Order the summer edition here

Fear as entertainment

Scared Very Scared
Regissør: Jay Rosenblatt

Fear as entertainment sells and is a well-used Hollywood brand. Fear as entertainment within the socially critical political film, on the other hand, is in short supply.


Jay Rosenblatt admits that the anxiety and fear he experiences in Trump's United States is such that he either had to go to therapy or make a movie. The result was Scared Very Scared, a seven-minute short film that will premiere during the 70 Anniversary of the Leipzig Documentary Film Festival in association with Jay Rosenblatt Retrospective Homage.

Double dose. The filmmaker Rosenblatt fails to thrive. He looks through archival material until he finds his slightly camouflaged alter ego in an older teaching film. An indignant Jewish-looking psychiatrist gives advice on patient management. It is a chosen frame narrative that points directly at itself. In addition to the more famous terms "provocateur" and "film artist", Rosenblatt is also a psychiatrist. Put in context, the choice of position as a medical expert gives a clue to the interpretation key. The grip also provides a completely different sublime quality and a much more catchy space for reflection than similar films dealing with Trump's America.

A misguided United States. Dr. Rosenblatt is fond of using metaphors. He leaves little doubt as to who the patient represents – vulnerable, anxious women and boy children who are dogged or do not dare to speak. A powerful boy holds a damper down with a larynx. The little one: "I'll do anything!" The bully loosens the grip with the famous words "You're on my side!"

The chosen narrative is an indignant Jewish-looking psychiatrist who provides advice on patient management.

Back to the expert who constantly comments on how wrongly treated the afflicted patient is by the smooth doctor. At the same time, Rosenblatt takes the time to build the film subtly. The Medical Council is learning how to relax more. According to the teaching film, this is useless help – a personality change is impossible. Pain is there to warn us of what hurts us before the scale becomes too severe. The statement is illustrated with pebbles taken out of a shoe. The patient is at the breaking point, but only wants help to return to his formerly energetic self.

Worst-case scenario. Marching, flag-carrying Americans who pay tribute to Trump are cross-cut with footage of Hitler's young Nazis before World War II. Nixon has just leaned forward towards the mic-
quietly and jovially revealing that an accused politician ignores or denies everything and makes sure to stay away from the arrest. Reagan is sworn to the tribute of a people's sea; clip commentator who says there are no limits to what a man with such range can achieve.

The Ku Klux Klan is also marching. The main focus is on the children among them. I myself have not seen recordings with children members of the Ku Klux Klan before. I'm shaken. The narrator voice messes up and draws me on: "America was built on a gun."

The film grip provides a completely different sublime quality, a much more catchy space for reflection than similar films about Trump's America.

The order of this black and white short film does not seem pointless. Is it elaborate enough? A couple of my late-night movie and literature-swallowing friends get a quick look. Both miss a tighter start and tighter approach. Right on the Hitler greeting accompanied by waving with American flags in the beginning is more to their liking. At the same time, people like me are entertained.

My 11-year-old daughter is thrilled. Especially over the richness and variety of archive material. Rosenblatt is a master at using this type of material, on which he bases all his films. He knows how to exploit the familial reverberation of this material. Recently, he was honored with the prestigious honorary award at the Camer-Image festival in Poland.

What is the director's actual agenda this time? Does this type of film get too fast in the one-dimensional booth where the narrative becomes too simple?

Many have thanked Trump for having his presidency reactivated art that corresponds to a situation many find unsustainable. Art has again become important. Many will say something. How to get something that becomes more than a day-fly comment or political pamphlet?

The Usual Suspects. Rosenblatt masterfully weaves the several teams together. Yes, he is tempted to go through some standard themes. The regular charges against the counterpart in this type of film are stereotypes, which do not surprise or make people change their positions. Many will go so far as to say there are works made for the congregation. What does it take to get involved?

Kindergarten children have built a wall of cardboard boxes; you can't come in – "Go away!" The words get a new, more scratchy tone. Kids in the situation provide an unusually engaging prick. Fine hair tends to Rosenblatt flatness. The use of female and male genitalia from another educational film is elegant in its contextual position. The commentator says that there is no indication that this sensitive topic needs to be explored at the current time. This use of cunning humor as a kick to the many and constant vulgarisms of Trump is liberating. Humor is never far away.

But Rosenblatt will not let us rest in it. He suddenly pulls us back to violence and turmoil. A scene allows us to see a small child who gets help from his father to put on boxing gloves. The next moment the child is brutally beaten by the same father. A furnished home is invaded by shooting Nazis. But it's not the obvious gripes described above that catch me – it's the doctor's patronizing attitude toward the patient that does. Not only does the physician systematically mislead and destroy all confidence, but also the patient's potential for healing self-narrative. The choice of this material is summarized. The pure and uninterrupted self-narrative is therapeutic. It is in this essence of the film lies.

Rosenblatt has created a work larger than a political pamphlet – a work that dares to work far deeper, a mini-epic about what's going on in America's psyche, regardless of regime. Rosenblatt got her through the cultural heritage, via archival material. The story has become complete.


Ellen Lande
Ellen Lande
Lande is a film writer and director and a regular writer for Ny Tid.

You may also like