Yvonne Rainer's Journeys From Berlin/1971

Friday, June 1, 2001, 12:00pm - 12:00pm
"In Journeys From Berlin/1971 (1980, 125m) there are five characters: a man, woman, and adolescent girl who 'apppear' only on the sound track; a female psychoanalytic patient in her early 50's; and a therapist, or analyst, played alternately by a man, woman, and nine year old boy. The speech of the analytic session is synchronous with the image. The voice-over of the other three people bears a constantly shifting relationship to a recurrent gamut of images: views from a moving train window and various apartment windows in Berlin, London, and New York; tracking shots in close-up, scanning a mantlepiece cluttered with objects; aerial views of Stonehenge and the Berlin Wall; and a sequence of highly formalized editing that deals with a man and woman walking in an outdoor urban space. The patient reminisces, falls asleep, harangues the analyst, complains generally, and finally gets around to examining her own suicide attempt which took place in Berlin in 1971. The man and woman of the sound track prepare dinner and read to each other from the writings of various revolutionaries. The inevitable comparisons are made - and rejected - between 19th century Russian and contemporary German acts of political violence. Interwoven with these voices is the voice of the adolescent girl reading from a (her?) diary kept during the 1950's. The subject matter of the film is pursued and elaborated in parallel - sometimes contingent, sometimes contrasting - investigations of political violence/suicide; self-determination/the power of the State; psychological introspection/political engagment; self knowledge/altruism; and American/European relations to these matters. The film utilizes formal strategies that gained prominence in the premises of 60's art and dance-making, namely, the inherent expressiveness of quotidian gesture and imagery and the relativity of meaning resulting from 'radical', random, or ambiguous juxtapositions. Such juxtapositions occur repeatedly in Journeys from Berlin/1971, at times producing an almost vaudevillian effect, as when the patient addresses the boy-analyst and compares procreation to the internal combustion engine." -CFMDC Website "In intensive sessions with her psychiatrist, Annette Michelson indulges in stream-of-consciousness rambling, augmented by fragmentary surrealistic shots culled from modern Berlin and revolutionary Russia. Leon Trotsky makes a "guest appearance" as an obscene phone caller! Rainer invites the viewer not only to observe but also to participate vicariously in Annette's mental side trips, choreographing her imagery as deftly as she previously staged her numbers at New York's Judson Dance Theater." -from the All-Movie Guide
Co-sponsored by Experimental Film Club, Festival of the Arts (FOTA)