Cinematically, In the Fade (Aus dem Nichts) is an excellent film. Its three chapters are shot in three distinct styles; Diane Kruger’s performance is exquisite, from the tiny details on her facial expressions to the physical bearing of her presence on screen; the soundtrack is excellently matched to the plot and succinct; the Golden Dawn link provides further relevance (Greek acclaimed film director Yannis Economides is extremely convincing in his part): all these elements testify to a feat of artistic thoroughness in Fatih Akin’s latest feature.
The film’s reception in the UK however, causes a lot of scepticism. The film arrived in UK cinemas with several months’ delay. The Guardian ditched it; not only the Nazi’s are dubbed ‘terrorists’ at start, but Peter Bradshaw makes an outright political judgement that, while the film is right to pick on Europe’s xenophobia, the real issue is the Islamists’ attacks and the “Islamophobe panic they are intended to create” – as if Islamophobia were the direct outcome of terrorism. What the clearly politically biassed critic silences is that, while the highest body-count of terrorist attacks is in fact seen in Muslim countries (Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan), the far-right and Neo-Nazi ideology has taken on in Europe big time, even during the couple of weeks following the film’s release.
The film strikes a fine balance between post-90’s liberalism, post-WWII German conscience, and today’s regression into xenophobia. While the couple depicted in the film are leading a comfortable family life, they are neither well-off nor a typical conservative kitsch household. Their illegal-drug past may still cast shadows, but they seem very much in control of their lives. While Katja senses that the murder of her partner and child was a neo-Nazi attack, the father of one of the culprits gives them away–the father is alerted of the resemblance to the murders of 2000-2007, when nine ethnic minority male citizens were murdered by the National-Socialist Underground. The film’s point is that no-one in Germany should be negligent of these murders. Today’s xenophobia, from Italy to the US, and back in the EU via the Wisegrad countries’ Trump-style anti-immigrant policies, should remind us that no-one should be negligent of the NSU and their trial.
In the film, the link to the Greek Golden Dawn (GD) is explicit. GD provide a fake alibi and help the neo-Nazis culprits escape to Greece. Katja, having lost faith in justice, tracks them down. The finale consists in a suicide attack by Katja (using the same kind of nail-bomb that had been described to her in tortuous detail during the trial). Is this what Guardian readers find so uncomfortable? That there is such a thing as a non-terrorist suicide bomber? Or that the perpetrator is not an Islamist? Or that the victims are not liberal Europeans, but a bunch of proper hardcore Nazis? Or is it that the film highlights Europe’s xenophobic regime? Mainstream politics increasingly recede into the dark waters of what Europe has known only too well: from Germany’s failing government to EU’s financial elites, the liberals are sucking up to the xenophobes and the neo-Nazis. What is to be done? The Golden Dawn trial is ongoing. There is still more evidence to be dug out. However, the public is paying little attention to the revelations of the trial proceedings. It is time to take action, to expose unremittingly the true nature and purpose of neo-Nazis masquerading as “nationalists” and “patriots” in order to harness people’s anger and divert it away from its true causes – inequality, austerity and the bleak future that they augur – and convert it to hatred towards the “others”.