Hair Piece

Last night YouTube suggested I watch a new short, Cognitio. I reCOGNIzed one of the actors as having appeared in the 2014 Kadie Elder promo for the song “First Time He Kissed a Boy” (from which I lifted this blog’s header image of four pastel-clad youths). The actor is Lasse Steen Jensen and in the promo he plays a slight thing with an almost-mod mop of hearty hair atop a triangular, angular mug, contradicted by an upturned nose; likewise in the promo, his cruelty is contradicted by his curiosity.

In Cognitio Jensen is presented as the psychically slight, artistically bright Tobias, with an unruly mane that suggests a feral nature. This time curiosity is not rewarded, via the darkly seductive yet elusive Emil (Lior David Cohen).

Consulting IMDB I found that Jensen had collaborated on the writing of, as well as acting in, 2017’s Vi Er Okay Nu (We Are Okay Now) whereby his character Jonnah is shocking, as the shock-sheaves of his platinum coif and shirt contrast with his thick Jayne Mansfield brows. He’s drunk, sprawled on the lawn, cajoled into leaving a party by best friend Demitri (Peter Ousager). But before arising he suggests that they holiday in Germany at a resort with a reputation: Prora.

Jonnah (full name Jonathan) awkwardly, boozily tells Dimitri the story of Prora, which was to be a monument to the Nazis’ social calling card, Kraft durch Freude (Strength through Joy), a cross-class cultural program to provide leisure activities on the one hand, brought to you by the purveyors of National Socialism on the other. While KdF succeeded during the 1930s in boosting tourism, which had languished in the post-war ’20s, the Prora resort—an award-winning design for 20,000 beds in buildings three miles long fronting the white sands of the Baltic’s Rügen Island—never was completed, due to the start of the new war. A shell of the structure remains to this day and, due to its landmark status, has obtained the interest of artists, hoteliers, and others.

I suppose Prora can be seen as a metaphor for Jonnah’s own trauma and reconstruction, hinted at by the title of We Are Okay Now. But I can’t help but think that his resort reverie (and more), was inspired by the 2012 short film, Prora, made by Swiss writer and director Stéphane Riethauser, set in the actual resort’s wrecked rooms and hacked hallways (even if its history isn’t well exposed in the script). Both films have a fair-haired, gay character—Jonnah to Prora‘s Jan (Tom Gramenz, a double for Petteri Paavola from the goofy Finnish soap opera Salatut elämät aka Secret Lives aka Elias’ story)—and a dark-haired companion trying to make sense of it all—Demitri to Prora‘s Matthieu (Swen Gippa). The tension in We Are Okay Now is somewhat mirrored by Prora‘s German and French protagonists—making love and waging war at a site that was conceived as a level “playing” field.

Watch. Relish the recognizable reticence and resistance, resilience and release—if not relief—in all these characters. Cognitio.

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