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Film Scratches: Monuments to Guilt – Schuld Sind Alle (2014)

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Film Scratches focuses on the world of experimental and avant-garde film, especially as practiced by individual artists. It features a mixture of reviews, interviews, and essays.

A Review by David Finkelstein.

Schuld Sind Alle is Viktor Dill’s thoughtful five-minute Super8 elegy to the Invalid’s Cemetery in Berlin. The film begins with a black screen, accompanied by the low, mournful melody of Jonal Arndt’s cello music. Throughout the film, Jarula M.I. Wegner reads his poetic text, in which he compares the cemetery to the cinema, both repositories of the dead. The cemetery wall, unadorned concrete, also served as a section of the wall which divided the Eastern and Western sectors of the city, the wall where people were killed when they tried to cross over it. The cemetery site, in Wegner’s poem, also glorifies the dead and hides the atrocities and horrors of war.

Dill’s photography dwells on the headstones, the names of the soldiers, the wall, the bleak winter trees devoid of leaves, the barbed wire, and the fascist sculptures of eagles. He repeatedly pans across one sign: “Alle Sind an Allem Schuld” (everyone is guilty of everything). This collectivization of guilt can be seen either as a noble attempt to take fuller responsibility, or as a cowardly ploy for individuals to avoid their personal responsibility for their actions.

Arndt’s music turns more anguished and agitated as the handheld camera dwells on a German flag seen through the barbed wire fence. By combining this poetic text, deep with historical resonance, with elegiac music and a meditative visual exploration of the site, Dill amplifies our experience of the cemetery into a multilayered examination of the connections between war, responsibility, history, and the design of memorial sites.

David Finkelstein is a filmmaker, musician, and critic. For more information on Film Scratches, or to submit an experimental film for review, contact lakeivan@earthlink.net.

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