Jakob the Liar / Fake News
based on Jurek Becker's novel of the same name and texts by Heiner Müller.
In a Polish ghetto, Jakob Heym invents a radio that brings hopeful news of the advance of the Russian liberators.
Jakob becomes a liar, spreading optimism through fake news.
The lies develop a life of their own: they become necessary for the daily survival of the ghetto inhabitants, and they claim victims. The orphan Lina is the keenest listener to Jakob’s white lies.
Jurek Becker’s novel Jakob der Lügner (1969) depicts not resistance, heroic struggle, but everyday life in a world where both sides have be-come accustomed to horrors.
The novel, first conceived by Becker as a screenplay, was awarded the National Prize of the GDR. Frank Beyer’s 1974 film adaptation is the only DEFA production to be nominated for an Oscar.
Jakob der Lügner is a necessary text that explains life to us with lies, white lies and necessary lies. Becker is smarter than our fantasies of a good ending to the story. An apocalyptic and grounded text that up-dates our understanding of democracy:
“A liar with a conscience will remain a bungler all his life. In this business, you have to draw from the full.”