Central Europe Review find out about advertising in CER
Vol 2, No 20
22 May 2000
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Violence and muddy sex
Pogo Frenzy
Dominik and Benjamin Reding's
Oi! Warning

Elke de Wit

The incredibly homo-erotic romp that takes place in an empty but extremely muddy swimming pool, between a skin head and a new-age traveller is the best thing about this film. The scene appears miraculously in the middle of it. Otherwise it is devoid of passion, compassion or any form of love.

Janosch (Sascha Backhaus), who has run away from home and become a skinhead in Dortmund, finds that he is far from capable of beating up hippy Zottel (Jens Veith), who lives in a caravan. Before you can say "Oi! Warning" the two nubile young men are locked in each others' arms and are cavorting around a muddy slime pit of a swimming pool. To say that the close ups of chests, biceps, limbs and lips smothered in mud are highly erotic is an understatement.

Violence without responsibility
Unfortunately the rest of this feature could not be more different. Koma (Simon Goerts) is the mate that Janosch goes to stay with after he runs away from home. This unpleasant character gets his girlfriend pregnant, and she has twins. His sense of responsibility toward her does not change as a result. Koma strolls happily through this story beating people up (or having them beaten up), pogoing violently at skinhead gigs and generally being thoroughly unpleasant. The only part of his life that is uncommonly organised is his wardrobe. Most of the clothes in it are identical, white and neatly stacked.

Interestingly, Koma does not seem remotely infatuated with Janosch until he secretively watches him having the sexual romp with Zottel. Thus when he jealously demands that Janosch burn down Zottel's caravan, it comes as a complete surprise. Luckily Janosch finally hits Koma over the head with a brick when he discovers that Koma has killed Zottel. I only wish he had done it sooner.

Oi! Warning contains many separate scenes - gigs, boxing matches, fights, (one where the loser gets to drink urine out of a bottle), outings, chats, but fails in having a really gripping plot line. It is more a sequence of unpleasant short, sharp shocks. Seeing it is an experience akin to bouncing around upside down on a pogo stick.

Not exposed as racist?
On a political note a worrying factor of the film is its treatment of violence within the skinhead movement. It is portrayed as fun. One has the feeling that someone opposed to skinheads would find it appalling, but if you were a skinhead you might find this film 'cool'. It looks like skinheads spend their lives partying and beating people up, but the film fails to cover the racist angle of being a skinhead. If the directors felt that this was not part of the storyline, one might ask that since they chose an anti-social group such as this to tell a story with, than they have missed an important aspect of their lives.

In a new Germany that is struggling to cope with foreign races and integrating them into the society, any 'good press' about the skinhead movement is disquieting. It is worrying that the press screening I saw this film at was packed (one of the few films showing within the Neue Deutsche Filme section that was). The audience cheered and whistled at the end. One can only hope that the most part of them were crew and cast, not appreciative fans.

Elke de Wit, 22 May 2000

Elke de Wit reviews other Neue deutsche Filme shown at the 50th Berlinale:
Dumping the Girlfriend
Klaus Krämer's Drei Chinesen mit dem Kontrabass
Warning: Football Can Damage Your Health
Tomy Wigand's Fussball ist unser Leben
Just Good Friends?
Anne Høegh Krohn's Fremde Freundin
Romanticising Misogyny
Egon Günther's Die Braut
Sensual Passion, Nazi Terror
Rolf SchĂĽbel's Ein Lied von Liebe und Tod
Ossies on Ice
Pepe Danquart's Heimspiel
Rosa von Praunheim's Der Einstein des Sex
Wasted Lives in Changing Times
Andreas Kleinert's Wege in die Nacht
Dreaming in Colour
Veit Helmer's Tuvalu
One Last Lunge at Freedom
Sebastian Schipper's Absolute Giganten
Pricking Germany's Racist Conscience
Frieder Schlaich's Otomo
Devilishly Bad
Bernd Eichinger's Der Große Bagarozy
Chance at the End of the Millennium
Thorsten Schmidt's
Schnee In Der Neujahrsnacht
Growing up Late
Doris DĂrrie's Erleuchtung Garantiert
The Sunnier Side of East Germany
Leander HauĂźmann's Sonnenallee
Broken by the Streets
Maren-Kea Freese's Zoe

Click here for the Berlinale website

Moving on:


Andrew Cave
Finding a Role in an Enlarged EU

Catherine Lovatt
Scandal Rocks Romania

Mel Huang
Estonia's First Census

Jan Čulík
Czech Smear Politics

Oliver Craske
The UK Press and the Pope

Gusztáv Kosztolányi
Censorship in Hungary

Brian J Požun
Slovenia's Suicides

Magali Perrault
100 Days of Haider

Slavko Živanov
The Serb Crisis

Václav Bělohradský

Elke de Wit
Oi! Warning

Wojtek Kość
Polish Anti-pulp

Culture Calendar:

Student Essay:
Jiří Brodský
Little Czechs, Big Europe

Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?

PR and Extremism

Czech Republic