The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills: …Or do they?
by Thomas Humphrey
- BERLIN 2015: Using the medium of film, Marcin Malaszczak takes complex concepts almost to the limits of discussion
How do we experience time? How does it pass, and can we recall the concrete actions that populate it? Perhaps you are now listlessly reading a review of an obscure German-Polish-American co-production featured in the 65th Berlinale's Forum programme. But how do you perceive time beyond that? Even if you knew, would your perception hold true for others? How are they passing time?
These are the sort of contemplative trails that Marcin Malaszczak slowly and humorously leads you down with his third film in the Forum programme (in as many years), The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills [+see also:
film profile]. Except this time, with his most personal stance yet, Malaszczak takes it upon himself to document the women in his life. And rather than just exposing you to a torrent of people, questions and time, this film somehow slows the present and gives you time to contemplate its passing.
The film is also highly experimental; it communicates with a sort of abstract enjambment that seems like poetry (indeed, the title comes from a collection of poems that Charles Bukowski wrote for his lover). Extraordinary attention is also paid to nuancing the film's framing, so strong, symmetrical, vertical lines often channel your eye towards one place or another. Perhaps more than any other recent movie, then, The Days... feels like a discussion about film and how it might be constructed differently.
Directorial sleight of hand often plays a part in this. Malaszczak temporarily prevents us from seeing a shower, for example, and instead presents us with a simulacrum: a shower curtain amusingly patterned with 3D drops. Or he gives us an almost Brechtian awareness of the screen before us by repeatedly filming his characters through the black mirrors of television sets, creating two layers of images. The Days... is therefore very much a dialectic piece, where things are communicated (or brought to the film by us) in binaries and absences as much as they are conveyed in literal documentary snippets.
So as reverential as Malaszczak's focus on women is, your mind unavoidably dwells on the absence of men. As much as he divides his film across geographical and linguistic boundaries (Australian, German and Polish), repetitions and an intense concentration on internal, domestic spaces allow us to symbolically surpass them. As much as he lyrically encompasses an entire female history, Malaszczak has had to discriminate between warm, fuzzy family parts (in grainy colour) and black-and-white adult parts. As much as he has differentiated between colourlessness and colour, grading has enabled him to switch between the two so subtly that you almost don't realise. And as much as he has effaced himself through formal dogmas, you can't help but be fascinated by how Malaszczak was present on the set. The Days... therefore constantly challenges you to scrutinise, and that is no mean feat.
The film is represented by sales company New Morning Films.