Rainer Komers' quiet Pandemonium

By Mike Sperlinger, 10 April 2001

Mike Sperlinger retrieves a gem from London's Pandemonium Festival, Rainer Komers short film B224

Rumour has it that German filmmaker Rainer Komers came away from the Pandæmonium Festival 2001, held at the Lux Centre in London, promising to make his next project on video. Certainly his film B224, shot on ravishing 35mm, looked classical – almost anachronistic, even – in the context of Pandæmonium’s combustible mix of ‘daft punk cinema’. Composed mostly of static shots, with no voice-over or music but with an exquisite attention to the recording of ambient sound, the film juxtaposes scenery, industry and people discovered along the eponymous autobahn near Frankfurt.

Komers catalogues his motorway marginalia – a Warner Brothers’ theme park, a family sunbathing by a river under a busy bridge, the relics of the area’s coal-mining industry – with silent, if compassionate, detachment. This total reliance on montage distinguishes B224 from, say, Patrick Keiller’s idiosyncratic psychogeographies, and makes it more immediately enigmatic. B224 tests the motorist’s patience with the command to stop, look and listen at what is vanishing in their rear-view mirror, drawing suggestive affinities between the countryside, decayed industrial landscapes, and the ersatz fantasias displacing them both.

But whereas, say, a Koyaanisqatsi simply gawps in wide-eyed wonder at the congruence of commuter and ant, B224 remains more cynical about the analogy between society and nature. Perhaps its most telling image is when a pillar of flame fills the sky, as if from an industrial jet, only for an edit to reveal it as spewing from the theme park’s ‘magic mountain’. Crossing from wonderland to hinterland and back, B224 suggests that it can no longer be a case of ‘out of town, out of mind’.

Mike Sperlinger - mike <at> sperlinger <dot> freeserve <dot> co <dot> uk

‘Pandaemonium’ []