Flight into Darkness
Dec 2, 2023
Arthur Schnitzler, Alexander Ratter
Martina Greiner, Wojo van Brouwer
The title of this film seems very apt as we are confronted by characters with doubtful motivation. They are no less compelling as the leading character contemplates a chequered past and uncertain future. The past might be another country but still leaves an indelible mark on the future. The present seems to be neutral territory as she ponders her next move.
Maria (Martina Greiner) is a troubled soul who contemplates a new life in Buenos Aires far and away from her old existence in Vienna. However, her controlling older brother Daniel (Wojo van Brouwer) has something of a hold over her. As a doctor he would have some insight into Maria’s physical and mental health. But how well does Daniel know her, and how much emotional baggage is buried below the surface. The past is never far behind as Maria recalls a highly charged encounter. An evening of heavy drinking with an old friend gives her food for thought.
The story is based on Arthur Schnitzler's novella of the same name published in 1931. But this short film directed by Alexander Ratter gives the story a modern setting with a stylish black and white hue. Maria and Daniel are complex characters with many moving parts. We can draw inferences from the dialogue that occasionally feels fragmented. There is a sense that Maria only has an illusion of choice; and her path in life seems pre-determined and cannot be altered. Her relationship with Daniel is pivotal to the overall narrative and can also be interpreted in a number of ways.
Although riddled with ambiguity there is no denying the visual power of the piece. It’s underpinned by occasional voice-overs that give the film an episodic feel. There is a heavily stylised intro where Maria sits on a pier as the voice-over waxes lyrical. It could almost be a 1960s TV advert for Christian Dior. That in itself is no bad thing but there is an overriding feeling the story is too big for the short film format. But fair play to all concerned this is a solid piece of filmmaking that deserves due credit.