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by Siegfried A. Fruhauf

grade: 8.5

In Realtime, practically nothing else is needed for Cinema to show up on the movie screen in all its communicative power. In little more than four minutes, the magic happens. The viewer is hypnotised.

The magic on the movie screen

Light, movement and sound. These are the three elements necessary for cinema to come to life. And often there is not even a need for special effects or elaborate scripts for a film to be shown on the movie screen in all its visual and aural power. The theories of Peter Kubelka, who is known for his ‘extreme’ and highly experimental short films, are clearly based on this concept, as far as the concept of staging itself and the constant search for pure forms of cinema are concerned. Watching the short film Realtime, the director Siegfried A. Fruhauf, who has always been used to experimenting with every possible form of mise-en-scène (both in terms of animated and live-action cinema), seems to be of the same opinion, although he is decidedly less ‘extreme’ than his colleague Kubelka.

In Realtime, however, Fruhauf seems more extreme than ever. On a totally black screen we see, at the bottom, a small yellow spot slowly appear. This spot gradually moves towards the centre of the frame, only to reveal itself to be a celestial body. A celestial body that moves following a very precise orbit and which, therefore, makes it easy for us to predict where it is going to position itself. But then, why do we feel this strong sense of suspense while watching Realtime?

Here, then, music comes into play. Essential, extremely minimalist music, skilfully reworked for the occasion by Jürgen Gruber and Christoph Ruschak. A music capable of raising not only a strong sense of suspense, but also a kind of expectation on the part of the viewer himself. In what way will Siegfried A. Fruhauf will stop observing such a star? How will his approach to what is happening before his camera change?

In Realtime, therefore, there is practically no need for anything else for Cinema to manifest itself on the movie screen in all its communicative power. In little more than four minutes, then, the magic happens. The viewer is hypnotised. Siegfried A. Fruhauf knows perfectly well when to interrupt his work and, at the same time, gives us a few essential minutes of pure beauty. Documentary cinema, experimental cinema, pure cinema. Realtime can be categorised in many different ways, while fully belonging to each of these categories. And in classifying itself as one of the most extreme and minimalist works by the director from Grieskirchen, it confirms once again the extraordinary talent of its author in playing with the cinematic medium, never afraid to dare or to try new paths. If one ever experiments, one never evolves. And Siegfried A. Fruhauf seems to have made this concept his own for a long, long time now.

Original title: Realtime
Directed by: Siegfried A. Fruhauf
Country/year: Austria / 2002
Running time: 4’
Genre: experimental
Screenplay: Siegfried A. Fruhauf
Cinematography: Siegfried A. Fruhauf
Produced by: Siegfried A. Fruhauf

Info: the page of Realtime on iMDb; the page of Realtime on the website of the sixpackfilm; the website of Siegfried A. Fruhauf