Die Geträumten (The Dreamed Ones)
black, full of language: named
after an oath which silence annulled
And once (when? That too is forgotten)
feel the barb
where my pulse dared the counter-beat.
All Souls by Paul Celan
Paul Celan’s words hint at his relationship with Ingeborg Bachman and the importance of language at the centre of that. What better way to capture the powerful romance between two of the most important poets of the German language in the 20th century, Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann, than through their words. Passionately brought to life by two young, theatrical actors (Anja Plaschg and Laurence Rupp) in the immaculate setting of Vienna’s Funkhaus, their 20-year correspondence acts as a springboard to resurrect the star-crossed lovers.
The concept is deliberately anti-cinematic and there are times when director Ruth Beckermann struggles to keep the audience’s attention fixed on the dialogue. The performance of the actors is what brings vigour and intrigue to the poet’s intellectual, sprawling conversation, and for the most part both actors use everything at their disposal (their bodies and the setting) to conjure the spirits of the lovers faithfully. Furthermore, the film is peppered with nimble camerawork and mercurial editing, which helps avoid stasis and stagnation. There are times where the experiment feels more like an audiovisual piece, more welcome in a contemporary art gallery than a cinema. The letters cover a vast variety of subjects and preserve the longing, accusations, doubt, alienation, silence and passion between the Austrian and the Jewish poet from Ukraine: two separate worlds bridged by language. Beckermann does well to display the process behind the performance, as it is fascinating to watch the actors break down the texts, struggle with them and add their own personal interpretation to the words.
Die Geträumten is an intriguing experiment that presents a novel way of reconstructing a relationship, but it may be too esoteric and lead-footed for some viewers.
Die Geträumten does not have a UK release date yet.
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