Happy-End is a found footage film: the re-working of someone else's home movies from the 60s and 70s. The sequences selected are taken from many hours of the staged private life of Rudolf and Elfriede, pivoting on demonstrative celebrations, alcohol and cake consumption together.
Who watched these two before Peter Tscherkassky's (and then our) gaze fell on their gaiety? Who stood behind the camera? I think that the theory that they themselves are responsible (in expectancy of their own spectatorship - look, it was so wonderful there) misses the mark. Neither is it a hidden camera, since Rudolf and Elfriede turn to it laughing, gesticulating and with glass in hand. It must be their child, a child who never enters the picture himself, except in the form of a symbolic doll and recurring mirrors wich evidence his doings.
I think that Rudolf and Elfriede fell in love in the summer of 1952 as Annie Cordy's hit could be heard from every speaker: "Bonbons, Caramels, Esquimaux, Chocolats". In 1958 their son was born, shortly after a first movie camera was bought. At the beginning of the 70s the son took over the direction of the annual celebration films. He also captured on film the sexual joy which hovers lightly between the sparkling wine and the Sachertorte.
Twenty years later the child, by now a grown man, sees these rediscovered films again.
To his surprise they don't embarrass him in the least. He understands how the home movies of that time led him to avant-garde film: the single frame tricks, and the many technically determined jumps, flashes and wipes puncture not only the cinematographic illusion but also the function of these films - the maintenance of the privacy of passing lives - Paradise Not Yet Lost. He digs deeper into the personal effects of his parents and pulls out older pictures shot from a hand-held camera, with its characteristic movement, that must stem from "before his time". He veils his "own" pictures with them and re-writes the story of Rudolf and Elfriede in reverse time, back into a pre-linguistic world of secrets. The burden of hard-won film and family theory drops from him, the vortex of picture and feelings becomes an "eternal requiem" for his parents and a homage to his mother, as she spins round, slower and slower, laughing like an old jazz-singer. And so he is working against the pain of the knowledge that he could not express this closeness during the lifetime of Rudolf and Elfriede. What a sad, happy end!
DAFilms.com is powered by Doc Alliance, a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.