The Raspberry Reich/The Revolution is My Boyfriend (hardcore version)
English Title: The Raspberry Reich/The Revolution is My Boyfriend (hardcore version)
Original Title: The Raspberry Reich
Country of Origin: Germany, Canada
Studio: Jürgen Brüning Filmproduktion
Director: Bruce LaBruce
Producer(s): Jürgen Brüning
Screenplay: Bruce LaBruce
Editor: Jörn Hartmann
Runtime: 2004 minutes
Genre: Queer, Satire, Adult, Comedy
Language: German, English
Set in present-day Germany, The Raspberry Reich narrates the contradictions and dreams of a Berlin wannabe terrorist group, who plan to liberate the masses from the bourgeois repression, including heterosexual monogamy, through a queer intifada. Gudrun (Sachße), the group’s leader and chief ideologue, forces her boyfriend, Andreas (Monroe), to have sex with another man, and ignites her followers with slogans taken from the writings of sexologist Wilhelm Reich and philosopher Herbert Marcuse. The radicals engage in urban guerrilla activities and kidnap Patrick (Rupprecht), the son of a wealthy German industrialist. When they discover that their victim has been disowned by his father for his homosexuality, the terrorists start panicking. The tensions created by Gudrun’s despotic character causes the dissolution of the group: Patrick escapes with one of his guards and becomes a bank robber; Che (Fettig) enlists in a terrorist training camp in the Middle East; Gudrun and Andreas start a family and have a baby girl, who they name after Ulrike Meinhof, one of the first generation members of the Red Army Faction (RAF) terrorist group.
The Raspberry Reich combines various genres, including political parody, satirical comedy and porn, with a high camp sensibility and an exuberantly transgressive video clip aesthetic, illustrated in the practice of pastiche flashing images, on-screen titles and driven montage. Its irreverent humour represents a cultural attempt to re-engage with the memory of the RAF from a contemporary perspective, but ultimately relies on established stereotypes. With this film, Canadian director Bruce LaBruce reveals how the 1970s West German terrorism is back in vogue in the new millennium, and how the traumatic memory of those events has been transformed into artefacts of popular culture, free from political meaning or historical contextualization. In this sense, very few commentators would have expected that less than a decade after the dissolution of the left-wing terrorist organization such impertinent reconsideration could have been possible.
Although graphic in its depictions of sexual acts, The Raspberry Reich is far from ordinary gay porn, as its sex scenes are overlaid with intertextual references and revolutionary slogans, which comment on the recent ‘terrorist chic’ phenomenon, including the appropriation of revolutionary imagery by popular culture, as in the proliferation of Che Guevara merchandise. During sex, Gudrun declares, ‘Out of the bedrooms into the streets!’ or ‘Heterosexuality is the opiate of the masses,’ which undercut the expectations of the porn format. Gudrun’s pronouncements parody theories about politics and sexuality developed in Eros and Civilization (1955) by Herbert Marcuse, which had a great influence in the 1960s. Instead of arousing audiences, the film’s pornographic images comment on the capitalist process of exploiting revolutionary discourse for commercial ends and assimilating romanticized forms of terrorism. In addition, the particular attention paid to the T-shirts with RAF logo and to the wallpapers featuring Andreas Baader, Ulrike Meinhof and Gudrun Ensslin connects the film to the so-called ‘Prada-Meinhof’ clothing phenomenon in the 1990s, when the fashion industry began to rediscover terrorist iconography on the catwalk and in photo shoots.
In its radical conflation of politics and erotica, and its focus on a (homo-)sexual amour fou, The Raspberry Reich has echoes of Last Tango in Paris (Bertolucci, 1972), where the exploration of sexual practices is actuated only to politicize the attack to the bourgeois ideology. In this case, the taboo act of breaking the heterosexual monogamy pact between Gudrun and Andreas is at the same time the annihilation of the scope of the ‘sacred family,’ and the revelation of the claustrophobic power relations within the bourgeois institution.
LaBruce’s film pays homage also to the Eastern European tradition of politicized art movies, such as WR: Mysteries of the Organism (Makavejev, 1971), through a radical juxtaposed editing of archival footage and interviews to Reich and his wife and visual satirical quotes. The opening scene of The Raspberry Reich in particular, which features masturbation with a gun, is a direct quote of the first episode of Makavejev’s film.
Author of this review: Elena Caoduro