Elfriede Jelinek (German, 1946)
Wir Sind Lockvoegel Baby (1970)
Michael Ein Jugendbuch fr die Infantilgesellschaft (1972)
Die Liebhaberinnen/ Women as Lovers (1975) +
Die Ausgesperrten/ Wonderful Times (1980) is a disturbing,
satirical and psychological portrait of dysfunctional adolescents living in
a dysfundtional age (post-Nazi, boom, jazz, rock, generational gap).
Four depraved teenagers beat up an attorney more for fun than for the money. Rainer is the brain, Hans love violence, Anne has neurological problems and hates tidiness, Sophie is from a rich family. Rainer and Anna are twins. Sophie is their schoolfriend. Rainer writes poetry, Anna hates everything and sometimes cannot speak, their parents are lower middle class. Their father is a former nazist who lost a leg in the war and, besides the invalidity pension, makes a living as a night porter; but his real passion is porn photography, with his wife as the only (meek) subject. He is proud of all the people whom he killed in the war. Anna takes piano lessons and is a good student, even if sometimes she cannot speak. Rainer poses as the intellectual. Their classmates find them boring. Rainer lusts for Sophie and boasts to her of his senseless cruelty. Hans, who grew up in a socialist family and whose father was killed in a concentration camp, doesn't go to their school but is training instead as an electrician. His mother is disappointed that he snubs the workers' movement and only wants to be rich like Sophie. Hans despises his mother, who failed to achieve anything in life and wastes her life doing a low-paid job.
Rainer's father is a sadistic man who started beating his wife when the war ended and he could not kill prisoners anymore. Rainer is full of superhuman ideology. Rainer and Anna don't appreciate the sacrifices that their mother makes for them. Rainer and Anna hear their mother scream in bed. They are traumatized and introverted. But they also belong to a new era, an era of rebellious teenagers modeling after the rock stars and of a country rebuilding itself and being shaped by foreign culture.
Sophie plays sports and her rich father has a large library. She is constantly moving around in a hurry. Rainer is fond of her but incapable of expressing his desire. She takes taxis, Rainer and Anna travel in packed trams. At class, while the teacher is explaining the romantic poet Stifler, Anna promises to have sex in the bathroom with any boy who sticks a needle under his fingernail and the taker is Gerhard, a shy fat boy who is madly in love with her. It is his first time and Anna does it with no feelings, annoyed that he takes so long and indifferent to his words of love.
Rainer keeps boasting of being from a rich family to impress Sophie; but she snubs him and instead gives some of his brother's expensive clothes to Hans, who is also getting fond of her. Hans dreams of becoming a gym teacher. His strength looks sexy to Anna. Rainer wants them to plan an attack, and wants it to be ideological in nature, not for money. On a crowded train a middle-aged bank clerk touches Anna with sexual intent. She grabs his penis and Rainer steals his wallet.
Anna has really fallen in love this time after having sex with so many kids just to humiliate them. It is Hans' first time and it is rather clumsy but she loves it. He, however, is thinking of Sophie, and Anna is only training for Sophie. Sophie has to carry out her initiation to the group, which consists in drowning a cat; but at the last moment Hans pulls her away and kisses her, upsetting both the twins (one is in love with Hans and the other one with Sophie). The twins' father Otto is a pathetic one-legged monster who killed many people in the war and now abuses his devoted wife: he takes pornographic pictures of her and sometimes rapes her. But also falls comically on the floor and cannot get up, then weeping like a child; and sometimes he just cannot get an erection. The thing that he and his son Rainer have in common is that they both despise mediocrity, except that Rainer escapes it in literature (especially Sartre's and Camus' existentialism) and poetry.
The four friends meet at a jazz club (where Anna tries in vain to impress the musicians with her piano skills) and discuss Rainer's plan to commit a crime, all the while sexual tensions creeping in as Anna flirts with Hans, Hans tries to make Sophie jealous, Rainer looks down on Hans. Anna keeps offering her body to Hans, delirious about the boy, but for him she is only practice for Sophie. Rainer writes poems and tries to touch Sophie's legs and tits, but she does not allow it. Rainer at her place catches glimpses of her expensive clothes, her servants and her hysterical mother (who is also a scientist).
Hans belongs to the working class during the age of the economic boom and of pop culture (which Jelinek satirizes in terse satirical chronicles). Rainer's father routinely whips his wife accusing her of cheating on him, and the children hear it. Rainer would like to help the woman but Anna hopes that their mother dies and their father is jailed for it so that the children will be free. It is the old man, instead, who always tries to cheat on his wife, but always fails. He lets his underage son Rainer drive the car to take him to places where he can lust after cute young girls. Rainer is so disgusted that he is tempted to drive the car into a lake, killing both.
Rainer and Anna are bad swimmers and try in vain to match Sophie's casual elegance at the swimming pool. Rainer gets even more frustrated now that, when her parents are out, Hans sneaks in to have sex with Anna, and Rainer has to listen to his sister's orgasmic noises (although he tries to learn as much as possible for the day he will do it with Sophie). When they are done, Rainer reminds them that they have to work on their criminal plan. Meanwhile Hans has to listen again to his mother telling horrific stories of the death camp where countless people were tortured and killed. Two young socialists come to ask Hans for help in posting posters but he is not interested in politics, now he only dreams of marrying Sophie and getting an education. His mother feels that his father died in vain and that she lived in vain.
His father even forces Rainer to be an altar boy for the Catholic church. Anna sometimes cannot speak at all but she expresses herself by playing classical music on the piano.
Hans sits at the caf with Sophie checking out how grammar school kids spend their time. He is wearing the expensive clothes that she gave him. She is still clueless about Hans' lust for her. Rainer intrudes, jealous of their growing friendship and, convinced of his intellectual superiority, lectures them on his nihilistic philosophy. Rainer's hate for his father keeps growing, as the old depraved keeps torturing his wife.
Anna lures an unsuspecting salesman in a dark alley where Hans attacks him. Rainer directs at a distance, Sophie takes part in the beating and robbing. Anna is particularly vicious.
Sophie manages to remain alone with Hans in her villa, sent away the twins who sense defeat at their respective love goals. Then Sophie asks Hans to strip naked and masturbate in front of her. He is embarrassed but does it and tells her that he loves her, but she seems to be merely a (virgin) voyeur.
His love for Sophie makes Hqns qll the more hostile to the socialist ideals of his hard-working mother, who still truly worships his late father no matter how poor they are.
Rainer borrows his father's car and drives the four around. Anna was dreaming of a scholarship in the USA but Sophie reveals that it was offered to her instead and that she turned it down. Apparently, you have to be from a wealthy family to qualify. The fact that Anna is a better student did not matter. Anna gets depressed. Sophie has learned from her mother the scientist how to make a bomb but Rainer wants to wait until after graduation so that the terrorist act will not compromise his chances of continuing his studies and becoming a great writer. Sophie does not wait: helped by her loyal Hans, she detonates the bomb at school when nobody is around.
The party at the end of school season is a sad one for the twins. To start with, they are ashamed of their parents being there (especially Rainer who has always boasted of his father's imaginary wealth). Anna tries in vain to get Hans' attention but he is all for Sophie (who sneaked him in even if he is not a student). Rainer finally tells Sophie that he loves her, but she coldly informs him that her parents are sending her to boarding school in Switzerland. Then she dumps both admirers neither of which belongs to her future.
The following morning Rainer grabs his father's pistol, shoots his sleeping sister in the head, shoots his mother too, grabs an axe, cuts his father to pieces, finishes his agonizing mother, dismembers his sister's body. At first he tries to fake an alibi, but eventually he calls the police. The cops are shocked
by the mutilated bodies. He briefly tries to pretend that someone else killed
them. Eventually, he confesses.
For Die Klavierspielerin/ Piano Teacher (1983) see the
Die Kinder der Toten (1997) +
Wenn die Sonne Sinkt ist Fuer Manche Schon Bueroschluss (1974) [t] +
Wolken Heim (1990) [t]
Totenauberg (1991) [t]
Ein Sportstueck (1998) [t] +
Der Tod und das Maedchen (2003) [t]