Fitna, amateur-like and clumsy

Can you write about ”Fitna” as a film? Can you separate it from all the furore the film has already created due to its content and the fear for consequences? Can you do so with a film everyone talked about before it was made… A 16 minutes long film that is now being talked about in all media as more than 3 millions have watched it on the internet?

Probably not. Nevertheless let me try to be laid back and watch it as a film by Geert Wilders, a politician who chose the film medium to communicate his opinions. But who has a filmmaker to help him, with a very interesting name:

According to the credits of the film, it is the idea of Wilders, which has been made into a film in collaboration with a professional film maker, who has chosen to call himself ”Scarlet Pimpernel”. He made the direction and the editing. Anonymous… Scarlet Pimpernel,  “they seek him here they seek him there…” as it was said when Leslie Howard played the role in the film with the same title.

Wilders message is conveyed as a propaganda film that has borrowed language from the commercials and communicates through extremely strong visual archive material: The terror images from the NY twin towers in 2001, the train bombing in Madrid, the bombs in London and the killings in Somalia. We see burnt corpses, we hear terrible screams and cries, we know these images and sounds as we know the videos of a beheading and the stoning of a woman at a stadium in Afghanistan. The film wants to scare us. Violence after violence scene.

The images are taken out of their original contexts to be connected to texts from the Quran and mixed with quotes from fanatic bearded religious men, who talk to the muslims of the world. Relevant? Obviously found effective by the Scarlet Pimpernel. The Jews are according to several quotes from Muslim leaders to blame for everything. A little girl says that Jews are apes and pigs. She knows it from the Quran. Voila!

The purpose of a propaganda film is to convince, send a strong message and mobilise to protest. To reach that goal the film uses a strong music score from Grieg to influence us emotionally of the fearful world we live in, because the muslims want to conquer the world, as another chapter communicates.

The texture of the film is graphic. The archive material emerges from, sort of ”comes out” of the pages of the Quran, as do the faces and figures of all the religious leaders.

Its’s done very amateur-like and clumsy, as is the structure of the film, where Scarlet Pimpernel suddenly goes from ”the world” to show us ”what the muslims have done and will do with the Netherlands”. Two films in the same so to say.

The Danish Mohammed cartoon starts and closes the film. At the end the ticking bomb explodes on the head of Mohammed… according to the sound track and to some school film images of thunder and the world that goes under!

Wilders and the Scarlet Pimpernel have chosen to talk in headlines with pure exaggerations. They have chosen the form of a propaganda film, but without any elegance and intelligence and without any willingness to make the viewer reflect. The conclusions are clear from the very start. It’s all very bombastically performed.

Was this a “normal” film review? Of a film that has an enormously hateful purpose. No, not a review, I can give no pens. Is it basically a film, or a political promotion to achieve more than the already too many votes that Wilders have in the Netherlands?

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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