I’ve been putting off writing this, mainly because I can track the exact process of it with exact dates and records, the source of annoyance being that I can’t do that for Jogi.
Stalingrad is where it begins, the 2013 Russian war film, not the 1993 German classic. I saw it twice at the cinema, first on the 22nd February and again on the 26th. The first time was weird because we saw The Lego Movie first and I had that everything is awesome song stuck in my head. The second time not weird, just bad because I saw The Book Thief after it. At the time I thought I should have seen Stalingrad twice instead. I like the book of The Book Thief, it’s one of my favourite books ever, yet despite both Rainer Bock and Oliver Stokowski (funnily enough he’s in Schneeland with TK) being it, I hate the film, it really was a huge disappointment for me. I just realised, February, that’s the month of Joachim’s birthday, that is not good, I do not like that at all, even though he reigns supreme now. I shouldn’t see it as bad thing, I should treat as yet anothe pre-cursor to the domination of Die Mannschaft.
I can track when it started, how the collection started and how it grew, I can’t explain why him though. The closest thing I have to an explanation is that I love how he sounded, I fell in love with his Eastern sounding accent, with his softly spoken German and with his accented English and the sometimes odd ways he expressed himself in English.
This video being one of those occasions:
I wasn’t completely unaware of his existence; I was familiar with the Downfall parody videos, obviously I’d seen him in Downfall and The Pianist. I also had two of his films on DVD, Grimm Love and Eichmann both of which were bought during the German obsession at the beginning of 2013 when I started collecting the films of Christoph Waltz, Daniel Brühl, Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Mühe, Ulrich Tukur and any German film I could find. I never got around to watching them and I didn’t buy any more at the time, he didn’t capture my imagination like Sebastian and the others did.
Looking back now at many of the films he was in and I can’t help but agree, he was a baffling choice. King Kong, Next, Hostel Part III, What A Man, U-571, Valkyrie, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Head in the Clouds, Wanted, Transsiberian and Karate Dog. There are some good films he’s been in as well true, Stalingrad, Immortal, Rua Alguem, Open Grave, Dracula and The Stendhal Syndrome, but more bad than good and more importantly more of the stuff I hate.
What I find interesting is the way in which fragments of an obsession remain, for example there are scenes from Stalingrad that I just can’t get out of my head. I wonder how much of it is because they are in German and how much is because of him. No doubt some of the appeal is that I understood a lot of the German without the subtitles.
This has some of those scenes, my favourites in particular are the tank scene, the speech to his men, for whatever reason I love the way he says “ist ganz Deutschland” and also the scene where we see him visit Masha for the first time.
I’ve done exactly the same with Thomas, Daniel, Sebastian and Christoph. I watched their films so many times that I can’t bear to see them (the only exceptions to this rule are Das Leben der Anderen and Der Tunnel), at least not any time in the near future. I still enjoy quoting them to myself and in conversation, I still like playing certain scenes back in my head but I can’t watch them in their entirety. I guess there’s a point of over familiarity even for me.
The seeds for Thomas’ downfall (pun intended) were sown long before the World Cup, to be precise in February with the purchase of a Germany football t-shirt. The February connection isn’t all bad. I wanted a t-shirt with the German flag on, that was the closest thing I could find. Funny how things work out.
There were some unusual acquisitions in connection with the Kretschmann Collection, I started by collecting Nazi era stamps and moved onto DDR stamps and then to all sorts of random historical items from both Nazi Germany and the DDR. Postcards from the front, propaganda posters, a DDR soldier jacket, coins, photos, envelopes with German and Austrian postmarks, books, DDR medals and randomly a set of 10 DDR paper flags. Not forgetting my favourite acquisition at the time, a white cotton undershirt almost identical to the kind the Wehrmacht wore, this one being from Sweden.
My first directly related TK purchase (not counting DVDs) was a huge door size poster for The Pianist and some press stuff for the same film from Japan. Then followed the usual stuff, posters, pictures, signed pictures, press clippings and magazines. I’m still pleased with some of the posters I managed to get, especially the Stalingrad ones because they’re originals. I was especially happy at getting a press book for Stalingrad. Not forgetting Professor Zündapp of course, all three of them, one of which talks, in English unfortunately. In the summer, more original posters, press books and photos. The last items obtained were a Valkyrie lobby card and some press clippings from Germany. The former is of particular importance since I got this wonderful stamp as a result: