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Cultural Heritage Ethics

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Constantine Sandis

III. Ownership and Restitution

9. Fear of Cultural Objects

Tom Flynn

Texte intégral

  • 1 Bruno Decarli as Count Greven, Furcht, directed by Robert Wiene, 1917.

The terrible Buddha priests want their revenge! They seek me and they will also find me! There is no escape from their secret power!1

1This paper seeks to read some of the current disputes about the collecting of cultural heritage through an analysis of Furcht (Fear). This little-known silent film of 1917 by the German director Robert Wiene (1873-1938), who went on to make The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920), is regarded as one of the most influential examples of German expressionist cinema. In Fear, a wealthy German Count returns home from India with a statuette he has stolen from a temple and thereafter gradually descends into a state of guilt-ridden paranoia over his acquisition.

  • 2 S. Kracauer, From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film (Princeton, NJ: Pr (...)
  • 3 Ibid., p. 88.

2The fear to which the title refers is ostensibly generated by the repercussions flowing from the Count’s illicit acquisition of the statue and the fear of his own imminent death, foretold by a phantom Buddhist priest who visits his home. The relationship between the collector and the mysterious representative of the source community from which the object was removed echoes the encounter between powerful European nations and the peoples and communities they subordinated during the colonial era. The film also works on a psychological level, expressing the ‘deep and fearful concern with the foundations of the self’ that has been identified as a core preoccupation of early twentieth-century German cinema.2 As Siegfried Kracauer has suggested, the political circumstances of the period immediately after the First World War prompted the contemporaneous imagination towards the ancient concept of Fate – ‘Doom, decreed by an inexorable Fate was not mere accident but a majestic event that stirred metaphysical shudders in sufferers and witnesses alike’.3

  • 4 A. Kaes, Shell Shock Cinema: Weimar Culture and the Wounds of War (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univers (...)
  • 5 Kaes, 2009, p. 2.

3Released in 1917, just prior to the German Revolution and the establishment of the Weimar Republic, Wiene’s narrative, played out in the film through the experiences of the wealthy collector, might also be interpreted as prefiguring Germany’s surrendering of its colonies that became a condition of the Treaty of Versailles. Fear, I suggest, can thus be read as a symbolic enactment within the cultural sphere of the castration anxiety articulated almost contemporaneously by Freud. It might also stand as an early example of what Anton Kaes has described as ‘shell shock cinema’– films that ‘evoke fear of invasion and injury, and exude a sense of paranoia and panic’.4 Wiene’s own Dr Caligari remains one of the pivotal examples of this sub-genre, and while Fear may not partake of the ‘fragmented story lines, distorted perspectives… abrupt editing and sharp lighting’ that Kaes identifies as the defining characteristics of shell shock cinema between 1918 and 1933, the film does rehearse another of that category’s core preoccupations. The soldier’s return from the front in a psychologically altered state from that in which he left – ‘he has come home, but the war has come with him’5 – is a theme mirrored in the plight of Fear’s Count Greven who returns from his travels psychologically disturbed, or as the intertitle has it: ‘Two years ago a happy cheerful man went abroad – and what sort of man came home?’

4While these aspects of film history and film criticism are fruitful routes into an appreciative understanding of Fear, I want instead to focus here on the film’s frame story about the acquisition and collection of cultural objects. Wiene’s ambiguous treatment of fear also provides a lens through which to read the ideologically loaded discourses that cluster around cultural heritage issues today. It is an unusual theme for a film of that period and in a sense we might see it as the venerable initiator of a cinematic ‘cultural heritage’ category that embraces everything from Chadi Abdel Salam’s thoughtful Al Mummia (The Night of Counting the Days) of 1969, and Jules Dassin’s heist caper Topkapi (1964), to the popular Indiana Jones and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider franchises.

  • 6 T. -L. Williams, ‘Cultural Perpetuation: Repatriation of First Nations Cultural Heritage’, Universi (...)

5Vestiges of the anxiety dramatised in Fear can still be detected today in attitudes expressed towards the ‘encyclopaedic’ museums of Europe and North America by source nations seeking to recover objects appropriated during the era of colonial conquest. Conversely, the combative positions adopted by some museum directors in their attempts to ward off repatriation requests appear to express another kind of anxiety – a fear of ‘the floodgates’ opening6 – leading to the wholesale denuding of museums and the loss of the reassuring material plenitude that is a legacy of Enlightenment-era collecting.

  • 7 S. Freud, ‘The Uncanny’(1919), in Art and Literature (London: Penguin, 1990).
  • 8 U. Jung and W. Schatzberg (eds.), Beyond Caligari: The Films of Robert Wiene (New York and Oxford: (...)

6Wiene’s film hinges on the overpowering sense of foreboding felt by a wealthy aristocrat whose acquisitive impulse has driven him to commit a cultural crime. Whether the emotions he manifests on arriving home with the statue are intended to signify tremors of colonial guilt, Wiene leaves the viewer to decide. Is the fear experienced by his protagonist a response to some genuine objective danger, or the delusions of a deranged mind – a real fear or a neurotic fear, to use Freud’s typology?7 Wiene’s father is said to have suffered from mental illness towards the end of his life,8 which has been considered a possible source of the psychological themes explored in his later Dr Caligari. Released in 1917, Fear provides an even earlier point of reference for those concerns.

***

7The film opens with the return to his ancestral home of the wealthy Count Greven (Bruno Decarli) from a ‘foreign journey of several years’. As his carriage pulls up outside the castle, numerous manservants are on hand to attend to his luggage. Once inside, the Count, visibly distraught, instructs his servants to lock all the doors and bolt all the gates to the estate, announcing: ‘I never want to see a strange face again!’ He makes his way upstairs to his private quarters, passing through rooms full of Chinese porcelain, Old Master paintings and antique furniture. Some moments later his servants enter, carrying a large rectangular wooden trunk he has brought back from his travels. After dismissing them, the Count furtively unlocks the trunk and removes a metal statue of a Buddhist deity, which he begins passionately to embrace, before returning it to the box and locking it. When night falls, the Count returns to the box, removes the statue and carries it to another room where he installs it on a pedestal in a specially designed niche behind a glass door concealed by a curtain.

8In the days that follow, the Count becomes increasingly agitated, skulking around his castle at night with a lighted candle, constantly looking over his shoulder, peering nervously out of the windows and into darkened recesses. Aware of his master’s mounting anxiety, the Count’s butler seeks help from the village minister, who offers to visit (we later learn he is the Count’s former teacher and mentor). The Count confides in the minister, telling him, ‘You know that I am driven by an unhappy passion for collecting rare works of art, which drove me into the world to see the most beautiful art objects’. He then reveals how, ‘one day, deep in the heart of India, I heard about the holy Buddha image in the Temple at Djaba, whose beauty made the sick well and the sad happy… I had to see it’.

9The film then cuts to a flashback in which the Count, dressed in full colonial regalia of pith helmet and white three-piece suit, is shown creeping stealthily into a temple interior where he eavesdrops on a ritual conducted by a Buddhist high priest (Conrad Veidt) involving a small statue. After the priest and his acolytes have left, the Count approaches the statue and swoons in front of it, before snatching it from its niche and departing. The priests return to the temple and are enraged to find their sacred object missing.

10Back in his castle, the Count tells the minister, ‘Since that day I have had no peace. The terrible Buddha priests want their revenge! They seek me and they will also find me! There is no escape from their secret power!’

Fig. 9.1 Count Greven shoots the Buddhist priest.

11That night, an exterior shot of the castle gardens reveals the Buddhist priest standing statue-like on the lawn, staring up at the Count’s window. Lying in bed, but suddenly aware of the proximity of a sinister presence, the Count rises and takes a pistol from under his pillow. From his window he sees the figure of the priest and in an agitated state proceeds out into the garden to confront him. Without entering into a dialogue with the man, the Count fires three shots. The priest remains standing, evidently unharmed, at which point the Count collapses before him and pleads to be put out of his misery: ‘Take my life! Death will be a release for me!’ The priest calmly shakes his head and replies:

Then I would take something of no value to you! Instead you must live and learn to love life. Then today seven years hence you will die at the hand of one who is dearest to you.

12Stricken with fear, the Count returns upstairs to the cabinet in which he has placed the statue and is unsettled to find pinned to the plinth a handwritten note confirming the curse – ‘Do not forget… today seven years hence!’ Seemingly reconciled to his fate, the Count decides to live life to the full, hosting elaborate soirées, gambling, drinking and dancing through the night with his friends. One evening, still troubled by his approaching death, he abruptly calls a halt to the partying. He banishes the revellers and thereafter embarks upon a series of scientific experiments in his basement laboratory. Yet even after discovering a means to convert nitrogen into protein – ‘which could do away with hunger in the world forever’– the Count smashes his scientific equipment and decides to divert his energies towards something new. This time it is love that preoccupies him. A romantic interlude ensues in which he woos a young woman (Mechtildis Thein), escorting her around the castle ramparts, frolicking with her beside the lake, enfolding her in passionate embraces. And yet, despite the ‘days full of sunshine and happiness’, the Count knows time is running out and soon plunges back into a state of near delirium. Convinced the statue is the source of his torment, he takes it to the lake and casts it into the water. On returning to the castle he is suddenly overcome by a dark intuition and approaches the cabinet, only to discover to his horror that the statue has mysteriously reappeared – ‘The suffering!’

Fig. 9.2 Count Greven encounters the ghostly face of the priest in his cellar.

13Fearing imminent death, the Count begins to perceive danger everywhere and even accuses his butler of poisoning his tea. He then enters his study to find his lover idly fondling a dagger. This reminds him of the curse – ‘The hand of the one who is dearest to you’. He promptly takes out his pistol and fires at her, but misses. ‘I hate the world!’ he declares. ‘I hate life! There is no hand that is dearest to me!’

14The camera now reveals the Buddhist priest has returned to the garden and is seated on the lawn in the lotus position, hands clasped over his breast, head bowed. Inside the castle, the Count descends to the cellar, gun in hand, where he begins to lurch about in suicidal panic. Finally, when the ghostly face of the Buddhist priest appears in the air before him, he slowly turns the gun towards his own heart and fires.

15In the closing sequence, a series of double-exposure shots convey the spectral image of the priest rising from the lawn and entering the castle.

16He climbs the stairs to the cabinet room, retrieves the statue and solemnly carries it away.

***

  • 9 P. Gay, Weimar Culture: The Outsider as Insider (London: Norton, 2001 [1968]), p. xiv.
  • 10 Jung and Schatzberg, 1999.
  • 11 P. Brantlinger, Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism, 1830-1914 (Ithaca, NY: Cornel (...)

17Rarely has the restitution of cultural property been so melodramatically enacted. While the film could be read as a symbol of the neurotic Weltanschauung of the German nation at the end of the war, it also comments on the psychology of colonial collecting. A closer examination of the film’s symbolism and narrative arc reinforces the relevance of both interpretations. The Weimar Republic, established a year after Fear was released, ushered in a cultural environment of what the historian Peter Gay has described as ‘exuberant creativity and experimentation’, and yet one tempered by ‘anxiety, fear and a rising sense of doom’.9 Wiene’s film mirrors these apparent cultural contradictions as Count Greven veers between irrational dread and the rational impulse towards scientific research (the village minister who comes to counsel him concludes: ‘You don’t need a priest, you need a doctor’.) Wiene had dealt with the idea of threatened rationality in a number of his films of this period.10 Fear might thus be seen as an example of what the cultural historian Richard Brantlinger has described as ‘Imperial Gothic’, a literary topos that ‘combines the seemingly scientific, progressive, often Darwinian ideology of imperialism with an antithetical interest in the occult’.11

Fig. 9.3 The spectral image of the Buddhist priest departs with the recovered statuette.

  • 12 See, for example, J. Cuno, Whose Muse? Art Museums and the Public Trust (Princeton, NJ: Princeton U (...)

18The ‘haunting’ of Count Greven provides a useful metaphor through which to explore more recent developments in the ‘culture wars’ between source nations and western collectors (be they so-called encyclopaedic museums or private individuals). Underpinning many of these disputes are various strains of fear. On the one hand, it is clear that some European and North American museum directors fear that the increasingly vocal and determined calls for repatriation of objects acquired during earlier eras – indeed still being acquired in 1917 at the time Robert Wiene directed Fear – could lead to a serious stripping-out of western museums.12 This was most clearly articulated in the ‘Declaration on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums’ issued by the Bizot Group of museum directors in 2002, which proved divisive and controversial within and beyond the international museum community.

  • 13 K. Singh, ‘Do we really want the freer circulation of cultural goods?’, The Art Newspaper, 192, Jun (...)

19The emotional response to rising demands for restitution of objects can be contrasted with the fear felt by some developing nations who interpret European and North American museums as tyrannical symbols of imperial greed. As Kavita Singh has noted, the knowledge that significant amounts of other nations’ cultural patrimony is languishing in the basements of these museums, much of it uncatalogued and neglected, has engendered a view of encyclopaedic museums as ‘terrifying places with insatiable appetites for works of art’.13

  • 14 K. P. H. Koentjaraningrat (ed.), Villages in Indonesia (Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta: Equinox Press, 2007 (...)

20Count Greven’s castle, with its grand salons brimming with Dutch Golden Age portraits, Imari vases, Indian sculptures and heavy antique furniture, might be seen as a symbol of the western museum complex. The Count, having admitted to an unquenchable desire to seek out the world’s most beautiful works of art, struggles to reconcile his acquisitive impulse with a nagging awareness of the unethical nature of his collecting. Returning home with the Buddhist statue looted from the Indian temple at Djaba, the Count places it on a stand in a glazed cabinet concealed behind heavy curtains. The object is thus immediately ‘museified’, ‘pedestalised’– that is, decontextualised, marked out. Its symbolic power as a synecdoche of a mysterious and unknowable Orient becomes apparent from the moment the Count arrives home, telling his servants, ‘Lock the doors, bolt the gates! I never want to see a strange face again!’ The reference to the temple at Djaba is clearly a fictional confection, although in Hindu traditions djaba refers to a particular social group and means literally ‘outside’.14

  • 15 R. Bacon, Benin: City of Blood (Memphis, TN: General Books, 2009 [1897]).

21Credited as the film’s writer as well as director, Wiene may have drawn on his own collecting interests in creating his original script for Fear. Wiene was himself a collector of Benin sculpture, a significant amount of which was dispersed through the international art market following the sacking of the Benin kingdom of west Africa by the British Punitive Expedition of 1897. This was a classic instance of pith-helmet subjugation, the British ransacking the Benin Kingdom in retaliation for the killing of some of their soldiers during an earlier mission undertaken ostensibly to form a trade agreement with the Benin people.15 The Punitive Expedition sent the Oba of Benin into exile and looted the kingdom of its cultural heritage, including carved ivory leopards and the extraordinary ancient brass sculptures that had for centuries adorned the Oba’s royal residence. The Benin objects almost immediately became enveloped by controversy, chiefly on account of the circumstances of their acquisition. Many of the brasses found their way into the British Museum, others entered museums in Chicago, Boston, Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden and elsewhere, while still others were bought at auction by European private collectors or through dealers who acquired them on the secondary market. Wiene, it seems, was one such collector, although exactly when and how he took possession of his own examples is unclear. Dr Hans Feld, former editor of the influential German film magazine Film Kurier, who knew Wiene during the director’s time in London in the mid-1930s, recalled of his frequent visits to Wiene’s flat in Maida Vale:

  • 16 Jung and Schatzberg, 1999, p. 19.

Wiene and his wife offered a home away from home. He took personal interest in the daily lives of his guests and with his smiling scepticism he created some balance. His art collection – mainly Benin sculptures – was a reminder of a world which most of us had forgotten.16

  • 17 J. Clifford, The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth Century Ethnography, Literature and Art (Cambrid (...)

22Forgotten, perhaps – certainly largely overlooked by a museum-going public who at that time would still have seen them as ‘primitive ‘or ‘tribal’17 – the Benin sculptures have subsequently come to figure among the most contested objects in the uncompromising stand-offs between source nations and encyclopaedic museums. They are now widely recognised as evidence of the worst excesses of colonial aggression and thus symbols of the imperial underpinnings of the ‘universal’, or encyclopaedic, museum. Was Wiene motivated to write Fear as a result of his own experience of owning a sculpture that had been illicitly removed from a weaker nation? That question may never be settled, but how prescient his film now seems in the light of later developments in the fractious politics of cultural heritage collecting.

23The encyclopaedic museum has its roots in the princely collections of Renaissance Europe which held that the ordered arrangement of objects could amount to a legible representation of the wider universe. That tradition was developed during the era of the European Enlightenment when the museum emerged as an expression of the rational impulse to order and classify, to contain the whole universe beneath one roof. More recent analyses, however, have come to view the museum’s universalising strategies as fundamentally irrational and illegible, not to say unsustainable. As Eugenio Donato has observed:

  • 18 E. Donato, ‘The Museum’s Furnace: Notes towards a Contextual Reading of Bouvard and Pécuchet’, in J (...)

The set of objects the Museum displays is sustained only by the fiction that they somehow constitute a coherent representational universe… Such a fiction is the result of an uncritical belief in the notion that ordering and classifying, that is to say, the spatial juxtaposition of fragments, can produce a representational understanding of the world.18

  • 19 Clifford, 1988, p. 219.

24Count Greven’s collecting is presented as an irrational, obsessive activity as opposed to the rational, reflective pursuit of knowledge through classification.19 His private, almost fetishistic relationship with the statue is signalled from the moment he removes it from its box. Jealously guarding it from the eyes of others, he embraces it, fondles it, clutches it to his breast with an amorous passion.

Fig. 9.4 Count Greven with the object of his desire.

25The phallic connotations are apparent in almost every frame in which the statue is shown: the Count holds it before him like an erect penis, his scopophilic fixation coexisting with the dread that it will be taken away from him. The psychoanalytic roots of this kind of anxiety are well documented in Freud’s work, but there are fictional precedents too. French author Maurice Leblanc’s popular Arsène Lupin mysteries, almost contemporaneous with Fear, echo the torment experienced by Wiene’s obsessive collector. In Arsène Lupin in Prison (1907), Leblanc writes:

  • 20 M. Leblanc, Arsène Lupin in Prison (Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Press, 2012 [1907]).

Baron Satan leads a life of fear. He is afraid, not for himself, but for the treasures which he has accumulated with so tenacious a passion and with the perspicacity of a collector whom not even the most cunning of dealers can boast of ever having taken in. He loves his curiosities with all the greed of a miser, with all the jealousy of a lover.20

26From the opening frames of the film, the life of fear led by Wiene’s Count Greven is marked out in relation to the statue and seems to be generated by a consciousness of his guilt in having stolen it. In a key moment in the film, the Count fires his gun at the figure of the priest who remains unharmed – the first suggestion that he may be merely a figment of the Count’s imagination. The Count falls at the priest’s feet and begs to be put out of his guilt-ridden misery. ‘I want to die’, he cries, as if the ultimate punishment at the hands of this ‘terrible Buddha priest’ is the only way to end his torment.

27The theft or unauthorised extraction of cultural heritage, even in its most fragmentary form – and the guilt such acts can engender in the perpetrator – is also a theme in twenty-first-century art practice. British artist Andy Holden’s Pyramid Piece (2010), fashioned out of panels of knitted yarn and upholstery foam over a steel armature, takes the form of a huge lump of rock. It represents an enlargement of a tiny piece taken from the Great Pyramid of Giza by Holden while visiting Egypt with his family as a young boy. ‘It became for me, at the age of ten, this kind of strange guilt object’, Holden has said of the piece he stole. ‘I couldn’t really understand why I wanted to take something authentic rather than buy a replica’.21 Fifteen years later he returned to Egypt to try and locate the exact place on the pyramid from which he had taken the fragment. The knitted sculpture, then, is merely a pretext for the articulation of an inexplicable desire to possess the object and the experience of its removal and eventual return.22

28The unexpected effect an illicitly acquired object or fragment can have on its possessor is an abiding theme in literature and film. Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone of 1868 set a benchmark for mystery narratives centred around disputed cultural heritage. Like the Buddhist statue in Fear, the moonstone has been taken from its rightful home by a European traveller (a British army officer) and, as in Fear, it becomes the focus of a quest for repatriation by Indian priests. It is eventually returned to the statue from which it was originally removed.

29Guilt – or the anxiety induced by illicit ownership – seems also to have motivated the return of a fragment of the Colosseum removed by an American couple while on holiday in Italy in the 1980s. Regretting what she eventually came to see as a thoughtless and selfish act, Mrs Janice Johnson of North Carolina posted the fragment to Rome’s archaeological office with a covering letter in which she confessed: ‘I have been bothered by the fact that we took something that did not belong to us and am now returning it. I have felt badly about it whenever I would see this rock sitting on our shelf among our other artefacts from trips taken over the years of our lives’.23 The not uncommon tendency to assign some metaphysical quality to inanimate objects in cultural heritage cases was illustrated by the Johnsons’ closing request to the Roman authorities that the fragment be returned to the Colosseum ‘so it may again be at rest back where it belongs’.24

  • 25 The issue of ‘restitution’is discussed by Sir Mark Jones in Chapter 10 in this volume.
  • 26 S. Loreti, ‘The Affair of the Statuettes Reexamined: Picasso and Apollinaire’s Role in the Famed Lo (...)

30The guilt experienced by individuals like the Johnsons can be contrasted with the attitudes of stubborn indifference adopted by encyclopaedic museums seeking to deflect calls for return. Expressions of remorse or regret – accompanied by an official apology – have occasionally been articulated by governments or heads of state on behalf of nations seeking to heal historical wrongs, often inflicted during the imperial age. In the case of the Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum – the appropriation of which by Lord Elgin is also widely viewed as an act of cultural desecration, the Ottoman permission to remove them notwithstanding – opinion polls consistently show a majority of the public in favour of return.25 In this respect, the British Museum and many of today’s larger museums who face similar cases, are failing to act in accordance with the wishes and sensibilities of the people they purport to represent. Might it be the case that they have come to see the prospect of mass returns as a form of punishment for the acquisitive activities of earlier generations. Fear of punishment was not what drove Mrs. Johnson to return the fragment of the Colosseum, she merely felt it was the ethical thing to do. But guilt seems to have been a motivating factor, as it was in the case of Andy Holden’s returned pyramid piece. In Fear, Count Greven’s attempt to banish his sense of guilt lead him to try and dispose of the stolen statue by throwing it in the lake. The theme echoes Picasso’s attempt a few years earlier to dispose of an ancient Iberian sculpture in his collection, which had been sold to him by an associate of his friend Apollinaire, a Belgian named Géry Pieret, who had stolen it from the Louvre in 1911.26 Under suspicion for the theft, Picasso and Apollinaire considered throwing the sculpture in the Seine to deflect suspicion away from themselves and, presumably, thereby to remove the burden of fear and guilt.

  • 27 S. Freud, Civilization and its Discontents (Eastford, CT: Martino Fine Books, 2010 [1929]), p. 123.
  • 28 Freud, 2010/1929, p. 125.
  • 29 Freud, 1990/1919; S. S. Prawer, Caligari’s Children: The Film as Tale of Terror (Cambridge, MA: Da (...)

31Freud saw guilt as the most important problem in the evolution of culture, maintaining that ‘the price of progress in civilisation is paid in forfeiting happiness through the heightening of the sense of guilt’.27 Moreover, in his clinical studies Freud found that ‘the sense of guilt expresses itself in an unconscious seeking for punishment’.28 Throughout Fear, Wiene provides plentiful hints that what we are witnessing are the phantasms of a psychotic mind – the ghostly apparition in the garden; the magical reappearance of the statue in its cabinet after the Count has thrown it in the lake; the presence of the handwritten note decreeing the seven-year curse; and the substitution of the priest for the carriage driver as the Count is preparing to flee the castle (foreshadowing the demonic coach driver who crops up just a few years later in F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu). All these combine to deliver an aura of the uncanny, the Unheimlich, that characterised so much German expressionist cinema of this period.29

32The fear that a wronged people – often configured as the dead or half-dead – will somehow return to wreak ghastly vengeance on the living is an enduring trope of the Gothic genre (the Buddhist priest who cannot be killed also prefigures the zombies beloved of later Hollywood horror). To suggest that the vengeful Other of the imperial age has now returned to haunt the encyclopaedic museum might be to stretch the metaphor. What is undeniable, however, is that the increasingly clamorous demands by source nations for return of their cultural property is beginning to present an existential challenge to these institutions.

33Tellingly, at the end of Wiene’s film, although Count Greven has killed himself, the image of the ‘terrible Buddhist priest’– previously presented as a probable symptom of the Count’s psychotic state – survives in film time to reclaim his temple statue. Wiene thereby genuflects towards that strand of counter-Enlightenment metaphysics upon which the cinematic art has always thrived. Thus, while ostensibly a psychodrama about an obsessive collector, Fear is also a disquisition on film itself and our fascination with the threshold between fantasy and reality and the monsters lurking beyond the boundaries of the rational mind. Meanwhile, the increasingly persistent calls on European and North American museums for the return of cultural objects are not issuing from some spectral being. They are a reality. If, like Count Greven, we feel fear, it is entirely of our own making.

Notes

1 Bruno Decarli as Count Greven, Furcht, directed by Robert Wiene, 1917.

2 S. Kracauer, From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1974 [1947]), p. 30.

3 Ibid., p. 88.

4 A. Kaes, Shell Shock Cinema: Weimar Culture and the Wounds of War (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009), p. 3.

5 Kaes, 2009, p. 2.

6 T. -L. Williams, ‘Cultural Perpetuation: Repatriation of First Nations Cultural Heritage’, University of British Columbia Law Review, 29, 1995, pp. 183-201.

7 S. Freud, ‘The Uncanny’(1919), in Art and Literature (London: Penguin, 1990).

8 U. Jung and W. Schatzberg (eds.), Beyond Caligari: The Films of Robert Wiene (New York and Oxford: Berghahn, 1999), p. 66.

9 P. Gay, Weimar Culture: The Outsider as Insider (London: Norton, 2001 [1968]), p. xiv.

10 Jung and Schatzberg, 1999.

11 P. Brantlinger, Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism, 1830-1914 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1990), p. 227.

12 See, for example, J. Cuno, Whose Muse? Art Museums and the Public Trust (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004); J. Cuno, Who Owns Antiquity? Museums and the Battle over our Ancient Heritage (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010); J. Cuno, Museums Matter: In Praise of the Encyclopaedic Museum (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2011); J. Cuno, Whose Culture? The Promise of Museums and the Debate over Antiquities (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012).

13 K. Singh, ‘Do we really want the freer circulation of cultural goods?’, The Art Newspaper, 192, June 2008, http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/Do-we-really-want-the-freer-circulation-of-cultural-goods?/8581

14 K. P. H. Koentjaraningrat (ed.), Villages in Indonesia (Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta: Equinox Press, 2007 [1967]), pp. 221-24.

15 R. Bacon, Benin: City of Blood (Memphis, TN: General Books, 2009 [1897]).

16 Jung and Schatzberg, 1999, p. 19.

17 J. Clifford, The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth Century Ethnography, Literature and Art (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988).

18 E. Donato, ‘The Museum’s Furnace: Notes towards a Contextual Reading of Bouvard and Pécuchet’, in J. Harari (ed.), Textual Strategies: Perspectives in Post-Structural Criticism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1979), p. 223.

19 Clifford, 1988, p. 219.

20 M. Leblanc, Arsène Lupin in Prison (Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Press, 2012 [1907]).

21 Andy Holden, Tate Shot: Art Now: Return of the Pyramid Piece, 10 April 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mr5WCSziG28

22 Described by Holden in the associated video work, Return of the Pyramid Piece, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mr5WCSziG28

23 ‘US tourists return Roman artifact 25 years later’, The Guardian, 7 May 2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/8495017

24 ‘US couple return ancient artifact to Rome after 25 years’, The Telegraph, 8 May 2008, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/5293725/US-couple-return-ancient-artifact-to-Rome-after-25-years.html

25 The issue of ‘restitution’is discussed by Sir Mark Jones in Chapter 10 in this volume.

26 S. Loreti, ‘The Affair of the Statuettes Reexamined: Picasso and Apollinaire’s Role in the Famed Louvre Theft’, in N. Charney (ed.), Art and Crime: Exploring the Dark Side of the Art World (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger/ABC-CLIO, 2009), pp. 52-63.

27 S. Freud, Civilization and its Discontents (Eastford, CT: Martino Fine Books, 2010 [1929]), p. 123.

28 Freud, 2010/1929, p. 125.

29 Freud, 1990/1919; S. S. Prawer, Caligari’s Children: The Film as Tale of Terror (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo, 1980).

Table des illustrations

Légende Fig. 9.1 Count Greven shoots the Buddhist priest.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2144/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 8,0k
Légende Fig. 9.2 Count Greven encounters the ghostly face of the priest in his cellar.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2144/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 8,0k
Légende Fig. 9.3 The spectral image of the Buddhist priest departs with the recovered statuette.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2144/img-3.jpg
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Légende Fig. 9.4 Count Greven with the object of his desire.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2144/img-4.jpg
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