1981-1990ArthouseGermanyThomas Brasch

Thomas Brasch – Domino (1982)

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“Thomas Brasch’s Domino opens with glimpses of the Kurfürstendamm shrouded in snow, scenes of Christmas bustle. Lisa, a successful actress at the Schiller Theater, drops off her daughter at the Bahnhof Zoo and faces the presentiment of holidays to be spent alone. In the week to come, her life will come unraveled, her taken-for-granted security called into question. An undercurrent of the inexplicable and the unexpected will grip the artiste and ultimately sweep her into oblivion. Domino focuses on a woman living in abeyance…. Everywhere she turns the past seems to be on her trail: she confronts visions of her deceased mother (also an actress) while thinking of her own daughter. She learns that the director Lehrter, who seeks to engage her to star in his comeback production of Goethe’s Stella, may very well be her father [and learns also] of his internment in a concentration camp. Encounters on the street irritate and befuddle her. Passersby speak of mass unemployment, worry about pending war, and wander about sobbing, disoriented and confused….

Possessed by a present that has not yet arrived, occupied by a past that constantly poses itself unannounced at the most unexpected turns: Domino is a film about waiting whose protagonist stumbles into a historical vortex. Brasch, in contrast to Alfred Behrens [PFA 4/10/87], allows sites and spaces to become ciphers, symbolic representations of a lurking disquiet and an inexorable paralysis. Berlin acts as a collective storehouse of memories and traumas, a city whose past has been put on ice, a place where history opens up like a black hole to engulf the unwary. Time stands still and we have temps morts, the feeling of sitting in a waiting room, anticipating relief and succor…. To slow things down, to find a way of intensifying the immediate, to gain access to the mystery and magic in everyday objects and occurrences: Brasch’s film in the snow blends moments of impasse and epiphany.” Eric Rentschler for UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

In an extended, two-hour, black-and-white record of the mental disintegration of theatrical-star Lisa (Katharina Thalbach), director (Thomas Brasch) follows her life through a successful performance, a breakdown during another performance, the death of a director friend, constant intrusions into her apartment home, and domino games played against herself — with her mother cast as her imaginary opponent cast. Lisa’s world and the real world mix and mingle, tangled together as stability wanes. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi

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