Aren’t We Wonderful?

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Teaching / Society / NoHier / DDD / Modules / Rants /

In 1958 the Germans released a fairly amazing movie. Aren’t We Wonderful is a musical comedy of Germany from World War I to World War II. Under the Kaiser the school boys march and salute. One little fat kid marches and salutes in ways that get him chosen as a poster boy for the Kaiser. The protagonist marches and salutes more in the shadows, embarrassed by the whole thing. The poster boy flourishes, the hero just wants to live a life, marry his girl, raise his children.

Under Hitler the fat little kid is now a big Nazi. The hero and his family flee Germany. They starve their way through the war in accommodating neighbor countries. Even in Belgium or Norway, finding a fresh egg for a family to dine on is a big thing.
The film is accompanied by Germans laughing and singing and drinking around the piano in a beer hall. “Aren’t we wonderful” is the refrain: never more funny, never more ironic.

After World War II Germany has to renounce its ways. Who’s in charge of deconstructing Kaiser feudalism and Nazi fascism? Our hero? Not on your life. No, the new order is run by the fat little Kaiser Nazi. Working with him, above him, below him, all around him, are all the other complaint, aggessive, ambitious, not too bright, profoundly ignorant cream of German-type kleptocratic school systems (which Americans have so imitated and perfected).

Who ran the United States after the Civil War? The people who’d opposed slavery when it was legal? No, those people were still in hiding. Who ran the United States after the failures of the war in Vietnam? The opponents of the war? No: they’d been scattered: fled the country, were riding the rails … bums, hoboes. (Some were brain dead from a little too much love and liberty.)

The more kleptocratic the nation you live in the more you will recognize Wir Wunderkinder as your own culture’s history: probably its future, too. Alas.

Columbia being located in New York City I had access to an array of movie theaters as an undergraduate in addition to the museums, concert halls, and jazz dens. The best thing about New York’s movie theaters is their variety, not just their quantity and their ubiquity. There are repertory theaters where Citizen Kane or Roshomon are sure to show at least once in any couple of years. If Birth of a Nation doesn’t come to the Thalia, it might show up at the Bleeker Street, the New Yorker, or the Elgin. The usual theaters showed the usual selection; the art houses brought English films, French films, films by Bergman, Fellini, Kurosawa … Thus, in 1958, probably at the Thalia, I went to see a German offering: Aren’t We Wonderful.
I’ve never forgotten it. I just looked it up on There were no reviews and only one user comment: “Beautiful, shamefully overlooked film.”

I’ve wanted to mention this film at for some time now. Today I place my draft in my FLEX section because of the school tie-in. It would also suit my Favorites section or my Society section.

I know exactly what triggered my writing this essay today. I still love films and need trash and bullshit almost as much as I need great art. I discover treasures previously unknown to me (such as Picnic at Hanging Rock, Baraka, Balkan Cabaret … and also rent stuff I expect to be trash: Terminator 3, Universal Soldier … Sometimes the trash is actually pretty good, sometimes it’s great … and sometimes it’s worse than I can believe. But last night Universal Soldier reminded me of Aren’t We Wonderful in spades. The Military has scores of doctors and technicians and cybernetics magicians and medical wizards working for them. No real cyberneticists, no linguists, no philosophers … but some specialists of intellect. They see that the cyborgs the army has illegally created are malfunctioning. But they’re not in charge. The intellectuals are never in charge. King Hamlet sends Laertes and Hamlet Junior off to school so that they can offer opinions: advise him; not command him. The decisions are made by the guy with the half inch forehead and two inch eyebrows and Gibralter-scale jaw. If the public wants someone to palm off as an intellectual, rich schools always have a Bush lying around. Bulldog Yale!

Beetle-Brow tells the “scientists” that the cyborg is fine. “You’re the boss,” agree the lifers.
Without that precise situation how many movies could realistically end in fireballs?

Keywords: school, state, promote

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About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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