Mannerlaatta (Tectonic Plate)
The difficulty in reviewing a film like Mannerlaatta (Tectonic Plate) is that it demands much from the viewer in order for it to be a success, primarily because the genre’s intention is to challenge the established consensus of what a film actually is. Tectonic Plate is, at its core, a letterist film: the film’s visual component is created entirely without the use of a camera. In this instance, the images are created using a series of photogram techniques. The images are created via photocopying documents and pictures directly onto film leader, or by exposing objects directly onto 35mm film. What we are left with is a frenetic and discordant collection of images where the shot composition often obscures the meaning of familiar imagery: words moving en masse across the screen, too quickly to take in, recognisable signs or iconography are superimposed or too far away to make out, and all the while Mika Vainio’s exceptional soundscape of lo-fi sounds, static, feedback and discordancy remains omnipresent throughout the experience.
The “story” is relayed through cryptic messages from an unnamed protagonist – a traveller taking a long haul business trip from Tokyo before he is stuck in a hotel in Helsinki. The piece’s accompanying paratext often says that it is about the fear of flying, timezones and security checks. The success of the film is dependent on whether it is capable of relaying and simulating through its cinematography the inner workings of this individual’s consciousness, panicked, unstable, overstimulated to the point of incoherence and and breaking down their sense of reality. Dreams conflate with memory, the consciousness unravels and it seems the mind is constantly being dragged in multiple directions at once. The music often walks in tandem with the visual, then jarringly detaches itself from the image to seemingly pursue its own agenda. Ultimately, the experience is purposefully crafted to be incoherent with occasional moments of lucidity.
Reviewing Tectonic Plates as a film is a challenge because it really is not a film, nor is it intended to be. Letterism found its roots in destabilising traditional conceptions of art; the intention is to offend, to challenge, to bore and to frustrate. The ideal scenario is for the viewer to let go of their ideas of what a film should be and, if they open themselves to what that offers, they may find themselves enjoying a type of cinematic experience they haven’t before. It isn’t accessible, it isn’t coherent and it often frustrates. In the words of the unnamed protagonist: “it wasn’t pleasant, it was an experience”.
Mannerlaatta (Tectonic Plate) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more of our reviews and interviews from the festival here.
For further information about Berlin Film Festival 2016 visit here.
Watch the trailer for Mannerlaatta (Tectonic Plate) here:
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