major work that her father read. In the 1930s, she published prolifically in a variety of genres, including a critical volume on the Greek poet Pindar simply entitled Pindare (1932); a unique book of prose, poetry, and aphorisms examining various aspects of love, Feux (1938; Fires); two collections of short fiction, La mort conduit l’attelage (1934) and Nouvelles orientales (1938; Oriental Tales); and a book-length essay on dreams, Les songes et les sorts (1938). She also translated Virginia Woolf’s 1931 novel The Waves into French in 1937 and two years later published her second major novel, Le coup de grâce (1939; Coup de Grâce). Able to support herself with her writing in these years, she traveled widely in Italy, Germany, and Greece; in 1937 she briefly visited the United States, where she lectured at several colleges and studied the life of the Roman emperor Hadrian (A.D. 76-138) at Yale University. Travel restrictions imposed throughout Europe during World War II forced Yourcenar back to the United States, where she worked briefly as a journalist and commercial translator before becoming a part-time instructor at Sarah Lawrence College in 1942. Her literary output was slight until 1948, when trunks containing her collected notes on Hadrian arrived from France. Inspired by these notes, Yourcenar began composing what many critics consider her greatest work, Mémoires d’Hadrien (1951; Memoirs of Hadrian). The 1968 novel L’oeuvre au noir (The Abyss), is widely considered her second masterpiece.

In 1980 she became the first woman elected to the Académie Française in the three-century history of the institution whose members include writers, politicians, scholars, and scientists.

Yourcenar remained an active traveler and writer for the rest of her life, nearly completing the final volume, Quoi? L’éternite (1990), of her autobiographical trilogy known as Le labyrinthe du monde before her death at the age of 84.

Major Works

Although Yourcenar produced important works in a variety of genres, her reputation rests primarily on her novels. Her first attempt in the genre, Alexis, is structured as a récit, a classical form of the French short story designed to recount, ostensibly as an aid to the examination of conscience, a significant deed or event in a concise, rapid narrative. The novel proceeds as a letter written by the title character, a talented musician finally avowing his homosexuality, to his wife, Monique, as an apologia for deserting her and their new baby, and to express his regret at having lived misleadingly with her for so long. Anticipating Memoirs of Hadrian with its epistolary form, the novel also inaugurates many of Yourcenar’s signature themes, namely the artist’s struggle to maintain and express his sensibilities in a hostile environment; male homosexuality; love and pleasure; and the emergence of self-identity and its relation to guilt.

Coup de Grâce, which also uses the first-person récit form, examines the lives of three characters caught in romantic and political turmoil. Set in the late 1920s during the civil wars touched off by the Russian Revolution in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, the novel is “remembered” by Eric von Lhommond, an aristocratic adventurer and romantic mercenary whose purely class-based, nonideological objections to Communism provide his pretext for participating in Europe’s military conflicts. He recounts his relationships with Conrad, a young man whom he loved, and Conrad’s idealistic sister Sophie, who fell in love with Eric but was rejected and finally executed by him. Coup de Grâce further develops Yourcenar’s notion of love as fate and examines the abuse of power in its physical, emotional, and political forms. Critics note that the novel also presents, in the character of Eric, the prototype for Yourcenar’s hallmark larger-than-life protagonist, clearly prefiguring the Hadrian of Memoirs of Hadrian and Zeno of The Abyss.

As Ann M. Begley has pointed out, Yourcenar’s fascination with Hadrian began when she read Gustave Flaubert’s description of the emperor’s era: “Just when the gods had ceased to be and the Christ had not yet come, there was a unique moment in history, between Cicero and Marcus Aurelius, when man stood alone.”

Memoirs of Hadrian is an epistolary novel consisting of the aging emperor Hadrian’s letter to his seventeen-year-old adoptive grandson and heir, Marcus Aurelius, the purpose of which is to pass on the lessons learned in an eventful, varied life. With her stated intention of conveying the psychology of the age, Yourcenar largely avoids plot and melodrama, focusing instead on anecdotal depictions of Hadrian’s career and his meditations on politics, war, art, religion, destiny, and love between and among the sexes. Yourcenar depicts Hadrian as the quintessential warrior-poet, an agnostic who has succeeded in forging a personal moral code with the support of neither ancient myth nor Christian faith. Like Hadrian, Zeno in The Abyss is a faithless man, but one whose personal understanding is achieved through lifelong study and service to the sick. Set during the sixteenth century, the novel details the divergent paths taken by Henri-Maximilian Ligre, scion of a wealthy and powerful family who seeks adventure and fame as a soldier, and his bastard cousin Zeno, a studious, metaphysically-oriented man who despises his cousin’s life and devotes himself to the investigation of philosophy, alchemy, medicine, and mysticism. Portrayed in a Faustian light, Zeno’s quest for an authentic life and truth is seen as heresy by the leaders of his age. The Abyss is a further examination of Yourcenar’s interests in the implications of fate, emergent self-identity, and the relation of magic and philosophy.

Critical Reception

Before the publication of Memoirs of Hadrian, Yourcenar’s works received little attention outside a relatively small group of intellectual readers. Le jardin des chimères, for example, was ignored by most reviewers, but attracted the enthusiastic attention of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, who invited Yourcenar to live in India.

Excerpted from Hans-Bernhard Moeller and George Lellis’

Volker Schlöndorff’s Cinema: Adaptation, Politics, and theMovie


Despite its modest claims, Volker Schlöndorff’s twelfth film, Coup de Grâce (Der Fangschuss, 1976), can be considered a jewel among his creations. Adapted from Marguerite Yourcenar’s novel by the same title, this film brings the 1920s heritage to life, thanks to quilted jackets, frozen landscapes, impersonal firing squads, uniformed soldiers folk dancing at war-ravaged estates: images, sound, and texture evocative of revolutionary Russia. In addition, actress Valeska Gert, 1920s exponent of avant-garde pantomime, expressionist dance, and women’s liberation, graces the screen in one of her final performances, as Aunt Praskovia.

It marks, at the same time, Schlöndorff’s return to and recapitulation of his own cinematic methods from Young Törless (1966) and The Sudden Wealth of Poor People of Kombach (1971). It presents Margarethe von Trotta, here also Schlöndorff’s screenwriter, in some of her most convincing scenes as an actress. It carries on the portrayal of rebel women in the line of A Free Woman (1972) and The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (1975), though in more spartan visual style. In all its simplicity, this is a key work by a pivotal literary filmmaker of Young and New German cinemas.

Coup de Grâce places the reader or viewer in conditions of near-civil war that raged in the Baltic provinces near Riga in the early twenties. Radical Bolsheviks, Estonian and Latvian nationalists, German junkers, and White Russians, as well as fortune hunters and volunteer militias, attack each other. One reactionary stronghold is the castle Kratovice, ancestral home of Konrad von Reval (Rüdiger Kirschstein), who returns as an officer and finds his sister Sophie (Margarethe von Trotta). She falls in love with his comrade Erich von Lhomond (Matthias Habich), also a childhood friend, from whose masculine point of view Yourcenar’s novel is written. She politically sympathizes with village Bolsheviks, but when Erich does not return her love, she moves to the communist camp.

Schlöndorff has, in fact, reconfigured the point of view within the narrative situation: as the material changes from book form to the film medium, Sophie turns into Erich’s co-protagonist.

This change proves useful to Schlöndorff’s personal set of themes, since instead of an officer and his memories, a woman moves to the forefront along with the conflicts of her emotions, her epoch, and her environment.

In the adaptation process, Schlöndorff has set up an unusual narrative structure. On one hand, he is taking a book that features a male point of view and evokes the genre of the war film––a genre usually characterized by a male point of view. On the other hand, the shift away from a first-person male narrator represents here a subverting of the war film’s usual masculine perspective.

Schlöndorff’s film develops its love-story narrative in parallel to its war-film narrative. In Coup de Grâce, Sophie’s intertwined expectations for meaningful relationships, personal happiness, and sexual fulfillment are at odds with the largely male-created universe of militarism. Schlöndorff creates a world of intimacy without sex, of sex without intimacy, and of both without happiness. In terms of film genre, the movie asks whether the traditionally configured love story can survive if the woman seeks to be the man’s equal and strives to propagate values counter to repressive masculine ones. Sophie is open, while Erich clings to orthodox formalities and appearances. She is self-disclosing, Erich evasive and even duplicitous. We are never sure whether his feelings for the contessa are sexual, fraternal, or controllingly paternalistic. This ambiguity throws audience identification onto the side of Sophie.

One particular leitmotif of the film’s indirect narrative technique draws attention to political aspects. It cinematically establishes a close link between the contessa and a captured rebel. The latter is not present in Yourcenar’s novel and thus becomes a cinema-specific addition that multiplies meanings through visual echoes and parallels. Both characters are interrogated by Erich in a way that may suggest Schlöndorff’s German point of view. Both are executed according to martial laws. Understood in a broader sense, the film actually offers two “coups de grâce.” In both cases, the business of the execution is cold and efficient; the executioners have little time. Nor does the camera allow the viewer much chance to sympathize, because both “coups de grâce” are photographed from a distance. Both times, executioners shamelessly leave corpses behind, like piles of trash.

Such touches caused a number of critics to comment on the more reserved, artistically quieter approach of Coup de Grâce. In New German Film, Timothy Corrigan positions the work as inferior to films that are more directly subversive. But Corrigan’s analysis misses many of the ways in which Schlöndorff provokes activated viewing and audience reflection. One can argue that Schlöndorff assembles an array of alienating strategies that operate subtly and scrape against the grain of a superficially realist narrative. This movie’s narrative contains many gaps and ellipses, as well as many places where, with characterizations developed only through externalized behavior, motivation is implicit or ambiguous; all of these require an alert viewer to fill in what is missing.

In her introduction to the Coup de Grâce novel, Marguerite Yourcenar insists that her intentions were not to side with any political group or party but rather to present a “study in character and emotion.” Schlöndorff achieves something different. Although it is clear that his political sympathies are not anti-Bolshevik, he never establishes whether his drama should be interpreted personally or politically and so challenges the viewer to resolve the tension between the two.

It is clear that conflicts between the sexes, women’s themes, rebellion, and politics, as well as German history, offer points of contact between Schlöndorff’s film and Yourcenar’s novel.

Coup de Grâce

Volker Schlondorff’s Cinema: Adaptation, Politics, and theMovieAppropriate,” by Hans-Bernhard Moeller and George Lellis.

Coup de grâce

Volker Schlöndorff



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