Saturday, 3 December 2016

Die Kirche bleibt im Dorf (5 Stars)

"The church remains in the village". That's the title of this film that has become a cultural phenomenon. After its surprise success in 2012 a TV series followed that ran from 2013 to 2015. Then a sequel was made in 2015, and it's been announced that after taking a break this year the fourth season of the TV series will be broadcast next year.

The Swabians are a strange people. They populate an area in south Germany that covers most of southern Württemberg and part of Bavaria. The largest city in Swabia is Stuttgart. Augsburg claims to be the capital of Swabia. The Swabians in Stuttgart deny this, while people from other parts of Swabia are undecided. Despite the close proximity the dialects are very different. Swabian German borrows words from French that aren't used in Bavarian or any other parts of Germany. For instance, the normal German word for pavement is Bürgersteig, but the Swabians say Trottwar. Germans from other regions say Swabian sounds vulgar, but I can't comment on it, because I've lived in Swabia long enough to take the dialect for granted.

The Swabians are well known for eating pasta, especially the regional variety called Spätzle. A typical Swabian meal consists of meat, Spätzle and salad. Vegetables are eaten less often. Potatoes are usually only eaten cold as part of a potato salad.

The Swabian dialect is also famous for its large amount of swear words. It's claimed that you can use a different word to insult someone every day of the year. In this scene from the film the farmer Elisabeth calls the mayor a "hinterfotziger Allmachtsdackl". I understand what's meant by it, but it's impossible to translate. "Hinterfotzig" is a combination of the words "hinterlistig" (devious) and "Fotze" (cunt). "Dackel" means a Dachshund, but in Swabian it's spelt "Dackl" and refers to any small dog. It also means idiot, and it sounds particularly rude when combined with a prefix like "Halb-" (half) or "Allmachts-" (almighty).

Probably the most common swear word in Swabian German is "Heidenei" (heathen's testicle). Other common expressions are "Heilandsack" (a blend of "saviour's sacrament" and "scrotum") and "Hafelesgucka" (curious, suggesting someone is examining your faeces).

"Die Kirche bleibt im Dorf" is a scaled down version of "A Tale of two Cities". It's about the two villages Unterrieslingen and Oberrieslingen. The two villages have hated one another for hundreds of years, and nobody knows why. The trouble is that the church is in Oberrieslingen and the cemetery is in Unterrieslingen. Swabians are religious people, especially in the small villages, so the people of Unterrieslingen are forced to visit their neighbours on Sunday. And of course, the people of Oberrieslingen need to be buried somewhere. The church's priest is caught in the middle, but he doesn't mind as long as he can drink the local wine.

When an American millionaire visits Oberrieslingen and offers to pay 10 million Euros for it a war breaks out. Since they can no longer use the church, the residents of Unterrieslingen say their neighbours can't use their cemetery any more. They begin to dig up the coffins and send them back.

This is a hilarious film. It was originally made by Swabians for Swabians, but now it's popular throughout Germany. Everyone wants to laugh at the Swabians.

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