Title: Peter Tscherkassky: Films from a Dark Room

Also known as:

Year: N/A

Genre: Shorts / Experimental

Language: N/A

Runtime: 45 min

Director: Peter Tscherkassky

Writer: N/A

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0874787/

A collected set of experimental short films by Vienna artist Peter Tscherkassky, featuring his CinemaScope Trilogy and a couple more of his known experiments.

Our Thoughts:
We're back to this kind of experimental film again: the original kind, where the experimenting was done directly to the film. Where people like Stan Brakhage were on top of the game. Modern experimental movies have a lot to thank for these very specific experiments because it truly treated film as an art form. But instead of a paper or notepad, the reel was their canvas. Peter Tscherkassky is certainly not a new name in the game, having made avant-garde films with archived footage since the late 70's and is still doing a few things to this day.

This collection features the CinemaScope Trilogy, which consists of "L'Arrivée", "Outer Space" and "Dream Work". I had seen "Outer Space" before since it's part of another short film collection I own, and that was the short that made me want to review this DVD in the first place. This trilogy uses archived footage from films, and Tscherkassky has copied them by hand and frame by frame onto unexposed film stock. Like "Outer Space", which is using the 80's flick "The Entity". But with the style of Tscherkassky it becomes about something else, and that's what I feel seperates him a bit from other artists using archived footage. This trilogy (the latter two especially) is quite expressive and intense. One can only imagine how much better it must have been watching it on a public screening in the dark. These are not something to watch if you're epileptic because of the flickering lights, jitters, and multple expositions. I feel that "Outer Space" is more aimed at being bizarre and creepy, while "Dream Work" is more hypnotic in its chaos.

Other than the CinemaScope Trilogy (which I feel is the highlight), we have a 3 more shorts as well as a "bonus". The first one is called "Manufraktur". This is pieces of film and sound mashed together in an unexplained madness. Cars driving down the road, people walking down the streets, the hands that work the reels, parts of words spoken through the distortion and mirrored images is pretty much what you get. Although just 3 minutes long it's a blow to eyes and ears.

"Motion Picture (La Sortie des Ouvriers de l'Usine Lumière à Lyon)", which Google Translate told me means "Output Factory Workers Lumière in Lyon", is the least exciting and the hardest one to review since it displays a series of unexposed film, which leaves us watching essentially nothing - scratchy white with imposing black spots. Not entirely unlike "L'Arrivée", except this one never reveals anything further ("L'Arrivée" implemented footage of Catherine Deneuve). Genius or pretentious? I remain neutral to this kind of experiments due to my little knowledge in film/reels.

"Get Ready" is, oddly enough, just a trailer for the International Film Festival Viennale '99. It's not common for us to review a trailer, but Peter Tscherkassky makes sure that this trailer becomes another reel experiment and a little adventure of its own. Of course, slightly more pop cultural in its execution (mostly the music) to attract people. Not a lot is really on display, but it makes it quite clear what sort of festival we're talking about. And that's what a trailer is for, innit?

I wasn't going to review the bonus short, but I might as well. "Miniaturen - Viele Berliner künstler in Hoisdorf" (a.k.a. "Miniatures - Many Berlin Artists in Hoisdorf") is what you think from hearing the title. It's documentary footage from 1983, and quite literally shows us different artists present at an art showing. To no surprise, the footage has been messed around with quite a bit, giving us that familiar Peter Tscherkassky alien-like presentation. Not a documentary that you'll feel educated after watching, but rather one for fans of Tscherkassky and artists in general.

All in all, if you're interested in this kind of experimenting with reels and pre-existing footage, then Peter Tscherkassky is one of the most interesting names in my opinion. The CinemaScope Trilogy makes this one worth it, although I would've wished there was slightly more in here. I don't know what his filmography consists of exactly, so perhaps these are the ones most appropriate to put next to each other. Either way, it is what it is: experiments. You probably know what you think of that sort of thing, so deciding if to watch this won't be a problem! I find myself trying really hard to review these out of my feelings when watching them instead of just thoughts/opinions, since there's no form of storytelling in here.

Positive things:
- Peter Tscherkassky manages to interest me more than similar artists of archived footage.
- The CinemaScope Trilogy.
- Must be intense in a screening room.

Negative things:
- Would've liked to see slightly more shorts, to make up for having some unwhelming things in here (that I suppose are interesting in their own rights).

Gore: 0/5
Nudity: 2/5
Story: 1.5/5
Effects: 3/5
Comedy: 0/5

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