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In Comparison
Zum Vergleich
dir. Harun Farocki / Germany, Austria 2009 / 61’
subtitles: Polish and English
Documentaries / essays

Film description

Have you ever wondered how a brick is made? After all, it is the basic element of houses, towns, a building material of our civilisation, something that determines the structure of our space.

In the latest documentary by Farocki, By Comparison we may observe production techniques of bricks from the most traditional ones, still applied in a village in Burkina Faso to workshops in India to thoroughly mechanised factories in Europe. The director confessed: I've never in my life been able to observe such a strange process so closely. But this is not an educative film as you might expect. Yes, the camera follows the characters very closely: people who produce bricks, furnaces where bricks are burnt, machines, construction sites, bricks themselves. With hardly any comment, these truthful images let us look at the backstage of the 'strange process'. This perspective makes the observed object abstract: suddenly, a brick becomes a symbol. Different stages of the production process are filmed with such admiration that we feel like touching the essence of human creativity. The title comparison is unfavourable for industrial societies. Old-fashioned techniques are a part of existence within the world, a ceremony, a ritual, and modern ones are just a part of dehumanised industry. This is where the beautiful, but cold and soulless houses in our cities originate from.

Paulina Sieniuć

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July-August 2009
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There will be a special screening of Guy Maddin's Brand Upon the Brain! attended by the director himself, with a performance by foley artists, narrator Gosia Dobrowolska and an orchestra.

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