by Peter Tscherkassky
Peter Tscherkassky is without question one of the most innovative and interesting avant-garde filmmakers to have emerged from Austria during the last 25 years. He exclusively uses found footage, which is then heavily edited in his dark room. In a laboriously process, he manually alters every single frame until he has the results he is satisfied with. Tscherkassky has explained his love for very dense films with multiple layers and that is exactly what his films look like. Take for instance his highly acclaimed film ‘Outer Space’ which uses scenes from the 1981 horror film ‘The Entity’, but reorganizes them in such a way it becomes a totally different film altogether. In the original film, a woman is attacked by unseen forces and is sexually harassed by them. In Tscherkassky’s film, the woman is still attacked, but not only by unseen forces, but also by the film itself, so to speak. The film begins relatively unaltered, but grows more dense and frenetic as the film progresses, keeping in line with the suspense of the original movie. But when the woman is attacked, Tscherkassky injects a total new narrative -one of the film itself- and increases the amount of layers almost to the point of invisibility, until he finally tears his entire film apart, leaving only the clear film leader; the film then gradually reinvents itself. In this process, Tscherkassky exposes the mechanism of film, while at the same time tells a story, and it is exactly this tension between film structural preoccupations and narrative ones that seems to be central to Tscherkassky’s art. He considers himself a narrative filmmaker, but is just as well interested in the construction of the medium film itself. He uses deconstruction as a form of construction and tries to show us an alternative way of film narrative as opposed to the classical Hollywood narratives. In doing so, Tscherkassky not only presents us with the most beautiful and haunting images, but also forces us the rethink our conception of film and film narrative.
DVD Review: Index DVD - Region 0 - PAL
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Region 0 - PAL
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Studio: Index DVD
|Let me first say that I think this is one of the best DVD’s Index DVD has offered us so far, mainly thanks to the high quality of the films presented here. Peter Tscherkassky has quite a unique approach to filmmaking, resulting in some of the most exhilarating avant-garde films I’ve encountered. The artist himself has stated he was very happy with the transfers of this DVD, but also emphasized the difference between experiencing these works on a DVD like this and seeing them projected on the big screen. Having personally been through both experiences I can most certainly attest to this claim: when I saw these films in the cinema it was almost like I was experiencing completely different films, because the intensity of the light, the different layers of the films and the use of Cinemascope in some films, literally scream for projection on the big screen. But as these screenings are quite hard to come by, this DVD is an amazing substitute, perfectly suitable for home viewing. Also included is a printed interview with Tscherkassky and some short notes on the various films. Highly recommended.