In Hick’s Last Stand we witness yet another incarnation of a Last Bavarian Mohican, incoherently staggering across the badlands of South Dakota and Wyoming in white cowboy boots, black leather jacket, and a feather on his hat. Without dialogue, without other players besides Herbert Achternbusch, and with the most minimal narrative progression, the film consists only of an image track over which we hear Hick’s extended monologue, a declaration of love to the absent Mary, occasionally interrupted by songs by Judy Garland, Native American chants, and classical music. Here Achternbusch’s fear of filmically subjugating other countries or people finds its most radical expression: a jerky camera captures endless images of passing trucks, empty landscapes, abandoned houses; frequent zooms and out-of-focus shots suggest the work of a hobby filmer, as does the grainy quality of the image that appears to be blown-up super-eight material. (The credits list Herbert Achternbusch as partly responsible for the camerawork.) This is Indian territory, Hick’s voice reminds us, but, except for a furtive look at a Pow Wow, the natives are absent. “People who cannot endure injustice, will not survive,” he explains. —Gerd Gemündungen
Herbert Achternbusch, born November 23, 1938, in Munich, wanted to become a painter and poet after finishing secondary school. But from 1960 to 1962, he consecutively studied at Pädagogische Hochschule München-Pasing, at Nuremberg’s Kunstakademie, and for three semesters at Munich’s Akademie der Bildenden Künste instead. Then, from 1962 on, Achternbusch worked in several jobs before colleagues and friends such as Martin Walser advised him to become a writer rather than a painter.
In 1969, Suhrkamp published “Hülle”, a collection of stories, Achternbusch’s first publication of meanwhile more than 50 books. Shortly after the publication, Achternbusch started to make films on substandard film and became part of the German auteur film scene. Achternbusch then played parts in films by Werner Herzog and Volker Schlöndorff and wrote the screen play to Herzog’s Herz aus Glas (Heart of Glass). —filmportal.de