Fraktus, or to give it it’s full title Fraktus – Das letzte Kapitel der Musikgeschichte (The last chapter of music history), is a German mockumentary which is kind of their take on This Is Spinal Tap, at least if that film was about a band who supposedly invented techno, had minor success, and then split up, only to reunite for the purpose of the movie. So okay, the plot might not sound that similar but it has a fair amount in common with Rob Reiner’s classic film, including some rather daft band members who say a lot of idiotic things.
The film begins with a potted history of the band and has a lot of real life talking heads proclaiming them to be amazing, saying that they were the founders of modern electronic music and a huge influence on their own careers. Known for creating their own instruments to create unique songs – with the singer Dickie Schubert (Rocko Schamoni) using an electric bagpipe which was made of parts that are still to this day unknown – unfortunately at one of their gigs there was a fire which burnt down the venue, and that led to them splitting up.
And that would be the end of the Fraktus story if it wasn’t for Roger (Devid Striesow), a record producer and band manager who really isn’t as smart as he’d like to think he is who hits upon the idea of reuniting the band and recording a new album. This isn’t the simple task that he might have hoped it would be though as the band members haven’t spoken to each other in decades, and though one of them, Torsten Bage (Heinz Strunk), is still in the industry creating shitty party hits (like Everything’s Awesome, which sadly doesn’t sound anything like the version from The Lego Movie and is instead an appalling piece of dance music), the others have all but disappeared. Fortunately for all involved Roger eventually finds Dickie running a tiny internet cafe, and the writer of most of the songs, Bernd Wand (Jacques Palminger), working at his parent’s opticians.
A lot of the humour comes from how offbeat the three leads are, Torsten believes the music he creates is amazing despite it being horrific, Dickie is inordinately proud of his internet cafe while Bernd is a mess of a hypochondriac who in his spare time has put together Fraktus II, made up of himself and his elderly parents, who are never good enough for him despite going along with his madness and his incredibly avant-garde attempts at music. There’s also a lot of mockery of the conventions of documentary making as Roger forces them to retake certain scenes over and over again, the group often bicker and argue over the tiniest of things, while their efforts at making new music are amusingly painful to listen to.
It’s not quite as original or as funny as it thinks it is however, which prevents it falling in to the cult classics category. A couple of times some of the jokes are remarkably similar to those found in This Is Spinal Tap for instance, with one scene where they get lost in the building while looking for the stage being particularly unoriginal, while it sags in the middle and gets a bit repetitive as it relies on Roger being a bit of a dick, and Dickie saying things which are mildly embarrassing or idiotic. I did find myself wishing that we got to hear more of the bands music as well, as the ones we did hear, like “Ape Seeks Love”, was a real highlight.
That all said it is a fairly endearing movie, one with a feel good ending which feels earnt and which will make you smile no end, and the performances are all admirable with the three band mates especially deserving of kudos. It’s inventive enough that you rarely have to wait too long for a decent laugh, the music is never less than appealing and it’s just a shame the script wasn’t a little sharper as then it would be something really special. As it is it’s definitely worth seeking out though, especially if you’re fond of the genre.