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Bavaria, the 1980's: One beautiful day, Jesus (Herbert Achternbusch),
having fallen for the Mother Superior (Annamirl Bierbichler) of the
convent he's hanging at, decides to step down from his cross to spend his
life with her ... he figures they are husband and wife anyways since nuns
are called the brides of the Lord, right?
The Mother Superior is quite
flattered because she's in love with him as well, but figures they can't
live together as Jesus and nun, so, since the German word for Mother
Superior is Oberin, she makes him his Ober (German word for
waiter) and has him work in the nunnery's bar.
Jesus does his best to be
a good waiter, but when two policemen (Kurt Raab, Dietmar Schneider) order
two glasses full of shit, Jesus accidently makes them shooting each other.
Superior and Jesus try to live with each other, but that's easier said
than done, due to her vow of chastity and his total ignorance of human
sexuality. Eventually, their money runs out and they decide to seperate to
make it on their own, but when Jesus' naivity messes up the married life
of a salesman (Franz Baumgartner) and his wife (Gabi Geist), who cheats on
him with a priest
(Alois Hitzenbichler), he gets so confused he turns into a snake and lacks
the power to turn back.
Ultimately, Mother Superior finds Jesus in his
snake-state and tries to turn into one as well, to finally be able to live
with him as equal partner ... but instead turns into a bird of prey.
it's release, this little Jesus-comedy caused quite a scandal in
director/writer/star Herbert Achternbusch's native Bavaria, the one
Catholic county in Protestant Germany - and this scandal did nothing but
give the film some extra publicity it wouldn't have gotten otherwise.
was the scandal justified?
Not really. Das Gespenst is a satire
less about Jesus himself - played as a naive and phlegmatic but loveable
Achternbusch - than about religion and the public's perception of religion
That said, is Das Gespenst a good film?
really enjoy the movie you have to be in a certain Bavarian state of mind,
the comedy of the film isn't your typical laugh-a-ton but a weird, at
times surreal blend of various kinds of humour from fart jokes to
philosophical allusions, and Achternbusch refuses to favour one over the
other. And the film's carefully orchestrated long takes and static camera
set-ups give the film an extra dimension (not only aesthetically) that
your typical slick comedy usually lacks, making this a weird, slightly
That said, Das Gespenst
is by no means perfect, but if you look beyond its scandalous layer and
have a little patience, you will find it quite an interesting movie.