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Lola

 (46)
7.41 h 54 min198215
Set in a small West German town in 1957, a booming economy is generating a new sense of optimism. In the town brothel, Lola, a young high-class prostitute with a zest for life, is the star of the show.
Directors
Rainer werner Fassbinder
Starring
Barbara SukowaArmin Mueller-stahlMario Adorf
Genres
Drama
Subtitles
None Available
Audio Languages
Deutsch
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Rainer werner Fassbinder
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Studiocanal Limited
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Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 July 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
LOLA [1981 / 2017] [Vintage World Cinema] [Blu-ray]
Verified purchase
LOLA [1981 / 2017] [Vintage World Cinema] [Blu-ray] A Film by “Enfant Terrible” Rainer Werner Fassbinder!

Set in a small West German town in 1957, a booming economy is generating a new sense of optimism. In the town brothel, “Villa Fink,” Lola [Barbara Sukowa], a young high-class prostitute with a zest for life, is the star of the show. Her favourite client is the influential developer Schuckert [Mario Adorf], who enjoys spending time at Villa Fink with city officials important to his construction business. When Mr. von Bohm [Armin Mueller-Stahl], an upright, energetic building commissioner with a liberal, social-democratic outlook, arrives in the town, he falls in love with Lola without being aware where she works by night. Although he is shocked when he learns of her true identity, he nevertheless marries her. As a result, Lola gains a husband and Schuckert is awarded a new building contract. Ultimately neither Lola, Mr. von Bohm nor Schuckert are really concerned with what has happened in the past or the morality of their decisions – the main thing is that they get what they want.

Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the notorious “enfant terrible” of the German New Wave won much renown as a radical and innovative writer-director before his untimely death at 37 and was, arguably, post-war Germany’s greatest filmmaker. As prolific as he was controversial and his first 10 features were made in less than two years, and Fassbinder is much admired by current American indie filmmakers such as Todd Haynes and Richard Linklater and is enjoying a long overdue revival and reappraisal thanks to a very recent in-depth retrospective from the British Film Institute.

‘LOLA’ [1981] marks the third part of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s "BRD" Trilogy alongside the films ‘The Marriage of Maria Braun’ [1979] and ‘Veronika Voss’ [1982]. ‘LOLA’ is loosely based on Josef von Sternberg’s ‘The Blue Angel’ [1930] and its source novel, ‘Professor Unrat’ by Heinrich Mann. The three-letter acronym "BRD" stands for Bundesrepublik Deutschland, the official name of West Germany and of the united contemporary Germany, and represents Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s attempt to create an overall picture of West Germany at the time.

Cast: Barbara Sukowa, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Mario Adorf, Matthias Fuchs, Helga Feddersen, Karin Baal, Ivan Desny, Elisabeth Volkmann, Hark Bohm, Karl-Heinz von Hassel, Rosel Zech, Sonja Neudorfer, Christine Kaufmann, Y Sa Lo, Günther Kaufmann, Isolde Barth, Karsten Peters, Harry Baer, Rainer Will, Herbert Steinmetz, Nino Korda, Raúl Gimenez (uncredited), Andrea Heuer (uncredited), Udo Kier (uncredited), Juliane Lorenz (uncredited), Maxim Oswald (uncredited), Helmut Petigk (uncredited), Marita Pleyer (uncredited) and Ulrike Vigo (uncredited)

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Producers: Hanns Eckelkamp (uncredited), Horst Wendlandt, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Thomas Schühly and Wolf-Dietrich Brücker

Screenplay: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Pea Fröhlich and Peter Märthesheimer

Composer: Freddy Quinn and Peer Raben

Cinematography: Xaver Schwarzenberger

Video Resolution: 1080p [Fujicolor]

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 [Spherical]

Audio: German: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo

Subtitles: English SDH

Running Time: 114 minutes

Region: Region B/2

Number of discs: 1

Studio: StudioCanal

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘LOLA’ [1981] was Rainer Werner Fassbinder final film, the enfant-terrible director of German cinema, took another vicious swipe at his favourite subject: the moral vacuum of post-war West Germany. Rainer Werner Fassbinder is a phenomenally prolific filmmaker and had over 40 directorial credits to his name when sadly he died at the age of 37 and this lurid and cine-literate romp about the patronage where experience entering an upscale brothel, which is arguably his most radical masterpiece so far. Although nearly all of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s films are filled with comic moments and even comical subplots, one might suggest that one of his last masterworks, ‘LOLA,’ is the closest to being a true comedy.

Certainly the work, at moments, veers to sarcasm and disgust for the petty scheming, fraud, backroom fixes, and other dirty works of the small German town’s haute bourgeoisie: the mayor, head of police, and other city leaders as well as the greedy contractor, Schuckert [Mario Adorf], who also owns the local whorehouse into which these “good” men escape most evenings. But, more often, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s film chortles along with the naughty goings on and after all, it is just these activities that result in the building boom described as Germany’s economic miracle; and, as the local reporter later argues, even if the rich have stolen from the poor, it ultimately filters down to make the poor richer.

Set in the 1950s, the film explores the profitable rebuilding of a German city, where property developer Schukert [Mario Adorf] is the owner of a brothel, where the local politicians, deal-makers, city officials, police, journalists, and bankers are all entertained. It is within these four walls where they make the corrupt deals to make them all rich and prosperous men. This is all witnessed by Lola [Barbara Sukowa] who is the star singer in the cabaret, and Schukert’s favourite girl in the rooms upstairs. The schemes of Schukert and the others are interrupted by the arrival of the wonderful Mr. von Bohm [Armin Mueller-Stahl] an idealistic and morally-centred new building commissioner. When Lola hears about this man, she decides she wants to meet him, and Schukert sees an opportunity to compromise Mr. von Bohm.

Lola and Mr. von Bohm begin a genuine and affectionate courtship, though he is of course completely unaware of what she does for a living and he is also unaware that his housekeeper is Lola’s mother, and that the young girl is Lola’s illegitimate child with Schukert. Lola’s seduction of this decent man, this refugee from East Prussia, tells you everything you need to know about Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s attitude to the post-fascist society and corrupting nature of West Germany.

The whorehouse, where a great deal of the film’s events take place, has the feel almost of pre-war Berlin, with every kind of male and female sexual delights taking place in the main room as well in bedrooms throughout the house and perhaps taking a cue from the theatrical production such as “Cabaret.” Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s director of photography Xaver Schwarzenberger, has cast much of the film in garish candy-like colours: reds, yellows, lavenders, greens and blues to great effect.

Though the film ‘LOLA’ is told in the lean style of a political caricaturist and of someone more interested in exposing the rottenness of a system than in exploring the psychological complexities of character in the film is unexpectedly rich in the emotional details of the lives of Mr. von Bohm and especially Lola and is genuinely attracted to Mr. von Bohm but never loses sight of her goal, which is to become one of ''them,'' a member of the haute bourgeoisie. How Lola achieves this, and the effect it has on the sensitive but not silly Mr. von Bohm, are the film's major surprises.

In the film's big ''recognition'' scene, when Mr. von Bohm comes into the cabaret to discover her real identity Lola, who suddenly performs a riotous song-and-dance number that appears to be straight out of the film ‘Gilda.’ Yet, minutes (in screen time) before, in an otherwise empty country chapel, Lola and Mr. von Bohm have sung a canon together in a scene of legitimacy, if a slightly mixed-up pathos scenario. Armin Mueller-Stahl, Mario Adorf and everyone else in the large cast, many of whom are new to Rainer Werner Fassbinder films, are excellent, but of course the film, though, remains the unmistakable work of its director.

One of the more striking aspects of the film ‘LOLA’' is the use of scenes are sometimes shot in the subtle ways of chiaroscuro, meaning “the treatment of light and shade in drawing and painting, with an effect of contrasted light and shadow” and sometimes with the blatant use of a piece of Pop Art, even when they share the same film frame. I don't think this should be overanalysed but, like the film ‘LOLA’ itself, enjoy it for the sheer and joyous effrontery of a really excellent German film that will make you look at life in Germany in a totally different way forever. The only great mystery is the very ending of the film, which is a very strange ending and to me very totally confusing, so see what you think?

Blu-ray Video Quality – StudioCanal brings this Rainer Werner Fassbinder thought provoking film in stunning 1080p colourful images that really shows off this Blu-ray format in all its glory and features a breath-taking new 4K transfer, and its quality is a total revelation, especially since the cinematographer once described the look as “we played at the most excessive level, actually often beyond that, entering the red zone.” We also experience a stunning 1.66:1 [Spherical] aspect ratio to really show off this film in an excellent way. Clarity is strong throughout the film, the film's moody lighting designs lead to a solid sense of dimension to bring a dreamy air of a “film noir” look. The stylized colour palette mostly adheres to a yellow cast, though certain scenes carry a cooler appearance with blueish hues and key sequences offer some rich pop splash of colour. Contrast is well balanced, with good black levels, so overall a well presented film on all levels and of course this Blu-ray with an impressive transfer, which StudioCanal always provides in their professional way. To get the proper aspect ratio and the only way to be able to read the English subtitles properly, you have to keep pressing the ZOOM button on your remote control until the word USCAN appears in the middle of the screen, but what is annoying is that you do not always get all the English subtitles appear on the screen. Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – StudioCanal has provided us with just one German 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Mono sound experience, with of course English subtitles. Dialogue is very clear, full-bodied, and well prioritised throughout the film with no technical issues. General ambiance is delicate but gently enveloping, spreading atmospherics, despite being limited to one mono audio track. The sound mix is largely driven by intimate encounters, putting emphasis on dialogue exchanges as the actor’s battle back and forth with hushed confessions and more heated articulations of frustration. Voices are crisp and clean throughout, and dramatic volatility never hits distortive extremes and creating lightly immersive atmospherics throughout the film. A clean track overall, which is just fine for a small scale film like this for Rainer Werner Fassbinder who always wants to make his audience appreciate what he is trying to create with this very thought provoking film of the ultimate experience and was of course Rainer Werner Fassbinder final film, where the “enfant-terrible” director of German cinema, took a vicious swipe at his favourite subject: the moral vacuum of post-war West Germany.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Special Feature: Interview with Barbara Sukowa [2017] [1080p] [1.78:1] [10:33] Here we have a brand new interview with the actress Barbara Sukowa, who played the character of Lolo in the film directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. The first time Barbara was involved in acting was when being an exchange student in the United States of America and was based in California and was involved with a play festival and also won an award and everyone felt Barbara should become a professional actress. While still at acting school, Barbara was employed at one of the best theatre in Germany that was the most progressive theatre in berlin, but sadly Barbara only got very small parts that did not expand her repertoire. After sometime ended up in Frankfurt, and all the actors were very democratic and decided what plays to put on, and Barbara found it a very exciting and a very stimulating experience. But what Barbara finds is that the German style of theatre is totally different to the style of the British and French theatre experience, where in London is the centre of the theatre experience and that same goes for Paris where most of the theatres a situated. Over time Barbara ended up in Hamburg and got involved with the play “The Women,” which is based on the American film director George Cukor’s film and in the play it had 21 women in the cast and at the same time the original director quit and in the end they invited Rainer Werner Fassbinder to take control, and it was the first time that Barbara met this director. Also at the same time Rainer Werner Fassbinder talked to Barbara about a lot of film projects he wanted to get off the ground that he wanted Barbara to appear in, but as always they never materialised. Then one day out of the blue, Barbara was invited to Fassbinder’s home to talk about her appearing in the film ‘LOLA.’ But what Barbara found very strange is that Rainer Werner Fassbinder does not do rehearsals, because he had fixed ideas of how he wanted the film to be shot and will not change anything and only did one take, on top of all that even if actors would suggest any ideas on their characters, but he would immediately turn down any suggestions and again you had to stick to the script 100%. While shooting the film ‘LOLA,’ Fassbinder would also be thinking about his next film project. Another thing Barbara felt very strange about the director, is that he would not get involved with the costumes and would only view them when the actors walked onto the film set. Barbara felt the costume designer Barbara Baum did a fantastic job, especially for the character of Lola and made you all into character when filming commenced. At the moment Barbara is working on an America TV Series and the work schedule is horrendous, but working on the film ‘LOLA’ was a totally wonderful experience and a joy to appear in the film, and all the crew would now and again watch a football game if it appears on the television in the afternoon, on top of all that Fassbinder would stop shooting and everyone sat down to watch the game, and on top of all that the crew were always having football games in-between a shooting schedule. Also Fassbinder would always lay on a massive food banquet, and it was a totally wonderful time and everyone felt like a totally family experience. Barbara informs us about a funny anecdote while filming ‘LOLA,’ because Fassbinder had a tape cassette around his neck and in-between shots would keep playing a music tape out loud and because they would be no rehearsals Barbara asked Fassbinder it would be possible to have a moment of silence before he shouts “action,” and just before the camera would roll Fassbinder would keep teasing Barbara and would shout out to everyone on set “one minutes silence for Ms. Sukowa,” and would do this every time Barbara was about to perform in front of the camera. After the film had finished shooting and was edited ready to be released, Barbara finally got round to view the finished film and felt it was a really good film and felt at the time that predicted that in 10 years’ time it would be a classic film and feels her prediction came true, even though at the time the film got mixed reviews, because on first viewing people did not understand the film, but after a 10 years gap and was viewed again, people finally understood the premise of the film. But even today people are still talking about the film 30 years later and that makes Barbara very happy and also feels that is good. But just at that point the interview ends abruptly without any warning, but despite this it was a really fascinating interview and I felt Barbara was a really nice lady and someone I could of listened to for ages and is well worth viewing.

Special Feature: Interview with Juliane Lorenz [2017] [1080p] [1.78:1] [9:56] Here we have an in-depth interview with Juliane Lorenz, who was the Editor of 14 of Rainer Werner Fassbinder films, including ‘LOLA,’ and is also Head of the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation. Juliane feels that Fassbinder was the filmmaker ideal for Germany, who also gave us stories about German life that not a lot of people knew about, especially in the 1950s and onwards, until his death at such an early age. But as to the film ‘LOLA,’ Fassbinder was offered the film to make it an updated version of ‘The Blue Angel,’ but initially turned it down, because he did not want the film to have anything to do with the original film, but would tackle the film with his own interpretation, as the original film was a masterpiece, whereas ‘LOLA’ would be set in a totally different time and genre, and was to be part of his film trilogy. ‘LOLA’ was also to show how Germany was the bad guy in the war and to also show you the start of the German economic miracle, even though at time the Americans, the English and the French in West Germany were calling the shots, as well as running the country and did not know how to bring Germany into the 20th Century. But when former Chancellor Konrad Hermann Joseph Adenauer came to power after the war ended, this is when things started to change. When Bobby Kennedy was assonated in America, Juliane really cried, as she felt it was the end of the German economic dream and Juliane felt this was the time for Germany to forge ahead to a better future and be more in control of their destiny. But when the unification of Germany happened, Juliane felt this was the start of a new Germany and a brighter future, and that is when they were really a nation united. Juliane also felt Rainer Werner Fassbinder showed in a microscope the true German society and on top of all that, Juliane didn’t learn anything about German society from the usual information in school, but more so in the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, especially the West German Society and Culture in the past and in the future, which Juliane feels Fassbinder helped to mould German society right through to the 21st Century. Juliane talks about how they use to like watching lots of films together and especially the film ‘The Girl from the Marsh Croft’ [1935] by director Douglas Sirk and was remade in Germany entitled ‘Das Mädchen vom Moorhof’ in 1958 and these reason they loved the 1935 film was the use of beautiful colour photography and also beautiful fades, and because of this discovery, they decided to have brilliant colours and do the same type of fades for the film ‘LOLA,’ which Juliane felt the film was a very “colourful expressive film.” Once again the interview ends abruptly and without warning, but despite this I was fascinated listening to Juliane, who I feel is a very interesting and intelligent person I could of listened to for ages, so please give it a try and I know you will also enjoy the interview very much and both interviews are of five star quality.

Theatrical Trailer [1981] 1080p] [1.66:1] [3:41] This is the Original German Theatrical Trailer for the film ‘LOLA.’ It is shown in German with no English subtitles. Despite this it is still a very good presentation and certainly gives you a flavour of what you can expect when you view this film.

Finally, ‘LOLA’ [1981] is without doubt Rainer Werner Fassbinder most technically accomplished film so far. ‘LOLA’ is a stylistic triumph. Drenched in colour, the film emerges as the love child of New Wave Pop Art and 1950s melodrama. One of the more striking aspects of ‘LOLA’ is Rainer Werner Fassbinder's extraordinary use of colour. Scenes are sometimes shot in the subtle ways of chiaroscuro and sometimes with the blatancy of a piece of Pop Art, as when, near the end, Von Bohm is always seen in an electric blue light and Lola is drenched in pinkie-lavender, even when they share the same film frame. I don't think this should be overanalysed but, like the film ‘LOLA’ itself, enjoyed for the sheer, joyous effrontery of it. This 4K digital restoration looks sensational, adding incredible clarity to Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s lurid aesthetic scenario. Politically vital and visually stunning, this terrific new Blu-ray release is the perfect gateway into the remarkable back catalogue of the director Rainer Werner Fassbinder films and is a distinctive and provocative classic German film. The film can be summed up with these two quotes from the man himself: “love is the best, most perfidious, and most effective instrument of social oppression” and “the years from 1956 to 1960 were more or less the most amoral period that Germany ever experienced.” Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado
Le Cinema Paradiso
United Kingdom
9 people found this helpful
Francis2011Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 09 April 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Worth watching!
Verified purchase
One of the many Fassbinder masterpieces, my favourite. The acting, story and singing are outstanding, a real gem!
schumann_bgReviewed in the United Kingdom on 30 March 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
could only be by Fassbinder
Lola, Fassbinder's third last film made in 1981, is a pastel sponge with a deceptively brittle day-glo icing - on first viewing it is less appealing than subsequently, seeming both allusive, disjointed, and lacking a proper emotional centre. But once you get past the first acquaintance the script becomes more pleasurable, and the emotion seems to be carried by the visual and musical elements, making up for the diffuseness of the plot. It focuses on a group of councillors in a small German town, Coburg, in 1957. They are all corrupt and view the arrival of a new building inspector with unease, who turns out to be a very upright character (von Bohm, played by Armin Mueller-Stahl). There are three principal figures at this 'business' level: von Bohm, Schuckert, a building contractor, and Esslin, who works for von Bohm, and has a certain moral compunction too, his anxiety offset against on Bohm's blue-eyed wonder. The latter is scrupulous but not overly stressed, especially after he meets Lola, without realising she is a singer and prostitute at the local brothel. She sets her sights on him, and this makes up the double thread of the narrative.

The material could be very dry on the one hand, and cliched on the other, but Fassbinder avoids both by shooting in a very cinematically rich style. Pink and yellow tones abound in the lighting, and Peer Raben's score creates suitably curdled effects, sometimes using two recorders in a parody of baroque style; at other times we hear Beethoven's Emperor Concerto, or the Vivaldi von Bohm plays on the violin. The brothel scenes are particularly pink, Barbara Sukowa performing with abandon, and often drunk and acting with extreme abandon. At times this seems a bit forced, especially as she is then pressing for details of von Bohm whom she hasn't even met, and about property details that would hardly be likely to interest her in the inebriated state she's in. Her character is the weak link, really, as she is not very clearly drawn, and seems impervious to actual feeling, except hysterical moments. She is far preferable to Maria Braun, though, Sukowa having some indefinable quality. It is sad the way von Bohm loves her so ardently when she really doesn't give a damn, and this makes the whole film a bit unsatisfying. She looks great, though, and Schuckert is amazing - very funny. Council meetings are shot amid so much cigar and cigarette smoke they become a hilarious send-up; Fraulein Hettich, von Bohm's secretary is also a delight. The film shows that Fassbinder could get a very funny tone when he wanted to.
5 people found this helpful
Jonathan James RomleyReviewed in the United Kingdom on 31 March 2005
4.0 out of 5 stars
A heartbreaking look at obsession and pity.
Typical of the director's later works, Lola is a giddy fusion of the filmmaker's key cinematic inspirations and his then political concerns. It was a style and personal ideology that Fassbinder had been building up to with films like In a Year with 13 Moons and Despair, showing the director's continuing attempts to subvert the conventions of the melodrama by way of narrative experimentation & visual stylisation... a cinematic device that would be further tinkered with in his final films, the bitter Veronika Voss and the deeply surreal Querelle. Whereas his early films, such as Fear Eats the Soul and The Merchant of Four Seasons, had developed an astute sense of character, dislocated from a reality that was, in someway, categorically our own, these later-period Fassbinder films seem to disregard actual reality for a more expressive and cinematic depiction. So, whilst those early films may have once given us a depiction of small town life, boardrooms and bordellos that could have easily sprung from a documentary, Lola (and these later films in general) give us a surreal detachment and an arcane theatricality, with music being used to create both mood and atmosphere, as well as scoring the underlining emotions, which, when coupled with that roving camera and sumptuous 'chocolate box' photography, creates some dynamic and astounding moments of cinematic spectacle.
As with most films that can be categorised as melodrama, the story of Lola is deceptively simple. On the one hand the film is a remake of The Blue Angel, replete with similar scenarios, characters and thematic concerns, though the whole thing is elaborated on by the director's interest in social issues, gender roles, human emotions, politics (both modern day and historical) and, as with other filmmakers of the German New Wave, particularly Herzog & Wenders, the role of 'new Germany' under the bleak and unforgiving shadow of the past. Fassbinder couples these issues with the themes of unrequited love, social disgrace and personal tragedy - elements that were so internal in his early work, like Fear Eats the Soul - and makes them external here, tying it all into that gloriously giddy mise-en-scene. This is the kind of film where even the performances are stylised... wavering from understated longing to over-the-top bursts of elation, though never belying the intent of the story of the believability of the character. We also get a separate viewpoint for the story as well, with Fassbinder opening out the proceedings in a way that goes against the original version of The Blue Angel in order to give us more focus on the character Von Bohm - the lonely, up tight businessman who comes to represent a beacon of morality - who falls in love with the showgirl, only to see his initial plight subsequently perverted by those that Lola manages to wrap around her finger. The ultimate rejection and realisation by Von Bohm of Lola's callous manipulation is one of the most crippling and emotionally heart-braking scenes of Fassbinder's career.
Here, we find Armin Mueller-Stahl as the tortured Von Bohm, staring ahead, his face bathed in red light, the background awash with blue, being given the external visual representation of his hate, anger and general outsider status by Fassbinder's cinematography. From this, we see the strands of corruption and greed, love and longing, jealousy and deceit as the strongest themes of the film, with Barbara Sukowa (as excellent here as she was in von Trier's Europa a decade later) managing to pull off this multi-faceted role that seems to incorporate every single one of those disparate characteristics. Because of this, some have stated that Lola, as a character, is too hard to relate to or sympathise with and, as a result of this, Fassbinder's central message falls flat. I disagree. I believe you have to really analysis Lola's relationship to the town and her relationship with Von Bohm to really understand the contradictory dimensions of the character in relation to the director's subtextual ideas about Post War Germany, etc.
My only complaint is that the film seems to move a little too slowly on first viewing, but that just means that the viewer will have to work a little harder to follow the plot, without being diverted by that sublime cinematography. Lola is, inarguably, one of the highpoints of latter-period Fassbinder and represents something of a second crossroad within his all-too-short career that, judging from that sprawling epic Berlin Alexanderplatz and the later, surreal and disturbing Querelle, could have really taken him anywhere!
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