Marseille

Screening on Film
Directed by Angela Schanelec.
With Maren Eggert, Emily Atef, Alexis Loret.
Germany/France , 2004, 35mm, color, 95 min.
French and German with English subtitles.

The film begins with a simple, auspicious premise: Sophie in Berlin switches flats for a while with a woman in Marseille. Her reasons are unclear. Anything could happen. Schanelec understands the actual depth and expanse of this proposition. What may appear to be a set-up to one particular narrative is only one part of a larger web of possibilities and stories, presented in varying degrees of focus and clarity. Both Sophie and the audience may be figuring out together the reasons for her carefree trip, the role of her photography and photography in general, her relationship to Ivan and to Hanna—an actress whose troubled persona on and off stage begins to dominate the film. Sophie’s eventual return to the film’s center coincides with her return to the blank slate of Marseille, only to receive an unexpected, jarring welcome. As Schanelec notes in a diary written during the making of the film, “I don’t want to explain anything, only report, like Walter Benjamin says: ‘present events, as it were, dry, draining them entirely of psychological explanations and opinions of every sort.’ They should speak sentences like involuntary gestures, sentences that they know nothing about and whose sound, should they even become aware of it, would surprise them.”

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