Guy Maddin set out to adapt a ten year-old Wired
magazine article, the result would probably look a lot like this, but the
resulting film would not be so smugly assured of its insightfulness. That must
be the difference between the Canadian and Austrian temperaments. Martin
Reinhart, Thomas Tode, and Manu Luksch suggest our current digital era is only
one of many successive information revolutions that constantly recalibrated the
speed of Twentieth Century life. They will illustrate their point through the
collage of rarely seen but suitably ironic early cinema clips that constitutes Dreams Rewired (trailer here), opening this
Wednesday at Film Forum.
perhaps the more things change, the more they stay the same—or rather maybe the
only constant is change? One of those is the general gist of Rewired. The trio of co-directors plus
their fourth co-screenwriter Mukul Patel somewhat convincingly suggest the
magnitude of innovation wrought by the internet and wireless communication is
not so very different than societal transformation brought about by the
telegraph, telephone, radio (the original wireless), and forms of moving
probably have a point there, but they never really take it to a deeper level.
Instead, the film is really more about the cascading images of retro-futurism
and technological anxiety culled from the films of Thomas Edison, Alice Guy, Dziga Vertov,
Carl Dreyer, Rene Clair, and Louis Feuillade. Both Chaplin and Keaton make
cameo appearances, but probably the most readily identifiable clips come from
Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin,
which turned out not to reflect the future after all.
Rewired, the audience waits for
Reinhart, Tode, Luksch, and Patel to step up their analysis, but it stays at
the level of “look at how impressed people were with their televisions and
switch boards.” As a result, the real reason for watching the docu-essay is the
wild imagery they have assembled. If you want to see Teutonic men in tights and
space helmets, this is film you have been waiting for. A game Tilda Swinton
also plays along, narrating the repetitive thesis and sometimes providing
archly anachronistic contemporary dialogue for some of the scenes the
If you enjoy retro-futuristic space opera, there
are amusing bits and pieces in Rewired,
but you are probably better off revisiting episodes of Tom Corbett, Space Cadet or classic films like Metropolis and Destination
Moon (neither of which suited the purposes of Reinhart, etc., etc.). It
sounds like brainy fun, but it really plays like an internet supercut.
Problematically lightweight, Dreams
Rewired is bound to leave viewers wanting more (of something, anything)
when it opens this Wednesday (12/16) in New York, at Film Forum.
Labels: Austrian Cinema, Documentary, Retro-Futurism, Tilda Swinton