With Fabian: Going to the Dogs, Graf masterfully disentangles many of the tenets of living a moral life through textual mastery and precise formal command in which the prolific filmmaker oscillates between modes of expressivity to deliver a deeply rich tapestry of the Weimar republic. While watching Fabian: Going to The Dogs I was consistently reminded of Karl Polyani's The Great Transformation. While the film is intrinsically political, Fabian: Going to the Dogs fundamentally recognizes that the economic superseding the social; the market embedded into the social fabric of society is what fundamentally made ethical living far more malleable to the prongs and desires of power. Social respectability/desirability became increasingly tied to economic status, effectively forging a path towards social degradation in which morality becomes supplanted by ethics which intrinsically can be far more shaped by external sources. In the case of this particular epoch, desperation breeds even more grand scale despondency and indoctrination, one in which the allure of stability quickly deteriorates morality in a time when economic success was desperately desired. What I think Fabian: Going to the Dogs manages to captures so well are the methodical and pernicious ways in which authoritarianism manifests itself, manipulating the social's existential concerns of order and stability as a means to exert itself. Through this epic story of love and loss and the slow, methodical march towards authoritarianism, Fabian: Going to the Dogs ultimately, in its denouement, is a plea of morality above all else. While tragic, this film's conclusion is far from cynical about the human spirit's propensity for good, showcasing one individual's willingness to act in the morally righteous way, despite the cold-hard logic of the situation. The morally just decision is not one tapped to external forces but one which is a feeling from within. Imbued with playfulness, danger, tension, and romanticism, Fabian: Going to the Dogs is a rich work that I would presume could have a host of variant readings, and what Graf has crafted here has a specificity to a time and place in history but one that ultimately feels transcendent in the way it navigates the ideals of moral living.
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