Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Aufklärungsrolle –Als die Liebe laufen lernte ([West] Germany, 1988)

(This review appeared in a print copy of the excellent film magazine Shock Cinema some half-dozen years ago. If you don’t know the magazine, you should. For more info on Shock Cinema, check out their homepage).

Roughly translated, the name of this movie in English would be "When Love Was Learning How to Walk." It is definitely one of those films that makes a person glad that they can understand German, for Als die Liebe laufen lernte would never work dubbed or subtitled, not that it ever would be. A hit in Germany when it first came out, it was quickly followed in 1989 with Als die Liebe laufen lernte, Teil 2, directed by Anthony Waller. How much the individual directors of each film actually had to do with the movie is questionable, for the only name that carries through in both films is that of the producer, Richard Claus. (Michael Strauven, who directed the first film, has never been heard of again; Waller went on to make the excellent Hitchcock influenced thriller Mute Witness (1994) and the barely bearable An American Werewolf in Paris (1997), both of which had Claus as a producer or co-producer.)
Als die Liebe laufen lernte is a hilarious combination of outtakes edited from the German “aufklärung” (or “clarification”) films of the 1960s and early 1970s. With titles such as Helga, Die Schulmädchen Report or Die Hausfrau Report (Parts 1 to ad nausea), these films were the German film industry’s response to the changing mores of society at the time: soft-core sex films disguised as studies or clarification. They purported to explain the changing mores of the youthful society as well as the how, what, when, where and why of sex. Depending on the slant of the film, they were either relatively informative, unbearably boring or completely negative – not something you would want to sit through from start to finish in any event.
For Als die Liebe laufen lernte, the filmmakers selected some of the most laughable or outrageous outtakes, either due to the content or the way the content is presented. Love that explanation of different positions shown through the use of wooden drawing puppets, the commentary of which finally informs the viewer that “this position” (69) should not be done because it results with the man’s nose being subjected to the unpleasant smells of the posterior. Or how about how some women become lesbians because they get flashed as a child? And did you know that “petting”, like Rock ‘n’ Roll, came to Germany from the United States? Some sequences are positively surreal, such as that of the naked girl running down a beach being pursued by a bulldozer with its shovel full of about 8 men dressed like English businessmen with bowlers.
Als die Liebe laufen lernte is easy to see several times and almost makes you want to see the original sources, though any person who had the honor of seeing those films when they first came out is quick to warn you against doing so. (Actually, some of those films are now to be found on late night television in Germany, especially on the local, low budget city television stations. In general, if you suffer from insomnia they work better than a sleeping pill. Even uncut they reveal the innocence of their time.) This selection of outtakes is well worth seeing, even if you don’t understand German. And club owners take note: Als die Liebe laufen lernte is an excellent film to project in the background as moving décor.
The German CD firm Crippled Dick Hot Wax has released an excellent compellation CD of music from the Schulmädchen series composed by Gert Wilden, one of Germany's great B-film composers. A definite must for fans of Sleazy Listening.

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