The Centre

Stanislaw Mucha.

Germany 2003, 83min.

Directed for German and French television by Polish filmmaker Stanislaw Mucha, the film starts in Germany and moves through Austria, Lithuania, Slovakia, Poland and Ukraine. It is a cosmopolitan work, to be sure, but it’s also a film that shows how culturally divided Europe remains.

Indeed, part of what Mucha seems to be up to is showing how the rhetoric of a borderless Europe does not necessarily reflect the continental reality. Sequences in Slovakia feature people speaking of Europe in ominous terms; it’s often not clear if they consider themselves European at all, even though they also lay claim to the ever-elusive geographical centre of the continent. Much the same is true of the interview subjects in Lithuania and Ukraine. As Mucha moves east he finds more and more agitation and odd flashes of anger. Oddly, he also finds Swiss people; he encounters some Swiss in Germany, and then a large pack of them in Ukraine, and at the end of the film, he meets a young Swiss couple in Germany.

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