Scenes from a War
Set in motion at the start is a game comprising fields and markings, present and past, visibility and invisibility. Fences—and ribbons, bleachers, a bit of forest, already divided into territories—refer to the inside and outside of the field, as does every image. The objects in the image and the use of the images blend once again when the members of a military history club appear to restage a battle of the red army against the Wehrmacht. The annual creation of this battlefield comprises the attempt, with maximal effort, to conjure up a realistic war scenario on the empty field. Annja Krautgasser’s film documents the event and, for its part, stages it: the arsenal of weapons meets with an arsenal of cinematic means, image tropes that are familiar to us from war films: the camera’s distance from events; the tele-objective; cut/counter-cut by means of which the conflicting parties steer towards one another; the pan with the fighter planes; the hectic zoom. The field, like the screen, must first be filled with the real-life markings of war (tanks and uniforms, pans and zooms).
Krautgasser intensifies the staging’s impression of reality, and quasi uncovers its artificiality: as movements of exclusion and the highlighting of certain aspects of reality, which, depending on the arrangement, yield a peaceful landscape or, like here, a battlefield; 1944 or the present. When the filmmaker remains seated on the bleachers in the end while the rest of the audience steps out onto the now empty field to gather shell casings, the film’s fundamental paradox is apparent, the reason for the eerie feeling that it leaves us with: generating images of war in order to remember them, is likewise the creation of war, which leaves behind physical traces in the landscape that remain until the field can be tilled again, because the image is empty again. (Alejandro Bachmann)
Translation: Lisa Rosenblatt
Annja Krautgasser, aka: [n:ja]