Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Teenage Angst", another "boarding school" film, from Germany


Another current film about boarding school games is Thomas Stuber’s “Teenage Angst” from Germany, from Picture This! Running at 64 minutes, it’s almost like an exaggerated short, but it looks sharp, filmed in full 2.35:1.

The Border Prep School is on or near the grounds of an old Bavarian castle and near a reservoir. Several boys have formed a sort of fraternity and, in clandestine meetings sometimes off the grounds, try to initiate the most vulnerable boy, Leibnitz (Janusz Kocaj), who goes along to be part of the “friendship” and to please his parents and show that he can become a “real man.” The modes of initiation are more dangerous that most of the pranks in my own college days – I’ll come back to that in a moment – because here they include forced drinking, drug use, women, waterboarding, and the like. The ring leader Konstantin (Franz Dinda) comes to question all of this, and oddly the oafish, bearded schoolmaster, who’s always testing boys for alcohol and drugs, encourages him to get “real connections to people.” It all winds up to tragedy at the end, a kind of one-act opera without the singing.

There is in school society a preview of the real world, but without money or a free market; so boys tend to develop a society along “rules” and power structures that they think their elders expect and that mimic the “real world.”

My first semester of on campus college, before my 1961 explusion, included a “hazing” session that they called “Tribunals” the last Friday of September. I skipped out on it, but gradually there would be consequences. That could make another movie.

A reasonable comparison is "The Skulls" (2000) dir. Rob Cohen.

The DVD includes a short “Baby Shark” (“Bebe requin”, directed by Pascal-Alex Vincent (16 min). Here, boys rival for a girl and for each other in a silly school environment, with one kid particularly a “shark.”

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