Director Vesely Marek
Writer, producer Helmut Michael Kemmer
Austrian filmmakers Vesely Marek and Helmut Michael Kemmer in their experimental film “Formation” tried to prove that all scenario textbooks should be immediately thrown in the trash. In fact, the film has no drama, no plot, and even no characters. Moreover, there are no dialogues in the film. But at the same time, this is not a silent movie.
In fact, the film consists of separate images and symbols. But they are so organically intertwined with each other that they form a living tissue. This work does not look like a set of individual episodes glued together. On the contrary, here each scene follows from the previous one. The link between the scenes is the «Moderator» (Manuel Dragan). This is not a character in a movie in the traditional sense. It cannot interfere with the development of events and he can’t change anything. Moreover, he is not seen by people who are present in various episodes. Thus, the film claims to be a social parable that combines grotesque and absurdity.
So, a beautiful Austrian landscape. The first scene, where modern European youth marches in formation, evokes associations with the history of twentieth-century Europe, where various types of totalitarianism took place Europe has freed itself from the heavy legacy of the past, but where has it come to? The Moderator appears literally out of nowhere. The word “moderator » comes from the Latin «moderor» (to hold). This word has retained its original meaning in modern language. Now moderators are those who keep an eye on the rules of discussions, whether they are online or offline. So what does the moderator do and why is he needed in the movie?
Strictly speaking, nothing happens in the movie. Yes, we see people who are engaged in something, but there is no plot and drama. In other words, we see ordinary scenes from life. However, in everyday life, as we know, there is also no drama. Drama in everyday life occurs at the moment when a person has to make a choice. In this film, the characters live a normal life: eating, having sex, playing computer games, or just walking. Therefore, the Moderator is the only character that can attract the viewer’s attention. As we have already noticed, there is no dialogue in the film. The Moderator delivers endless monologues, but he is not talking to the characters, but to the audience. Strictly speaking, monologue is not the language of cinema. Monologue is the language of theater. Moreover, if you dig deeper, the monologue is a special case of dialogue. The author of the monologue speaks to someone who does not respond to him.
So, here is a theater in natural settings, filmed on camera. The acting of Manuel Dragan is deliberately theatrical. His plasticity, speech, facial expressions, and emotions create the impression of a performance. His character comments on the surrounding reality, and utters pathos theatrical monologues. But the director does not explain why the moderator came to this place. It failed to have any effect on people.
The last scene of the film gives a hint of the Moderator’s role. What if the Moderator created this world? And so he visited his creation, but saw that no one needed his speech. And in the last scene, he is watching TV, which shows the war. The Moderator shows his disappointment with all his appearance. If he is the Creator of the world, he clearly regrets it.
This bold and daring experiment pushes the boundaries of cinema, unites cinema and theater, and also contains a deep humanistic idea.