Thursday, 29 November 2012

Tales of Magical Realism

Tales of Magical Realism (part 2)
follows on from Sven Werner's successful Cryptic Night, leading the audience, one by one, through four more episodes of the film-maker's mechanical film installation. A narrative, half beat poet and half hard-boiled detective, guides the viewer through the peep-show theatres housed inside Tramway 4's elongated space, evoking the romanticism of a childhood journey that slowly sours into a totalitarian nightmare.

While waiting for the funding for his film to arrive - Werner admits that this can be a slow process - he decamped to Glasgow and began work on what would become these short scenarios. It is difficult to define Tales: starting off with a small band and a chained dancer, the main presentation is divided into four short stories, each with their own viewing booth. Thanks to the headphones, every audience member must listen along, and the booths shut off the outside world. This magic is a solitary experience.

Three of the scenes are dedicated to travel - on a train, meeting a taxi at the station, the journey to a mythical city in the back of the taxi - while the fourth is, ironically, the destination: the viewer now having to cycle to power the light, and the character trapped in a factory that seems to generate light from human exertion. The anticipate of the first three chapters is cunningly flipped: the excitement of the open road's potential replace by the stasis of the city. Having built up the romance, Werner bleakly shifts gear, concluding on a despairing vision of modernity where humans are not replaced by machines but are forced to act like them.

The use of black and white imagery gives Tales a nostalgic atmosphere: the story is dream-like, and the music, which seems to have come from David Lynch's lost films, never lets the tension break. The sonorous voice, the matter-of-fact description of fantastic happenings, the hyper-real vision of the final destination: Werner catches the strict attention to detail and the loose symbolism that made magical realism bold and exciting when it first appeared from Latin America.

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