Mittwoch, 15. August 2012

Carl Andersen - Rest in Peace!

The underground film maker Carl Andersen died on August, 3, at the age of 54 in Berlin. Thanks a lot for bringing so much strange films to us via the great Negativland video library.  Rest in peace, Carl!

Die Sehnsucht nach dem Mehr (2000)
The Films Of Carl Andersen.

 by Anneliese Holles, London, 2008.

The Austrian born Carl Andersen is perhaps one of the few contemporary Auteurs to have devoted his films almost entirely to the subject of women. How they tick and how they relate to each other, and to men, is almost an obsession, a fetish only capable of being exorcised by the likes of his unlikely muse, Malga Kubiak. His films, which chiefly address the weighty issue of why relationships (especially sexual ones,) dont

Andersens Märchen von der Liebe (2001)
function, often have dark beginnings; for example „Eiszeit“, whose ice cold opening sequence depicts one woman vigourously masturbating another, fully clothed, or the desperate beginning sequence of „Chien Fuck“, with its bitch director figure, who demands so much from her lover that he can no longer „perform.“

Cult films from the 60s and 70s by obscure directors such as Vilgot Sjöman, José Benazeraf, Jesus Franco, Lothar Lambert and Jean Rollin are the chief influences of Andersen’s films. However, unlike so many films from the 60s and 70s, ie: Cassavetes, and Bergmann (whose female darkness is at times overwhelming), Andersen’s films have an extraordinary quotient, which makes them highly original and very uncommercial; in recent times he has evolved a hybrid; a mock documentary look and feel that can really confuse the viewer; in „Chien Fuck“ I was so convinced that the „director“ character was really the director that I asked myself what were her feelings about being filmed; only to find out in the end credits that she is essentially a fictional character; just as the rest of the „interviewed“ ex lovers are. This is an astounding technique, and one which is rarely talked about by other reviewers of Andersen’s films. The sex, which is full on and often explicit, is always the thing that gets talked about. Which, actually is Andersen’s point! Why do we have such a „thing“ about sex when it is such a normal, daily activity, why should it be censored, or artificially portrayed, as it is in 90 percent of the films we see? Indeed, the sex in his films can get in the way of seeing the real issue, as illustrated so humourously in „Lick An Apple Like A Pussy“, which deals with the fascinating subject of how actors avoid doing the real thing; how much energy is wasted in talking and thinking about why they shouldnt have sex, rather than just getting on and seeing it as part of their job.

This essential Narcissism is also a part of Andersen’s oeuvre. „Mondo Weirdo“, his second film, has none of the documentary aspects of the later films, but it is a surreal fantasyland of voyeurism and bisexual acts. „Sehnsucht Nach Dem Mehr“ is a very Nouvelle Vague pondering on what the actors think about the director, which I personally found insufferable and claustrophically narcissistic, almost approaching „Big Brother“!

If there is anyone who can claim to make film for women, about women, and on the side of women, then it’s Andersen, even with his sometimes highly unsympathetic female characters. He is trying to represent the world as it is; often using non actors, normal looking people as opposed to models, and showing every malfunctional and destructive aspect of relationships, because that’s what is real to him. The „ugliness“ in women can also be their strength, and vice versa. It takes an actress as strong as Kubiak to cope with the uglier side of Andersen’s anima.

The lightness in his films is, however, just as omnipresent, and comes most often through the medium of music. Music inspires and lightens every dark corner in his work, and makes those films highly enjoyable. Music features heavily in „Mondo Weirdo“, where the erotic and sexual sequences are like fantasies without dialogue; and in „Chien Fuck“, which is heavy on dialogue, and uses the music to divert and uplift in the form of a small documentary montage about a Berlin band.

Andersen’s films are life affirming in a „Dogma“ sense; if you can run fast enough behind the shaky camera, and not turn away during the unflinchingly upclose sex, you will see the reflection of the flawed but beautiful fragility that all humans possess; and that is Andersen’s charm; a very modern, honest and unconventional cinema, for those that are ready.


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