Sunday, 14 November 2010


In multimedia artist Péter Forgács’ fiction film Own Death, the protagonist is heard and often not seen, presented to the viewer through found footage and photographs as he describes his life after the near-death experience of a heart attack. The protagonist, assumed to be a publisher or printer, is very aware of his physical vulnerability and often refers to his reaction to his environment (sweat and muscular pains being particular favourites). But as he unravels each moment of pain or suffocation, the images suggest a secret joie de vivre, a longing to fulfil the dreams he had almost lost forever. Occasional segments of text, echoing the narration, appear across the screen in a typewriter serif.

Forgács’ interpretation of Péter Nádas’ novella is reminiscent of Peter Greenaway, creating a new text from several existing texts, and the bricolage of dozens of people’s lives hint at reincarnation or a desire to be anyone else. Newly shot footage flows adds motion to an otherwise sedentary slideshow, and intimacy is afforded to images of fingers and faces through use of gentle musique concrète, care of Béla Tarr’s frequent collaborator Mihály Víg. Whether deliberate or not, the narration is frustratingly anodyne and monotone, and one wonders if we are meant to celebrate the protagonist’s ability to articulate his pain, or to merely suffer with him. Moreover, the man’s thoughts often feel repetitive and steal the footage of some great mythic potential. An intriguing experiment, but one that never leaps off the screen as it should.

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