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Music

Lou Reed’s Berlin (2008) Dir Julian Schnabel Hull Screen

A young woman takes a painful journey into her past and discovers the darkest sides to humanity….

 

To say this is a “difficult” record is like saying Lou Reed himself is a complex character, i.e. a statement of the bleedin obvious.

 

It really is an album suited to what Carl Jung describes as the “second adolescence”, when we have had our kids and are realistically very much embarking on second part of our lives where hopefully we are more reflective, mature, tolerant and have a greater understanding of the more existential stuff. Why we are here, what we hope to achieve for ourselves and more importantly for our fellow travellers in this life.

 

Thus at 19 I had no clue as to what this record was trying to say, perhaps because I was blinded by what I considered to be certainties, self evident truths, those of Socialism and Reason which were discussed long into the night over endless cups of coffee, beer and fags.

 

This sort of academic, University based introversion is crucial in personal development as you test your beliefs and values in an environment where if you make mistakes it doesn’t really matter and I truly reckon that I came out the other end a person who was ready to get down and dirty in the so called real world from a position of having mulled over some important issues to do with meaning and purpose.

 

Thus my core values and belief systems (that we do stuff much better together than on our own) were put in place and then I had to figure out how to make that work for the betterment of Society through my teaching career and the Labour Party. The “real” world if you like. Pragmatism. Putting these values into action in a modern context.

 

My Father in Law played a huge part in this. He was very interested in my job and what we were trying to do in the Labour Party and his emphasis on getting the relationships right before the political theory was totally spot on.

 

We argued like mad about the philosophical direction of the Left, and I couldn’t get my head around why he voted for Blair in the 1994 Leadership election but the idea of Principles Without Power Are Futile was his mantra. Rightly.

 

Look what we’ve done. If we had done it the Hard Left way we would be theoretically pure but the Country as a whole be wrecked beyond repair.

 

That’s why the dawn of 2nd May 1997 meant so much to us…

 

The point is that Berlin is the perfect exposition of the visceral, horrible and brutal side of the unfettered, misogynistic and hate filled economic system that is Capitalism.

 

Caroline’s miserable life and experiences put me in mind of Ken Loach’s films put to music, especially Cathy Come Home and 2006’s C4 masterpiece It’s a Free World where we see just what men are capable of and how Society is completely run against the interests of women.

 

But it’s the acceptance of her lot that is the most depressing but resonant truth of this record. Losing the will to fight. It only happened to me twice. Once on Donny Station in July 1987 and again during the worst ravages of my treatment in December last year. It’s indescribable. Horrible in retrospect, it the realisation on the way back that’s the killer feeling as, at the time you actually feel quite calm and almost elated. “The Bed” from this record best articulates this.

 

If you want to understand the hidden truths of our world, and maybe find something out about yourself in the meantime then buy this record.

 

Rich and I saw this show in Nottingham and the film is a good representation of the experience, particularly as there are no audience shots. Rock crowds are ugly, overwhelmingly male, and sad. We don’t need to see ourselves ta very much.

 

 Hull Screen is rapidly unravelling due to the Council’s lack of will meaning a grand total of thirteen people saw the three screenings of this picture. The film selection has been poor of late, which doesn’t help; Norwegian Eskimo Basket Weaving docs ain’t going to pay the bills, and the environment of a lecture theatre is both hot and uncomfortable, plus the sound is poor. Sort it or lose it.

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About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.

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