There’s a moment at the beginning of Feuer Frei when Till Lindemann sticks out his tongue, and it’s forked like a snake’s. It flashes by so quickly, almost subliminally, to the point where you wonder if you saw it at all. This is Jonas Åkerlund’s unique vision of a Rammstein show.
Filmed during two nights at the Bercy Arena, Paris, in 2012, he uses 35 cameras to capture the spectacle of their concerts, but subtly plays with our perceptions to heighten the experience. Overlaid images flash up. Cuts confuse. Slow-motion enhances emotion. It is utterly unlike any other normal live recording.
Jonas sets the stage for Rammstein: Paris with some drama. As the band parade through the crowd, drummer Christophe holding a flaming torch aloft, the camera switches between this reality and the static, black-andwhite hues associated with grainy CCTV footage. It’s ominous, and disorientating. Controversially, wide shots of the roaring crowd bring to mind old films of Nazi rallies – though it’s worth remembering the band have repeatedly aligned themselves with left-wing views. He also enhances the visceral action onstage. When Sonne kicks in, the fast cutting mimics the grinding rhythm, and the flames make the screen white out for a second. The grotesque pantomime of Mein Teil takes on a new physicality close up, as we see Till’s hands sharpening a pair of blades, and his bloodied mouth twisting into a crimson leer before he cooks keyboardist Flake in a pot. And oh, those close-ups. There’s nothing like seeing Flake’s arse cheeks during Buch Dich, as Till spits on his hand, applies it as lube, and pretends to do him up the bum. It’s one thing to see the performance from a distance, and another to have the perverted action shoved unflinchingly into your face. Either way, the BBFC warning of ‘Strong Sex References’ is definitely not a lie.
Unsurprisingly, there’s also loads of playful humour from the man who shot the video for Pussy. That song’s title appears as a splodge of cum onscreen, and he mounts a camera on Till’s giant spunking cock, so it looks like a ridiculous point-of-view shot from an adult movie. Mann Gegen Mann is a trippy WTF moment, where a psychedelic pink kaleidoscope effect makes multiple Tills appear onscreen, as keyboardist Flake dances around nearby, like a delusion from a fever dream. During Du Hast, lightning bolts appear from Flake’s fancy fingerwork. The standout moment of the whole film, however, is an expressive Mutter. Sparks rain down on Till’s face in slow-motion, as he sings with his head bowed and eyes closed, while the music builds to a crescendo. It is beautiful, and shows the poetic side of the man and the band that exist beneath the volume. Full of left turns and loud euphoria, Jonas turns Rammstein’s carnival of the bizarre into something even more sublime and ridiculous. A warped work of art.