Last week, I had a weird time at the movies. There really is no other way to qualify it. The University shows films every Monday night in a campus auditorium for a small entry fee. A friend of mine from German class invited me to go with her. I had heard about this movie, Die Feuerzangenbowle, since it is a cult German film that is shown around Christmas time. It seemed like a good opportunity to finally check out the student film program…but we really had no idea what we were in for.
First of all – and I have no idea if this happens every time that they show a movie, or just around Christmas time, or just before this movie – but there were a few group drinking games. For the university students. In the state-funded auditorium. I realize that this is completely legal and fine in Germany, but keep in mind that I’m American, so this was a lot to take in. To punctuate this experience, someone won a bottle of champagne and opened it just before the movie started, and I got hit by the cork. Take that, America and your drinking rules! After they finished playing “chug the Glühwein,” “find the champagne bottle” and “take out the unsuspecting American with a turbo-powered cork,” the movie started.
Despite the fact that we couldn’t understand most of the words, (a fact I’ll attribute to a 1944-quality sound mix and not my poor German, ahem) it was still an enjoyable movie. I kind of want to try it again mit Untertiteln. And without all of the audience participation. The other thing that we didn’t know is that it’s sort of a tamer Rocky Horror Picture Show (German link) - for example, the audience lights up sparklers when the characters do. There are other moments that they may or may not have been participating in, but the one that sticks in my mind is when I realized that we were sitting in an auditorium with hundreds of buzzed German students who were lighting things on fire. In the great spirit of “you just have to know,” I have no idea where the sparklers even came from.