carmen-1999-salomonowitz-recensione

CARMEN

      No Comments on CARMEN

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian) Deutsch (German)

by Anja Salomonowitz

grade: 7.5

Carmen is a bizarre yet tender and sincere love story that few would actually understand. Cinema and meta-cinema meet in this short and precious documentary by Anja Salomonowitz, and together they create a beautiful as well as melancholic contemporary tale. At the Viennale 2022, section Österreich real.

Pure love

Carmen Dido Martinek is not an ordinary person. Carmen could be considered by many to be a rather bizarre girl. No one (or almost no one) can really understand what she experiences every day. Given her undisputed “originality”, director Anja Salomonowitz wanted to show us her unusual story in the short documentary Carmen, made in 1999 and re-presented to the audience at the Viennale 2022, as part of the retrospective Österreich real of the Filmarchiv Austria.

The Schikaneder cinema, located in Vienna’s fourth district, signifies much more to Carmen than one might initially imagine. Indeed, she is completely in love with that cinema, to the point of considering it almost as a person, the one true love of her life. Initially used to sneak into the theatre (also in order to stay there to sleep), the woman later got herself hired as a cleaning lady, so as to spend as much time as possible there. What would happen, however, if her beloved cinema were to close forever to make way for a large supermarket?

In Carmen, therefore, Anja Salomonowitz wants to show us, through the singular story of a young woman, a reality that is in danger of disappearing forever. And if we think that this documentary of hers was filmed more than twenty years ago, we sadly realise how – especially after the pandemic – the situation has further worsened, given the large number of cinemas that have since closed their doors. Carmen, then, is a bizarre yet tender and sincere love story that few would really understand. Cinema and meta-cinema meet in this short and precious documentary by Anja Salomonowitz and, together, they give life to a beautiful as well as melancholic contemporary tale.

The camera of the director (and of cameraman Hannes Anderwald) shows us what usually happens during Carmen’s days. A simple and direct directorial approach shows us the woman stroking the seats in the auditorium, lying down on them before falling asleep when all the viewers have gone home, cleaning the cinema or returning briefly to her home for a quick shower. The protagonist confides before the camera with a dreamy and also rather naïve expression. Her boss – also interviewed by the director – has finally understood her feelings about the cinema.

While watching Carmen, we smile, but at the same time, we immediately feel close to its magnetic protagonist. Anja Salomonowitz observes her with affection and never judges her. Her Carmen is indeed a woman with a rather unusual passion, but also an extremely vulnerable and dreamy woman. Her love for Schikaneder cinema is a troubled, extremely complicated love, which could one day end due to external factors. And it is precisely because of this unusual and uncertain situation that their “love story” seems to us even more precious.

Original title: Carmen
Directed by: Anja Salomonowitz
Country/year: Austria / 1999
Running time: 23’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Anja Salomonowitz
Cinematography: Hannes Anderwald
Produced by: Anja Salomonowitz

Info: the page of Carmen on the website of Anja Salomonowitz; the page of Carmen on iMDb; the page of Carmen on the website of the sixpackfilm