Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

Anybody out there speak German?

I sure would like to know what this is all about.

Hat tip: Laz.

Update: Reader Mitchell sends the following:

In short, the film is about five people in Cuba, the former “Pearl of the Caribbean”, including one expropriated land owner, as the buildings and political system around them collapse. Based on the description, it appears to be about collapse and corruption in the current Cuba.

15 thoughts on “Sprechen Sie Deutsch?”

  1. First off its Sprechen Sie Deutsch, and my Deutsch is a bit to rusty to get all of it. Majorly it seems simply about the ruins, in some sort of a poetic view. I’ve sent the synopsis to a friend to translate….

  2. Val,

    The following is stated on their home page:

    “A portrait of the inhabited ruins of Havana and their strange blend of magic and demolition.
    HAVANA – THE NEW ART OF MAKING RUINS captures the final moments of these buildings before they’re renovated – or simply collapse altogether.

    BTW, IN BOCCA AL LUPO! The Babalu community is proud of you!

    I wish you well 🙂 Melek

    “A life lived with integrity – even if it lacks the trappings of fame and fortune is a shining star in whose light others may follow in the years to come.” ~ D. Waitley

  3. Also, i did some online translations….it seems they are relating the ruins with the struggle of the people to live in them and I quote “as if the socialist revolution never happened” and “before the roof collapses on your head”

  4. The two German directors of this film, Florian Borchmeyer and Matthias Hentschler, were guests of Oscar Haza (in A Mano Limpia, which luckily now has an internet live feed) a couple of nights ago. Florian speaks perfect Spanish. The filmmakers are working on a Spanish version of the film, and plan to show it in Miami in the near future. Haza invited them to appear on the show again around the time of the Miami showing. From the clips I saw in A Mano Limpia and the commentary from the Spanish-speaking director, it looks like this is a must see.

  5. I majored in German, and the English translation gibes pretty well with the German:

    “Public premiere, Feb 1 in downtown Berlin’s Kino Babylon at 9:15 PM, with a party and guests”

    “A portrait of the ruins of Havana and its residents. A film about the ambivalence between magic and destruction, capturing the last minutes before the buildings are renovated or demolished.”

  6. One of the movie clips shown in A Mano Limpia featured Antonio José Ponte describing his theory to explain the ruins seen all around Havana. It was quite a powerful clip. An excerpt is available at the movie’s website in German. I believe it translates into something along these lines:
    My theory is: the total discourse of fidel castro, today and since the beginning, is based on the American invasion. The city of Havana and its ruins correspond exactly to this discourse. In order to legitimize his political power, fidel castro says we are permanently facing an American invasion. In order to legitimize this political discourse architecturally, the city must look as if it had already been attacked and bombed. In this sense, a new art rules here to construct ruins. At the end, it is a bit like those large English estates [from the Gothic Revival period]. Because the Gothic period did not originally take place in their country, it had to be manufactured. And hence they constructed false ruins. Because the invasion did not take place, we are the false ruins of an invasion, a war that never was.
    I get chills up and down my spine just recalling that scene. It is an absolutely devastating indictment of what castro really represents…

  7. Oops… Replace country with lands in the translation above. Sometimes the keyboard gets ahead of the brain…

  8. Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

    As they say in Wiesbaden, you betcha.

    This is a film about 5 people living in building conditions which would have been condemned by any sane government bureaucrat in any another country.

    (Not to mention the outcry and chest-beatings by alarmed media and activists, the kind heard during the Katrina tragedy. I can just see Sean Penn, holding a lantern as he checked the inhabitants of a crumbling edifice, shedding Truth and Light to the poor, downtrodden mass inside, can’t you?)

    Totico (heh) is a plomero, who leaves his noisy-ass flat to the roof top to commune with his pigeons.

    Reinaldo is a homeless man (obviamente este no se permuta) who finds shelter in a renowned opera house where the famed Caruso once sang to the Habanera high society.

    Misleydis (finally, a nouveau Cuban name!) who was married to a millionaire, way back in the day, leaves her home to visit the enchanted luxury hotels she used to frequent, to remind herself of that past beauty and grace which used to exist in Havana…

    Meanwhile, el hijo de un gran haciendero of yesteryear, continues to live in the family home, despite the fact that apparently Nicanor and his dad cannot stand each other, because he just wants to keep up the style his family were accustomed to, back when.

    Lastly, writer Ponte constructs a kind of philosophy of ruin, to explain in part the ruin that is Cuba, and under which Cubans of all generations and backgrounds find themselves living in, without hope of improvement.

    Man, this film sounds AWESOME.

    I want to watch it NOW!


  9. BTW, in passing:

    If there are ANY people who can understand rubble, and ruin, it is the Germans.

    I am not surprised that it is a German filmmaker, that made this film.

    Germans have a whole genre of films called “The Rubble Films” (Trümmerfilm), notably, “The Murderers are amongst us”, and even Roberto Rosselli got into the act, with “Germania Anno Zero”.

    Despair, decay, sense of alienation, loss, and moral pulchitrude reflected in the destruction of the buildings around them.

    Germany 1945
    Cuba 2007


  10. Interestingly enough, one of the directors, Florian Borchmeyer, is from the “old” West Germany, and the other, Matthias Hentschler, from the “old” East Germany. I find the symbolism in this rather comforting…

  11. BTW, Cigar Mike, the five main “characters” (nicely described by Victoria) are shot in their native tongue, i.e. Spanish. So, the original German version of the film/documentary is mostly understandable to a Spanish speaker, especially since the directors were purposely aiming to have their “subjects” speak for themselves.

  12. Val, the was a review of the film in Rl Nuevo Heraldo:


    The film received a lot of publicity as the Cuban government did not permit the presentation of the film at the Havana film festival in December.

    The German embassy foolishly appeased the Cuban government by accepting the rejection of the official German contribution.

    The film got an award of the German bundesland of Bavaria in February. The start of the film in the cinema will be in March.

    Both authors of the film lived severla years in Cuba.

    For a review and the recation of the Cuban government please refer to the following article in “Cuba Encuentro”.


    For mor information about the contents ask me because I am German and I know the authors.

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