Wilhelm and Birgit Hein: Materialfilme (1968 - 1976) DVD9
"Film should not be misused for non-filmic messages": Wilhelm and Birgit Hein examine in their films theprocess of reproduction and the film material itself. Rohfilm shows the destruction of the common "film image" and was described by Stephen Dwoskin as a "visual bombing" of shreds, fragments, dirt and leftovers of film editing. Reproductions dissolves photos in greys, 625 films a negative "snow" TV image with different speeds, in Portraits photos are changed by the development and reproduction processes. Materialfilme consists of film starting and ending leaders, the elements of every film that normally are not seen on the screen. W+B Hein's underground film classics deal with the unexplored potentials of the film material which starts to disappear in the digital world.

DVD9 | PAL 4:3 | 132 min | 6.21 + 3% rec
Language: no dialogues
Genre: Experimental, Short

Materialfilme brings together five works as follows: Rohfilm (1968), Reproductions (1968), 625 (1969), Portraits (1970) and the one from which it takes its title, which was first screened in 1976 and appears in two parts. For Rohfilm the Heins took clear film strip and glued all manner of materials to it: fragments of film but also dirt, hair, cigarette ash and more besides. They then projected this reel and re-filmed on a 16mm Bolex, only the heavy patches of glue contributed their own effects, causing the image to stop and stutter as it got caught in the projector or, occasionally, to melt under the excessive heat. Reproductions similarly captured its subject at one remove, the Bolex this time trained on a Movieola viewing machine that is being fed strands of the Heins’ holiday snaps. Seemingly innocuous segments of images – an ear or an expression or part of the Champs Elysees – are thus put under intense scrutiny.

With 625 this idea is taken further still. The subject matter is television static, the title referring to the number of lines found on a PAL or SECAM set. Essentially the film sets up a conflict between the two mediums – the grain, flicker and occasional scratches of 16mm versus the video image. Especially pronounced is the competition between the frame rate of the former and the scanning frequency of the latter. To further enhance the effect, the Heins also present the film in negative, resulting in visuals that are even more abstract and hypnotic, and insist on a half-hour-plus running time which, under the circumstances, is positively epic. By way of contrast Portraits is decidedly brisk: manipulated images of Charles Manson, Ronnie Biggs and Wilhelm Hein himself that once again focus on the tactile nature of the materials to hand. In effect it isn’t really Manson, Biggs or Hein who are on the receiving end of this portraits, but celluloid itself.

--The two Materialfilmes have optional soundtracks by various rock/post-rock artists working, in their medium, in a similar vein to the Heins.

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