New York

“Fury Is A Feeling Too,” written and directed by Cynthia Beatt

Collective For Living Cinema

Fury Is a Feeling Too, 1983, is a film about the mouth and eyes of a foreigner. The mouth must re-form itself by embracing new sounds and sometimes uncomfortable modulations. The eyes view apparently familiar social phyla which on closer inspection disclose specifically different national histories. It is this position of “foreigner” that Cynthia Beatt seems to occupy. A British subject born in Kingston, Jamaica, she lived in the Fiji Islands, was raised in England, and moved to Berlin in 1975. Fury Is a Feeling Too, which she directed, wrote, and appears in, is a semiautobiographical encapsulation of her relationship to Germany—a sort of cranky, witty, intellectually astute rendition of a Frommer’s Guide replete with architectural treats and warnings about the unwieldy temperaments of the natives. Exterior shots meander up and down buildings with a choppy glance which traipses around design details and juts up to the crisp demarcation that announces the meeting of structure and sky. Reminded that “a house is a text through which one may read another era,” we consider not only the specificities and romantic rigor of German design, but also the way it defines Berlin’s difference from other European cities and how the city itself has become a bifurcated amalgam of two economic and social regimes.

Beatt’s interior shots show us various conversational arrangements, from rhythmic soliloquies to anecdotal duets to aggravated triangulations, all attesting to certain stereotypical assumptions about German life. A man in a bar bemoans the presence of the Turks. A woman complains about the meanness of a saleslady who seemed to be saying to her, “How dare you ask for a moss green bathrobe!”. All this seems indicative of an intolerant society: “A country where a spot on your jacket is worse than a world war,” where people are “satisfied with their sickness and heartlessness” and “justify nastiness to the bitter end.” Beatt also struggles with the intricacies of a language whose vernacular subtleties, like those of the culture in general, she either disdains or finds totally unavailable to her. She is contained by what she detests and mourns the loss of other structures and texts which she has called her own. Fury Is A Feeling Too delineates these divided sentiments about a divided city with clarity and economy, and joins the “first contact” of the foreigner with the “second nature” of the native.

Barbara Kruger