DAS RAD

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by Friedl vom Gröller

grade: 8.5

Das Rad by Friedl vom Gröller is the dream of a child. Or rather, of two children. Das Rad is a journey back in time, a return to childhood, a new discovery of oneself and the world around us. A new way of understanding reality that also reminds us of the great cinema of the past. At the Viennale 2021.

Perspectives

What we see is not always what it seems. Simple, isn’t it? Yet, this is not always so obvious. Sometimes, in fact, it is necessary to go back to childhood in order to fully understand the true essence of things. A pure, wonderfully childlike and innocent concept, which, however, is often difficult to stage. The renowned filmmaker, photographer and visual artist Friedl vom Gröller, however, seems to have found the right solution in her short film Das Rad, premiered at the Viennale 2021, where she is also present with another short film: 2020.

Das Rad is the dream of a child. Or rather, of two children. Das Rad is a journey back in time, a return to childhood, a new discovery of oneself and the world around us. A new way of understanding reality that also reminds us of the great cinema of the past. Two children are sleeping in their beds. Then, suddenly, we find ourselves in the open air. A child is doing a cartwheel. Some clouds cover the mountains on the horizon. But is it really like that or what we see, in reality, is something completely different?

Shot entirely on film, Das Rad immediately makes us think of Jean Vigo’s cinema and, at the same time, stands for something totally unique. The director, for her part, forgets her adulthood and briefly becomes a child again. In this precious little short film of hers, everything is possible. Dream and reality merge, blur, become one, to the point that it becomes impossible to distinguish one from the other. Where are the children, in reality? Do they sleep in their beds at night, or is theirs just an afternoon nap after a long day spent playing in the streets?

A few but significant shots transport us into a totally new world. The director’s camera is more agile than ever and, on occasion, is also ready to overturn, to follow the children’s movements, to show us exclusively their point of view. The shadows inside the bedroom contrast with the almost blinding light outside. And it is precisely with light and sophisticated plays of light and shadow that the director has often amused herself in the course of her long and honourable career.

Lights and shadows that dazzle us, that show us certain realities and then totally overturn our convictions. This is what happens in many of Friedl vom Gröller’s works, as well as in Das Rad, where everything is illusion and, at the same time, wonderful innocence. And in order to stage all this, only a few, but essential camera movements are needed. An apparently simple, but, in reality, much more complex film than it first seems, Das Rad. A true pearl of contemporary Austrian cinema that, in its sophisticated elegance, shows us what we see and what we do not see, takes us by the hand in a tender return to the past, and makes us live a beautiful dream from which we would never want to wake up.

Original title: Das Rad
Directed by: Friedl vom Gröller
Country/year: Austria / 2021
Running time: 3’
Genre: experimental
Screenplay: Friedl vom Gröller
Cinematography: Friedl vom Gröller
Produced by: Friedl vom Gröller

Info: the page of Das Rad on the website of the Viennale; the page of Das Rad on the website of sixpackfilm