Straub-Huillet’s adaptation of Heinrich Böll’s biting satire Bonn Diary presents the reflections of a reactivated officer who is summoned to the West German capital by the Ministry of Defense to establish an Academy for Military Memories. Straub considered his film to be an intervention against German rearmament in the Adenauer era: “Machorka-Muff is the story of a rape, the rape of a country on which an army has been imposed, a country which would have been happier without one.”
In “Machorka-Muff,” Mr. Straub, employing the cold, somewhat expressionistic but always loquacious approach of his other films, comes closest to underlining the almost subliminal irony of his themes. He briefly outlines, through the performance of Colonel Machorka-Muff, a former Nazi who is reinstated in the Adenauer regime, the unchanging thinking of the Nazi and/or the military mind. As the colonel of the title, Dr. Johannes Eckhardt is properly cold and convincing as the believer in the rights of the soldier. Although it is the shortest and earliest of Mr. Straub’s films, it is both the most lucid of his works and the most clearly indicative of his potential as an imaginative filmmaker.