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DROWNED

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by Friedl vom Gröller

grade: 7.5

In Drowned, we see how Friedl vom Gröller staged her own death. To this end, therefore, the director made use of no less than two forms of artistic expression (poetry and music), in order to realise an entirely new and subjective work that finds its definitive fulfilment in film. At the Viennale 2022.

Poetry and music

Filming one’s own death. An undoubtedly fascinating operation that has already been attempted by several filmmakers around the world. Just think, for example, of the recent short film The Death of David Cronenberg, directed by the famous Canadian director with his daughter Caitlin in 2021. Could, then, a filmmaker like Friedl vom Gröller remain indifferent to such a possibility? Absolutely not. And, in fact, here she is at the Viennale 2022 with no less than two short films made this year: Drowned and Neue Fenster.

In Drowned, therefore, we see how the filmmaker and photographer staged her own death. To this end, then, Friedl vom Gröller has made use of no less than two forms of artistic expression (poetry and music), in order to realise an entirely new and subjective work that finds its definitive fulfilment in film. Starting, in fact, from the text Requiem vom ertrunkenen Mädchen by Bertold Brecht, the words magically take shape on screen and together with Lotte Lenya’s music give life to something totally new. Something simple and complex at the same time that in its elementary images holds quite deep meanings.

The director’s voice sings the words of Bertold Brecht. Meanwhile, on screen we can see images of streams, of visibly polluted water. Then, suddenly, what we do not expect: the director’s own body submerged in water. Drowned. What could have led to her untimely death? Friedl vom Gröller seems to want to open up a much broader discourse, a discourse that concerns the burning question of pollution and how it can be lethal for us human beings. This, at least, is one of the many possible interpretations of this fine short Drowned.

Yes, because, in fact, the filmmaker has often enjoyed, throughout her long and honourable career, making many short black-and-white films – all filmed strictly in Super 8 – in which extremely complex concepts are staged through simple, short images. Drowned is an example of this and, while watching it, one cannot fail to notice the subtle irony and self-irony typical of her cinema. Were it not, in fact, for the conditions of the water we see at the beginning of the short film, one might even think of it as a pure divertissement, made, in fact, with the sole purpose of staging one’s own death, while at the same time facing the not easy challenge of transforming a poem into cinema.

In just three minutes, then, Friedl vom Gröller has once again given us a little gem, studied in detail and extremely sophisticated. A further confirmation of her great talent, able to mould images to her liking, often creating an interesting blend of arts. In Drowned, poetry, music and cinema come together and create a new, beautiful harmony.

Original title: Ertrunken
Directed by: Friedl vom Gröller
Country/year: Austria / 2022
Running time: 3’
Genre: experimental
Cast: Friedl vom Gröller
Screenplay: Friedl vom Gröller
Cinematography: Friedl vom Gröller
Produced by: Friedl vom Gröller

Info: the page of Drowned on the website of the Viennale; the page of Drowned on the website of the sixpackfilm