Produced, directed, written by Amos Gitai. Camera (color), Max Rheinlander , Nurith Aviv; editor, Eric Carlier; music, Simon Stockhausen; sound, Joest Bernhard, Daniel Ollivier. Reviewed at London Film Festival, Nov. 6, 1993. Running time: 96 MIN.
As hard as he tries, Amos Gitai fails to come up with anything fresh in “In the Valley of the Wupper,” an unfocused docu on the problem of growing racism in Germany. Result is specialist fest/tube fare at best.
Starting point is a barroom brawl in the town of Wuppertal, northwest Germany , in November 1992, that ended in two right-wing German skinheads setting fire to a man who claimed to be half-Jewish.
Gitai quizzes a cross-section of inhabitants about what they remember of the incident (not much), and zeros in on the deputy public prosecutor (impeccably polite) and other parties. Photos and press reports are never shown, which lends a distanced air to the work.
The event emerges more as a drinking contest that turned ugly than a racist attack per se, despite Gitai’s earnest attempts to expose a legal coverup. Clearly running out of gas on that approach, the film switches tack halfway through and starts interviewing discontented young Germans and foreigners. Gitai’s attempt to paint Wuppertal as a microcosm of Germany, and one with dark industrial/anti-semitic associations, seems strained.
At half the length, and with a clearer focus, docu would make a mildly interesting snapshot of social woes in Germany. But Gitai’s starting point is too shaky to support an extrapolation of this kind.
Pic is padded with endless traveling shots of the town from its raised railway. Tech credits are functional.