Fritz Ofner (co-director Eva Hausberger)
There’s nothing wrong with filmic acrobatics when portraying a certain theme or phenomenon. As long as there’s coherence on some level or another. As long as you don’t get the feeling that there’s a whole smorgasbord being neglected in favour of asides a bit too lengthy or too far astray. Although Austrian documentarist Fritz Ofner sticks dutifully to the brand Glock in each and every departure, this mode of operation isn’t totally convincing. It’s as if he said: «We set out to shoot some footage about this Austrian gun, and this is what we got. Here’s a gun. This is where it was invented. Here’s a man in a war zone caressing it like a pet. Here’s another man in another semi-war zone praising it and the songs about it. Here’s a police chief concerned about the lack of Glocks …»
Glocks, Glocks and more Glocks
Glock, Glock, Glock. No question of what has been Ofner’s word of the day when making this film. Still, the result indicates that he might not have been too conscious of exactly what kind of film he set out to make. At worst Weapon of Choice looks like something Werner Herzog left out to dry (which would be quite an accomplishment, come to think of it). If this particular gun, and nothing but this gun, is the sole centre of attention, you could basically drop a camera at random anywhere in the populated parts of the world and have police and thieves comment on the treasured piece. Which, bluntly speaking, is what the film looks like. A bunch of short stories tossed together with the word «Glock» as the only common factor. This is not to say the film doesn’t have its moments.
«You could drop a camera at random anywhere in the populated world and have police and thieves comment on the treasured gun.»
As opposed to the narrative, which, as mentioned, comes across as pretty sharp angled in its twists and turns, Weapon of Choice has a straightforward, even docile style. All the participants seem to enjoy the filmmaker’s full attention and are given all the film time they require. This lends it an honest, innocent charm that shouldn’t be dismissed.
Your gun is your friend
We are introduced to the iconic item in a war zone, where an unidentified man indulges in affection for the gun: «We are like friends,» he says, stroking it, explaining how he’s come to relate to it after spending lots of time with it. Given the fact that the cherished item is a gun, and that the time spent implies usage with it, likely in mortal combat, this may sound (or be intended to seem) a bit kinky, but there’s nothing too peculiar about it if you think it through. Some of us experience similar affection for skis, boats, rackets or other equipment that has proven itself in battle, or at least worthy of our trust.
But then there’s that other issue, the main function of the object. It’s the capacity, if not the intention, to kill that’s the unsettling trait of a gun. You could always condemn guns, take a stand and prove you have a peaceful mindset. But anybody curious about the fascination with guns will have a grasp of the appeal by admitting the delicacies of the fine technology. Don’t be too principled about this; consider the military research and development leading up to the pad you may be reading this on.
But obviously it’s this notion of death that adds to the lure of, not just this gun, but guns in general: all that engineered beauty, with a sense of the «no-no», the dash of the forbidden required by any object of desire. Anyone who remembers the scene in Taxi Driver when Travis Bickle is buying the gun will have had at least a trace of this sensation. And, as we can see when the Glock is assembled and disassembled, it really is a nifty little piece of equipment. But just as Ofner has worked up one’s appetite for intricate engineering details, we’re suddenly on a bus, straight into Compton, Los Angeles.
For all with an interest in technology and in subcultures, the first hour of this film will be a treat. The Glock gun has a high standing in hip-hop, which is a very brand-conscious culture. Add its prominent dealer/gangster ethos, and you get an idea of why the Glock has been the lauded handgun in rap songs since the late Tupac up until today. This is owed in part to its reliability («It never jams. It could save your life.») And as is pointed out, the name «Glock» rhymes with a lot of cool words. It sounds good. Not to forget that it goes «pow!» and does indeed kill. It’s called «gangsta rap» for a reason.
Still, it’s a peculiar thing this, an Austrian engineering icon enjoying its cultural impact among the brothers in South Central L.A. Then again, boys will be boyz – the ‘hood being the ‘hood.
As for the design dimension, with the handgun’s lean functionality and no-nonsense lines, a more likely association would be the minimalist aesthetic of legendary German techno-pioneers Kraftwerk. But a rapper’s delight it apparently is, and now we know – thanks to Ofner, who has devoted a solid chunk of this collection of a film to enlighten us on the topic.
In spite of the harsh verdict passed above, it must be emphasised again that Ofner has a keen interest in whatever and whoever is in front the camera, and this sincerity goes a long way with even a restless viewer like myself. Each of these segments come into their own individually and are worth sitting through. See it.