A 1999 44'
For the third part of his trilogy, after the films on Tibet and Japan, Manfred Neuwirth turned his camera on realities much closer to home: Lower Austria, where he grew up and still lives today. The gaze is the same: an unwavering interrogation of the details of everyday life, from a bottle of beer on a picnic table to slowly drifting clouds. The goal: to restore a freshness of vision to sights usually blurred by habit. Seen through the grille of a wiremesh fence, a distant football match seems mysterious. And in close-up, the folds of an accordion take on almost abstract proportions.
Like the other films in the trilogy, MAGIC HOUR consists of a series of shots of equal length, slowed down to one-fifth their normal speed and separated by fades to black. Surround sound often provides a counterpoint to the images. Neuwirth combines the precision of structural film with the lyricism of the video diary. Seen in slow motion, small gestures reveal a pathos that would escape our notice at normal speed. Neuwirth seems fascinated with capturing temporary phenomena: fireworks, flashing lights, the sound of dripping water and the radio of passing cars. In cinematography, the “magic hour” refers to the special quality of light shortly before sunset. An ephemeral intersection of two elements of physics: time and optics. This intersection is explored over and over in magic hour: like the church bells that ring off screen as the camera follows the pattern of paving stones.
Visions du Réel Nyon 2000