Friday, August 23, 2013

"Das letzte Schweigen" (2010)

At first glance, “The Silence” is just another depressing, hopeless, crime drama like every other popular dark story emerging from Europe these days. Two girls are killed two decades apart in the same way on the same spot and police attempt to finally apprehend the monster that did it.

However, this is not a story about the “first glance” of things. It is only a mystery on the surface. The real story being explored here is the way society—and in particular, German society—reacts to the terrible, the horrifying. And this study is spot on. German society is carefully constructed to avoid… to avoid things like discomfort, fear, the unknown, or the important questions in life. Routine is not just a way of life, it is a coping mechanism, a pair of blinders, one might even dare to say it is a crutch.

When routines are interrupted by a terrible surprise such as in this story everyone in society is knocked off balance. Who wouldn’t be? However, instead of addressing the horror and the questions it raises—the way it lulls us to look inside and discover deeper things about ourselves—the people in this story go numb. They initially fall apart, but they very quickly find a way to resume the daily routines that are automatic. Maintaining a room exactly as it has always been, running the same route every day, going to sit at an office, or following procedure to the last letter without stopping to think.

The police commissioner in this story comes across as a joke, but he more than others perfectly illustrates the point of the story. His job is not to investigate or give any thought to the hows and whys of the atrocities. He is simply there to follow the routine of procedure. In the end he doesn’t really care about the truth or capturing the monster he is chasing. His job is to facilitate everyone getting back to normalcy as quickly as possible.

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