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Friday, 14 December 2012

A long overdue review

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2012
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


14 December

The review was started at the time of the Festival, and not finished (and approved by the film's director) that long afterwards, but I have kept failing to put it on here :

In Emily Kuhnke’s short film Der Aufzug (2012), the lift to which the title refers is not so much everything’s setting as an ever-present character, eavesdropping – even when the lift-boy feigns not to – on what people’s words and actions portend. It is the eccentric sort of lift that would have delighted Franz Kafka – who gave us other lifts at the Hotel Occidental in his novel Der Verschollene – and which he might have imagined.

Unlike, though, Kafka’s Karl Rossmann, our lift-boy is not slow to take everything in or to pretend to be part of the furniture, and he does not always need to be told where to take his passengers (we might infer that they are not all strangers, even if they may believe in their anonymity).

The script, by Billy MacKinnon (whom I know from Hideous Kinky (1998), but also Brilliantlove (2010) (on which he was script editor, and which came to Cambridge Film Festival)) is a fairly sparse one, but it covers a lot of ground, and the way that it has been realized, sparing us a lift-door, allows us to concentrate on the lift, who is in it, and occasionally the whirring and clicking mechanism – a contrast with the simplicity of the fore-and-back lever that is used to engage it.

We are no more meant to wonder at how it works or why it is as it is than we are at the era, which could be the 1930s or 70s, because the characters are dressed, and almost behave in, a style reminiscent of painters such as Otto Dix or, probably more likely, Max Beckmann, and their stylization hints at a signification beyond their own individual character.

Nothing is wasted in the direction, and there are no unnecessary pauses, so twelve minutes seem quite intense, and, although the lift-boy seems unconcerned about being relieved, there is the pent-up sense of a trap (He claims to have inferred the external world correlating with what has appeared in his conveyance (but he might just be showing off to the other boy – or he may have read too much Hume).)

Kuhnke makes us glad to see outside, but whether it is Fasching, Wahnsinn or alien invasion is open to interpretation...


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