Sunday, 13 November 2016

Muschimaus mag's grad heraus (4 Stars)

Over the next few months I intend to watch a number of German erotic comedies from the 1970's. This was the golden decade for this genre. Arguably, the first film of the genre was "Engelchen", made in 1968, and the last was "Schoolgirl Report 13", made in 1980. Over these 12 years several hundred erotic comedies were made -- I won't even hazard a guess how many -- of varying quality, but all very popular in German cinemas.

The German erotic comedies of the 1970's were a cultural phenomenon that is difficult for non-Germans to understand. In fact, it's also difficult for Germans born since the 1970's to understand. It was a time when it was respectable for people to go to the cinema to watch films with full frontal nudity, so the films were shown in high street cinemas, alternating with American blockbusters like "Jaws" and "Taxi Driver". This was alienating to Americans and other foreigners who were used to having one cinema for normal films and another for sex films.

It's relatively easy to understand the origins of the German erotic comedies. Books and university theses have been written on the topic, and I wrote a brief explanation in my review of "The Door". If you can read German I recommend the highly informative book "Schulmädchen-Report" by Annette Miersch. What's difficult to understand is why they stopped so abruptly. My only guess is that the popularity of home VCR players killed off the interest. When it became possible for films to be watched at home people could watch explicit hardcore sex, so the softcore films of the 1970's were too boring. It wasn't until the mid 2000's that the 1970's films were reappraised as classics.

A common theme in most of the 1970's German erotic comedies is female empowerment. It's not a matter of female equality. The women (even schoolgirls) are portrayed as the superior gender. The men are horny fools, unable to resist the female sexuality, but the women alone determine when and with whom they have sex. In this respect "Muschimaus mag's grad heraus" is a typical film. In case you're wondering what the title means, Muschimaus is a nickname given the main character, Senta Vukovic, by her boyfriend, meaning something like Sexy Mouse, so the whole title means "Sexy Mouse likes to tell it as it is" or "Sexy Mouse likes to be open about things".

The film begins with Senta hitchhiking in Bavaria. No car will stop for her, so she strips naked at the roadside. The first man who sees her crashes his car into a tree. Does this worry her? Not at all. She stands laughing at the stupid man who's been thrown out of his car injured. As a superior woman she enjoys the power she has over men. She's sent to court, accused of deliberately causing an accident, but this doesn't worry her. After all, the judge is only a man -- German courts don't have juries -- so she wears a revealing top and has no trouble getting off with a light sentence.

The judge orders Senta to write a 100-page description of her life so far. He tells her that this is intended to help her feel regret for her life so far, but she sees through him; he only wants erotic reading material, so her report concentrates on her erotic adventures. This is what we see for the rest of the film. In all her dealings with men she has the upper hand. In school she tricked a teacher into thinking she wanted sex with him, but she merely took photos of him when he was naked and ran away. She seduced a homosexual man, not allowing him to say No to her. "It's only friction. Close your eyes and pretend I'm a man". She out-smarted her village's mayor, catching him in his underwear. Whatever Senta wants Senta gets.

Senta Vukovic is played by Ulrike Butz, described on the poster above as the Queen of Sexploitation Films. Her career only lasted two years, from 1972 to 1974, but she made 28 glorious films which have enshrined her as an icon of German cinema.

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