Column by Benedict Gehlken
Wait for 2020 they said. A new decade, it’s going to be great they said. Well… Not really. The last few weeks and months were defined by horrific events and atrocities. Thanks to our beloved Supreme Leader Mr. Donald J. Trump we were at the brink of World War III. Bushfires in Australia killed more than 1.5 billion animals and destroyed major parts of their natural landscapes. Justin Bieber released “Yummy”. And now we have to face a worldwide spreading killer virus, which has the same name as a medium good Mexican beer. Thanks 2020, great job so far.
Now take a guess how I, as a film buff, spend my time during this crisis. Correct: I wait in line at my local grocery store, trying to find one last roll of toilet paper even though I have 237 more back home. Yes, I’ve counted them. But all jokes aside, obviously I try to watch as many films as possible. And so I thought it’s the best idea to share some of my favorite films and websites that help me to get through my self-isolation and which might help you as well.
The Shining (1980)
You probably already know the meme: “Isolation time with the family. What could possibly go wrong?” And you probably already know the movie I’m talking about here: Stanley Kubrick’s horror masterpiece “The Shining”. Eerie images, disturbing acting and a haunting soundtrack are just a few reasons why you should watch this classic.
To summarize the plot of “The Shining” is quite easy. Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) accepts a caretaker job at the Overlook Hotel, where he, along with his wife Wendy (Shelly Duvall) and their son Danny (Danny Lloyd), must live isolated from the rest of the world for the winter. But they aren’t prepared for the madness that lurks within. What happens now is a perfect representation of what isolation, abuse and the loss of sanity looks like.
“The Shining” is not just one of the best book adaptions, it is, in my opinion, the best adaption of a Stephen King novel ever and arguably the best horror film of all time. Period.
South by Southwest Short Films
Due to the current situation many cinemas, venues and festivals had to be closed, rescheduled or canceled. For the internationally acclaimed interactive media, music and film festival “South by Southwest” (SXSW) this is the case as well. Thankfully the organizers allow us to watch all of their nominated short films online for free. “While we can’t replace the camaraderie of the SXSW festival, watching these films is a way to support the artists you love and connect to the world around you, during a time when we could all use a little more connection”, they have explained in a statement.
My personal favorite is Nicole Bazuin’s “Modern Whore”. A short documentary/ film about Andrea Werhun’s part-time job experiences as a sex worker. The film is beautifully shot, funny, clever and it gives interesting insights into the life of a young American escort.
You can see all the short films here.
“What was it? A meteorite? A visit of inhabitants of the cosmic abyss?” Nobody knows. Neither do I. But what I do know is that Andrei Tarkovsky’s philosophical and psychological sci-fi epic “Stalker” is one of my favorite films. And it might also be the best film to watch during the Corona Crisis.
As “The Criterion Collection” puts it: “Stalker” is a metaphysical journey through an enigmatic post-apocalyptic landscape and a rarefied cinematic experience like no other. A hired guide, the Stalker, leads a writer and a professor into the heart of the ZONE, the restricted site of a long-ago disaster, where the three men eventually zero in on the ROOM, a place rumored to fulfill one’s most deeply held desires.
“Stalker” is one of those movies that prove that the medium film is just as important as other art forms like music or literature. Everyone must see this film at least once in their lifetime. (THAT’S AN ORDER!) But to be honest, once is definitely not enough.
I know it’s hard to find arthouse films like “Stalker” online but in this case, it’s the easiest thing in the world. That is because the Russian production company “Mosfilm” has a YouTube channel where they have released dozens of their films for free, in high quality and with subtitles in several languages. So if you want to watch Stalker right now, which you should, you can see it right here.
The Berlin-based arthouse cinema “Arsenal”, a well-known institution in the city’s Film-Aficionado-Scene, also had to close due to the current crisis. And sadly, like many other cinemas around the globe, it has to fight for its existence. But the people at “Arsenal” are way to passionate about and dedicated to cinema. Just like “South by Southwest” they provide a variety of films by creators from all over the world for free. As if a killer virus could stop them from giving people what they need: good movies.
“We may no longer be able to make use of our physical premises, but cinema is also a social space. It consists of filmmakers and artists, their films, the audience, and Arsenal, as an institution and its staff that remain lively and engaged both in the analogue world as well as the digital one.”
The Project is called “Arsenal 3”, because now, additionally to the two film screens they have in real life, they created a third one. And this one is online. Every week you will find new movies by different filmmakers from Egypt, Brazil, Turkey, the US, Germany and many more.
You can find “Arsenal 3” here.
How films can help
The next few weeks and months are going to be difficult, I know. The isolation and deprivation of social contacts will influence all of us. Depending on who is governing your country you may also worry that they won’t make the right decisions, in a time when we need those more than ever.
Obviously, films can’t help you with those issues. But what they can do is making the time you have to spend at home easier. You can finally watch the three hour classic which you always wanted to see but never found the time for. You can broaden your mind by watching films from foreign countries, made by people with different perspectives and worldviews. You can watch films that challenge some of your views on the world, films that make you rethink something. Films that make you cry and films that make you laugh.
When Philosophy student Benedict Gehlken is not overseeing the important questions of life, his attention is preferably turned to the big screen. In his column „Moving images, moving times“, the film aficionado dedicates himself to the classics, such as works of the modern age, takes a look behind the curtains and shows us how the moving picture is moving us nowadays.
To be continued…