It’s “The Kangaroo Chronicles”: The cult phenomenon explains

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It took a long time, but now the “Kangaroo Chronicles” are conquering the big screen. Many fans cheer, but some also scratch their chins. What is that? Why are the books so popular? What is behind them? We’ll tell you what’s behind them.

“The Kangaroo Chronicles” were written by the cabaret artist Marc-Uwe Kling, who only began to tell on stage that he lived with a communist kangaroo. In 2009, this turned into a podcast on the Berlin radio station Fritz (title: “Neues vom Känguru”) and also into a first book and audio book (“Die Känguru Chroniken: Ansichten eines vorlauten Beuteltiers”).

From then on it went one after the other. With “The Kangaroo Manifesto”, “The Kangaroo Revelation” and “The Kangaroo Apocrypha” three sequels followed from 2001 to 2018, all of which stormed the bestseller lists. There were also awards at the German Radio Prize and the German Audio Book Prize.

But the books are not only successful, they are also damn good.

PUNS, POLITICAL SATIRE AND LEGENDARY SAYINGS
Kling distinguishes himself above all for his trenchant writing. The entertaining stories almost always head towards a joke, and are certainly reminiscent of poetry slam performances. And if you like Kling’s dry humour, you’ll always have a smile on your face, often laughing out loud.

The first book actually consists of short episodes, which can be read very well, very quickly, but are also fun to repeat. Because the individual stories are full of pop-cultural allusions and meta-jokes, especially movie fans get their money’s worth because of the numerous quotes. In the sequels a connecting story developed more and more.

The clear direction of impact is at the very front. “The Kangaroo Chronicles” are immensely political from the very beginning, they clearly divide against the right side, but they also target the left side again and again, almost always functioning as a sharp satire.

And in the end the kangaroo is also so popular because it elicits sayings whose cult potential is immediately apparent when first read or heard, which have been quoted a lot since then and of which many can also be found in the movie (“You may think you’re tough, but I’m Herta!”).

THE PROBLEMS OF CINEMA ADAPTATION
So that a cinema adaptation had to come was actually only a question of time. “The Kangaroo Chronicles” by director Dani Levy (“Alles auf Zucker”) is the most fun when Klings wordplay also finds its way into the cinema. Additionally, there are strong actors and a kangaroo that is convincingly created by motion-capture techniques.

However, it becomes really apparent that the movie is a collection of short stories. The film plot invented for the cinema adaptation is too often just a means to an end, has too much idle time and is not captivating enough. Also, the numerous film allusions don’t work nearly as well on the screen as in the books.

THE “KANGAROO CHRONICLES” IN OUR PODCAST LEINWANDLIEBE
By the way, the current issue of our podcast Leinwandliebe is also about the “Kangaroo Chronicles” and we discuss in detail what we like about the film and what we like less.

In keeping with the start of the bestselling film adaptation, we also talk to main actor Dimitrij Schaad (plays Marc-Uwe Kling in the film). And as if that weren’t enough, Annette Frier, the next star guest, will join us directly. After all, the new Pixar adventure “Onward: No half measures”, in which the comedian and actress participated as a dubbing artist, is also running in the cinemas this week.

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I am The Washington Newsday correspondent. I cover general science and Nasa news. I have been in the Science Desk's Technology Beat since joining Washington Newsday in 2018. You can contact me at [email protected]

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