A white screen. Tabula rasa. Panavision. L'Arrivée shines on you like pure projected light, like the white surface still waiting for the marks of the filmmaker. In L'Arrivée, Peter Tscherkassky goes back to the beginning, back to lumière and the Lumières who, once upon a time, made a film of a train arriving.
And then the dirt begins to invade, the "story", if you like. A frenzy in the soundtrack - it bangs, creaks, crackles and roars. From the right a grey veil approaches: the perforation of a strip of film. L'Arrivée makes cinema from mistakes, from derailments. Half pictures - the misty pictures of a grey delegation in station somewhere - penetrate the white surface.
From right and left they run together, crash into each other and strive to separate themselves again. The material comes from Mayerling (1968), a Habsburger melodrama from the British director Terence Young. The Eastman colour which was originally present has been exorcised by the filmmaker. What Tscherkassky does here is drastically re-configure in Cinemascope. A train arrives and collides with its mirror image. Events begin to turn head over heels. Tscherkassky hystericalises the images. He allows them to lose their certainty, crosses soundtrack with perforation strip, changes positive to negative, slits the material open. Inside out and upside down. Phantom images - behind the veil of a film still running amok as if in the grip of a panicking collaborative cinematographic machine. A filmstar staggers into the final kiss - Catherine Deneuve alights, a man (Omar Sharif - which sounds like j'arrive) hurries towards her. A kiss. Bliss. An end.
L'Arrivée is a film in the process of approaching. An orchestrated melodrama of dislocated viewing values made with sheer pleasure in disaster." (Stefan Grissemann)
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