Abendland

Nikolaus Geyrhalter

Austria 2011, 90 mins.

Europe at night. A fragmentary look at the people who decide not to sleep but to work, exercise, have sex, get drunk, attend a prayer, drive, talk on the phone, dance or just stay up late for no apparent reason. A different portrait of a continent very much alive at night.

There is something stubborn about the night. The night is its own master. It has its own sense of place. Its own sets of sounds and emotions. It is a paradoxical being, the night. Gentleness and eeriness travel side by side in the night. With its filter of calmness and quiet, the night tones down the harsh realities of the day but, at the same time, the night brings forth what the day dare not hold. Someone and some things only come out at night. Austrian documentary filmmaker Nikolaus Geyrhalter has made a very simple but quite clever decision to create a feature-length film about the night: most of all about the people in the night and what they do. And by people, I mean Europeans, because Geyrhalter has limited his night portrait to Europe which is actually also quite a clever choice because this limitation allows us to see Europe in a different way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoYMDXSnQUI

What is it we do at night? How is it we behave in Europe at night? Most of the crowd scenes in Geyrhalter’s night visions show Europeans dancing and drinking in a none too flattering style. At the beer and eating orgy of a German Oktoberfest, at the trance of a techno party and at an outdoor festival, all the people seem to act in a somewhat reckless and vociferous manner. Perhaps it’s just the night talking because its transformative power is hard to escape. The polished surface created by reason and good manners is replaced by a more brutal or perhaps more honest way of being human.

«Europeans dancing and drinking in a none too flattering style»

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