Review: Warriors of Chaos-Chaostage (2009)


Director: Tarek Ehlail | 90 minutes | drama, comedy, documentary, history | Actors: Christoph Letkowski, Henriette Müller, Ulrich Fassnacht, Christian Beuter, Claude-Oliver Rudolph, Stipe Erceg, Dona von Maydell, Alexander Faulhaber, Danny Deyer, Alexander George, Fichli Bittman, Ralf Richter, Dorothea Hagena, Martin Semmelrogge, Sabine von Maydell , Uwe Fellensiek, Helge Schneider, Rolf Zacher

“Warriors of Chaos” is a “sequence of senseless violence and sex scenes,” according to the German film approval. The makers don’t seem to care. They proudly use this judgment as a welcome text on their website and after seeing the film you will understand why. Sex and violence is the order of the day and it is surprising that they still had time to include a storyline and some interviews in the film.

Storyline and interviews do you think? Yes, because “Warriors of Chaos” is an explosive mix of feature film, documentary and book adaptation in one. How that works? By simply mixing fact and fiction together, of course! The feature film portion tells the story of the book “Chaostage” by Moses Arndt. Although this is a fictional story, it does take its inspiration from reality. The so-called Chaostage refers to an ‘event’ (and that is already a big word) where large groups of punks come together in German cities every year, where it actually every time ends in fights between punks, skinheads and police, if not yet some other groups that also want to participate. In the documentary part, people from the German punk scene, mostly musicians, talk about their experiences during these chaotic days. The trick, however, lies in the fact that the interviewees talk about the people from the film as if they really existed and so it seems as if the feature film part is a film adaptation of their story.

A complicated construction indeed, which at first also causes some confusion. After all, the interviewees look back in time and talk about events from the 80s and 90s, while the feature film is simply set in the present. Moreover, the interviewees are not part of the story, but only seem to know the people involved. It is not entirely clear what exactly the added value of this is, because as a viewer you quickly realize that fact and fiction are intertwined here. The filmmakers apparently wanted too much at once and saw this setup as a great opportunity to make all of that possible in a single film. On the one hand it contributes to the chaos that they also wanted to make tangible within the film, on the other hand it unfortunately ensures that both feature film and documentary do not come to their fullest justice.
Although it is constantly insisted that punk does not follow any rules, but only knows the chaos of the moment, the characters in the feature film still feel unfinished. Side tracks are cited, which are then never used. For example, protagonist Mitch, who shoots two police officers, is said to have always had “strange destruction fantasies”, but we never get to hear about this again. The suicidal Didi is said to be depressed, but we don’t get to see much more than a little heartbreak, so his suicide seems rather illogical.

Within the documentary part, people also miss some depth, because they actually do not go into the ideology of the punk movement. The directors content themselves with the infectious stories about drinking beer and breaking things, but fail to ask any further. The idealistic content of the Chaostage is controversial, because there is also doubt within left-radical circles about the usefulness of this event, but it is still a shame to decide to leave out this aspect of it. Certainly, because some of the interviewees do see hints and punk as a form of social criticism.

So what we mainly get to see are a lot of disturbances, in which quite a lot is swamped, vomited and fought and the whole thing mainly looks like a joke that got out of hand. A more profound theme lurks beneath the surface, which is not fully exploited and which could have given the film more say. However, as Karl Nagel, champion of the Chaostage and propagandist first class, says: “every message is about strength and persuasion”. That’s why Nagel also measures himself a Hitler mustache halfway through the film. It turns out to be an image that is typical of the film, because although the theme is not worked out completely satisfactorily, the film does manage to hold the viewer’s attention by treating them to a “sequence of senseless violence and sex scenes”. Was the film approval right …

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