Directed by: Johannes Grenzfurthner
Starring: Johannes Grenzfurthner, Stuart Freeman, Daniel Hasibar and Conny Lee
Indie Film Review by: Annie Vincent
A highly intelligent and topical film, Glossary of Broken Dreams is an engaging epistemological documentary that will have you chuckling about, choking on, and considering the validity of, your political ideology.
Johannes Grenzfurthner’s opening gambit is amusing as he details the moment, when he was four years old, that he fell flat on his face on some concrete by a beach in Italy. The moment taught him that he had a difficult condition – he was ‘human’: a condition which experiences broken dreams and relies on narratives, metaphors and linguistic shortcuts to convey our ‘stories’ and it is this that Grenzfurthner compels us to explore and evaluate in his film. He tackles concepts such as ‘capitalism’, ‘privacy’ and ‘freedom’, exploring what that really means through a range of cinematic techniques.
Reminiscent of the ‘asides’ of Adam McKay’s The Big Short, Grenzfurthner utilises images, photos, voice-over, direct address, song, subtitles, animation, archive clips and live music to explore social constructs and their contradictory nature. Topical issues are cross-examined under the lenses of history, politics, philosophy and technology with interesting insights and questions resulting. The film explores the seeming-ridiculousness of campaigns for inequality in a society controlled by capitalism; the nonsense of the uproar around ‘fake news’ when all news, by its definition and construction is itself fake; and the irony of society’s desire for privacy yet its reluctance to do the one thing to protect its privacy – stop sharing. But the film doesn’t attempt to convert or pressure its audience into a particular opinion; largely, it offers multiple sides to each argument and raises questions for its audience to consider.
You may then ask, well what is the point of this film? It is true that the irony of The Glossary of Broken Dreams is that it too, as highlighted by its end sequence, is a product of capitalism, dependent on it for production and release. So what is our politically-motivated director and writer trying to say. The answer is: I’m not sure, except that it compels us to review our thinking and that of course, is the best place to start when you want to change the world.
The main issue with the film is its length. While the eclectic mix of story-telling strategies is engaging, unlike McKay’s film where these moments are ‘asides’ informing aspects of a main narrative – here they are the narrative and at a 99 minute run-time, it can feel a little overwhelming, especially as it is incredibly academic. However, this is a relevant and engaging documentary which offers a creative addition to some of today’s most talked about issues and is worth your cognitive consideration.