Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Perestroika Reconstructed

An interesting afternoon's viewing of this epic film by Sarah Turner. Not having viewed the original piece, I couldn't say what the remix amounted to, but this work, a three-hour journey, does test the viewer's attention.

The first two hours amount to Turner's retracing of a 1987 train journey from Moscow to Siberia, her motives becoming clear over time: she wants to remember a lost friend who accompanied her on the earlier journey and later died there. She is also recovering from a bike accident.

Over the course of the later journey, it becomes clear that she is operating under certain rules imposed by "You", the unseen and unnamed companion who seems to be part film producer and part lover. "You" proves to be a testing foil for the narrator, checking she has taken her medicine and telling her stories that she comes to question about her own past.

And the film unspools as the narrator's attempt to reshape her own past and try to move on from her trauma. So far, so good, if long. But, the last hour traces another journey, this time by "You", as in "You are constantly watching the meter." It took me awhile to realise that this new "You" was in fact the narrator herself. This journey was a cab ride from London to Land's End, that I found quite comic in its haplessness, but I was the only one having a chuckle at this late moment in proceedings.

Sprawled on my beanbag, I watched my filmic companions, peering over my knees at the screen flickering with endless miles of Russian scenery, which finally resolved to mesmerising waves of mist rolling over Lake Baikal. It was strangely relaxing.