Friday, 9 April 2010
science-fiction a la Tarkovsky: KRAFTVERK 3714
Until recently my favourite self-funded digital film has been Miguel Coyula's award-winning RED COCROACHES. Now it's been pushed off the top by Markus Widegren's original KRAFTVERK 3714.
When putting the DVD on, I was a little worried by the running time stated on the sleeve: 136 minutes (in my opinion a good enjoyable film shouldn't really run over 75). My worries were in vain. KRAFTVERK 3714 doesn't drag or feel padded at any stage. I actually didn't want it to end.
KRAFTVERK 3714 is hard to categorize. On a superficial level it is about aliens appearing in a remote rural area. So, if one had to label it, it would be a "sci-fi movie" label. Only it would be more fun to enthusiasts of Andrey Tarkovsky and Lars Von Trier than to STAR WARS fans.
I loved the main characters who in the first half of the movie were just normal people doing normal things. It's a great achievement on the part of the director that the build-up doesn't feel routine or tiresome despite lack of superficial action. A lot of filmmakers today are afraid to use the zoom. Such is not the case with director/cinematographer Markus Widegren, who doesn't shy away from some adventurous shots and camera moves, creating a pleasantly unusual mise-en-scene.
I will not give away any of the plot, which is full of mystery and unanswered questions but remains interesting due to believable characters and good structure. The finale is actually pretty mind-blowing with some over-the-top action, stunts and crazy moments that reminded me a little of Takashi Miike's DEAD OR ALIVE final battle.
After the atmospheric opening the film could take a wrong turn. Too many nice premises get wasted in both studio and self-funded films. I was afraid the usual "alien invasion" clichés would kick in, with lots of stupidity, screaming and running around. Well, there was some screaming and running around (not to mention sex and explosions) in KRAFTVERK 3714. But none of it is done in a typical predictable way. Thankfully, characters don't do anything idiotic that could make the viewer hate them.
Screenwriters Markus Widegren and Fred Andreson obviously know a thing or two about their craft. Throughout the film I was glued to the screen, not knowing what the hell was going on but finding the whole thing fascinating. The story does come together in the end, after much mystery, and the few ambiguous moments that remain unresolved still somehow manage to work on a level of dream logic, like in Coscarelli's classic PHANTASM.
My favourite piece of music has got to be the melody playing when Elizabeth (Sandy Mansson) who's shopping at her local supermarket discovers that all the customers have been abducted by aliens.
KRAFTVERK 3714 gives one hope that the future of self-funded independent film is bright.Unfortunately, unless you contact independent filmmakers directly, their amazing films remain quite hard to find today.
I know that I'll be revisiting KRAFTVERK 3714 before long. So many things that I consider beautiful and essential in good cinema come together in this unique film.
KRAFTVERK 3714 (Sweden, 2005)
Directed by Markus Widegren
Written by Markus Widegren, Fred Anderson
Starring Sandy Mansson, Maria Bergguist, Emil Jonsson, Michael Mansson, Fred Anderson.