Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Die Delegation

Die Delegation; mockumentary, Germany / France / Italy, 1970; D: Reiner Erler, S: Walter Kohut, Hans Häckermann, Stephan Orlac

Reporter Will Roczinski died in a mysterious car crash. A TV host presents the last of Roczinski's footage to the audience: the reporter was fascinated with UFO sightings and made several trips to research the topic - a UFO conference; a trip to New York where military officials inform him that UFOs can be dismissed, while a psychiatrist presents his opinion to the contrary; a trip to Canada, where a farmer shows him photos of a bunch of UFOs over his farm... He gets a small glass pyramid as a present, which is supposedly of alien origin, and then interviews astronomers about alien signals. Finally, he goes to investigate the Nazca lines, where his cameraman dies on a hill. Roczinski also interviews a man in a monastery, who claims that aliens are disappointed that humans "made technical progress, but no spiritual progress", as they are still agressive.

One of the earliest examples of the mockumentary (and 'found-footage') genre, "Die Delegation" is not at the same time one of the best contributions to it. It takes an interesting topic of a TV reporter investigating UFO sightings, but instead of turning into a suspenseful and gripping puzzle while the viewers are slowly presented with archive footage of his TV interviews, it stays as a placid, lukewarm essay - that consists out of pretty much identical, never ending clips of the hero endlessly chasing ghosts from Germany, through the US up to South America - yet failing to discover anything decisive, which ultimately becomes monotone after and a while. As all these traces lead nowhere, no true sense of a bigger picture nearing its conclusion is built, and the running time of 125 minutes is indeed overstretched, though some small crumbs of humor or unusual situations manage to 'twitch' the storyline from its grey mood, such as the interview with a man on a UFO conference who claims that UFOs were observing the situation during World War I and II and "directing the course of events", which is later contrasted with an ironic interview with an army official, who wonders why a superior civilisation would waste their time spying on such primitive and aggressive species like the humans, as well as the comical moment when the hero and his camera crew is pushed out of a Bronx apartment.


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