Monday, August 31, 2009

aimee und jaguar

A few days ago, I was cycling back home from work, at a rather unusually slow pace and in a much missed feeling of appreciating my surrounding. It was a warm summer evening. I cycled through small streets and alleyways opening up to main roads passing by families and strollers looking at them from a slightly elevated view. It was then I realised I missed traveling across the city on an overground train observing the life on the streets from the perspectives of buildings.

Then I missed taking the S-bahn in Hamburg between Sternschanze and Altona or in Berlin cutting all the way from the east all the way to the west. Observing the people in the train, reading their newspaper, talking to their friends, thinking about getting back to their homes. At the same time, I could see people walking when we approached stations, taking a left turn into the small street with that man, or taking my child into my lap like that woman. Contrary to what many people think, I never lived in Germany, maybe for that reason, I always attached myself into those stories that I could so easily observe or create. I have rarely taken an overground train in London, especially in the evening. Only when I lived for a few months in Streatham Hill, last winter, I would take a train from Farringdon, swim through the endless estates of South London, gaze upon the misty Brockwell park through a winter evening's fog. A few days ago, I felt I missed cruising over the city, watching my fellow citizens...


On another evening, I came upon a film called Aimee and Jaguar at the Prince Charles Cinema, a central-London favourite. I went home and downloaded it, to go back to it this morning. It is years 1943-1944, Berlin. Aimee married a Wehrmacht soldier at the age of 20, and has 4 kids from him. Her husband is away at the Eastern front, trying to keep hold of Berlin against the Soviets. Aimee seeks re-vitalisation in her life and enjoys small gifts from a flirt with another army general.

Jaguar is a Jew and she is working under disguise at a Nazi sympathetic newspaper assistant editorial. She is in love with words and poetry, and an adventurous, almost a carefree lady who is bitterly sarcastic at the unfairness of life, yet tries to secure an escape for herself and her close friends from Germany at the height of the Jew hunt by the Gestapo and the SS.

Ilse is Jaguar's girlfriend and she provides shelter for Jaguar until one evening when Ilse's communist father decides he will not be able to help a Jew hide in his house when he realises that Jaguar is a lesbian and that his daughter Ilse is in love with her.

Jaguar seduces Aimee, who is at first skeptic but is in search for a 'new feeling' after having been deprived of love that was never there through her marriage with Günther. Aimee seeks new friendships with Jaguar and her company, Ilse is more and more frustrated at losing Jaguar to Aimee and is worried that Jaguar will throw away her chance to escape Berlin, incapable of leaving Aimee behind.

The love between the two women grow when Jaguar finally reveals to Aimee that she is a Jew, and Aimee, in whom a deep insecurity has been embedded, draws closer to Jaguar, possibly succumbing under the responsibility of being the wife of a Nazist soldier, added to her tender emotions to Jaguar and the emerging chance of 'taking care of someone' she loves.


Berlin, 1943-1944, the city is rapidly being destroyed. Once the dreamland of Germania, the city is under constant mist, smoke, smell of burned flesh, blood, mortar and explosives. Everyone is dressed in brown, even the most exclusive hotel gatherings have a darker shade of grey overcasting the golden glamour. The city looks fatally beautiful even in its destruction. A beauty under depression, or the beauty of the depression. Ones who created the metropolis are now causing its total destruction. None stranger than Deutsche Bank (the funders of the research project I am working for) have sold the golds of the Jews to traders to 'neutral' countries, none stranger than my home country, Turkey, to provide more funding to the fascist regime and its army, the Wehrmacht. Those, who made, destroyed and re-made Germany.

A romantic ideology, suppressed by contemporary Germans for decades, one that created the 'fatherland's soul, its philosophy and its rich cultural heritage; that has recently been borough back to drama by films such as Aimee und Jaguar and many others. Aimee und Jaguar is an impressive, touching film about a real story that took place during one of the most cruelsome events of the recent past, is being told by a cast and crew that is dominating the contemporary German cinema industry with its familiar directors, producers and actors. Juliane Kohler (Aimee) was Eva Braun in der Untergang, in which also Ulrich Mattes was cast in a much more significant role as Goebbels (the SS who arrested Jaguar in Aimee und Jaguar, a 1999 production). Johanne Wokalek (Ilse) is Gudrun Elssin in the recent der Baader Meinhof Komplex, in which Martina Gedeck (Ulrike Meinhof) made worthy of her performance previously in das Leben der Anderen

Familiar faces, and familiar feelings. A warm Sunday morning brought back memories that I had just recently been missing of places that I associated with. Stories that once were, long forgotten, now re-lived. Traumas re-visited, coldness re-shivered for. I felt like I did the anticipated city-gazing over the rail tracks, following Aimme and Jaguar's love that was a fable, glimpse of a possibility in the impossible.

24-31 August 2009, London.


blogalized said...

Talking about longing/nostalgia; and movies, the ability to download movies is what I miss, being in Stockholm. I really envy you for that. :(

ömer said...

Hmm, have I missed out on something legal that is not relevant to London but to Stockholm on that end? This could be tricky!