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The Mysteries of Berlin

Cordelia Swann
24 min Colour/B & W Tape/Slide
Twin Screen

The Mysteries of Berlin

Both the Mysteries of Berlin and Der Engel use images connected with Berlin as a city frozen in time: the time when the wall was built in the early sixties.

"Inspired by the Ann Radcliffe's novel 'The Mysteries of Udolpho' (1794) in which the heroine is transported from the Pyrenees to be be tortured in Venice (locations the author had no hope of travelling to herself) THE MYSTERIES OF BERLIN begins with excerpts from the pulp novel 'Torrid Zone Tease' (1963) accompanied by a sound battle between the Soviet Army Chorus and Weill's 'Mack the Knife'.

'She stepped quickly through the doorway of Krasnystrasse's only night spot - Der Pudel Rosa - and the music stopped. Everything stopped. Everything with eyes stared. For Hilda had arrived. Hilda in her bright red coat. The coat she would now remove for them as always... The Old Gas Hause in California which had been popularized in decadent capitalistic publications had to some extent influenced the place and its patrons. Beatnik was the mongrel Russianized expression. Dirty beards, dirty faces, berets, sandals, bare feet, dope-dreamy eyes, faceless faces all alike. Heavy sweatered girls whose bodies could be seen only after a man decided, sweat-shirted males who couldn't decide. And a scattering of drab uniforms.' - Art Enterprises, Inc. 'Torrid Zone Tease' (1963)

We then see images, in both their original format and extreme close up, taken from old magazines, films and books chosen for their likeness to what people and places might have looked like in Berlin in the early 60s." C.S.

'The image of Berlin is strongest in its abstract shapes, shadows against the wall, lights in the night and the importance given to everyday things which appear sinister only in Berlin. Built up through thrillers and films of the sixties and through the European film noir tradition, Berlin appears to come from a different age; an age where stereotypes are still acceptable.'

[Co-op Cinema programme June-July 1982]

Sound Design Jim Divers

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