Klaus Wyborny – Bilder vom verlorenen Wort AKA Pictures of the Lost World (1971–1975)


For 50 minutes or so Pictures presents a series of static, or gently swaying images which are sometimes bucolic landscapes but more often industrial ones (sludgy harbours, power lines, abandoned railway stations or deserted factories). The interplay between the two sets of imagery is not simple. Wyborny photographs his modern ruins at their most ravishing – at dawn or sunset, partially reflected in the water or glimpsed through the trees. Shots recur throughout, optically printed into brilliant colours or else, given the washed out quality of fifth generation Xeroxes. As there are few people shown, one’s impression is of a planet that is populated mainly by cows, barges and hydraulic drills.

On the soundtrack, a pianist improvises a slow, chord-heavy piece that adds to an overall sense of lush melancholy. Towards the end, Wyborny begins to parody his own nostalgia. The images repeat in rapid-fire clusters while the pianist switches to a maddening seven-note phrase, playing it over and over, like a record stuck in a groove. In its mock symphonic form, the film is an ironic exaltation of the ‘pastoral ideal’ (still a strong strain in both British and German avant-garde films) as it celebrates the entropic beauty of the same infernal mills that drove Wordsworth in the countryside and Schiller to decry the ‘degeneration’ of European culture.’

DVD includes two version of the film, one with English voice-over, the other with German voice-over; note that only part of the film has spoken voice-over.


Language(s):English, German

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  1. Do you have subtitles available?

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