Homo Sapiens

Homo Sapiens

The images could be taken from a science fiction film set on planet Earth after it’s become uninhabitable. Abandoned buildings – housing estates, shops, cinemas, hospitals, offices, schools, a library, amusement parks and prisons. Places and areas being reclaimed by nature, such as a moss-covered bar with ferns growing between the stools, a still stocked […]

Danube Hospital

The film opens with a slow futurist ballet. Automatic carts slide across a pristine floor, quietly following their programmed route and recalling their presence with a synthetic voice. Are we in a high tech factory? No, we are in a hospital in Vienna, one of the biggest in Europe: the Donauspital. In keeping with his approach, consisting of rigorously framed long shots (recalling the icy observation in Our Daily Bread, devoted to the food industry), Nikolaus Geyrhalter and his reduced team (due to constraints of space) placed the camera in this location where so many existences file past, from birth to death. The surgical gaze of the filmmaker is exhaustive (from one floor to another, from a massage in the emergency room, to religious services to work meetings) and is simply organized in relation to the chronology of a life. Assembling, sorting, measuring and cutting the meat in the cantine and the bodies on the dissection table, repairing the robots with blows from a hammer like the bones of a patient: everything is equalized by the camera. Observation is the key word. Because what is revealed here is the cruel affinity between the medical act and that of the filmmaker. The same precision, the same efficiency: the same distance. Thus an eye operation, carried out with the aid of a video recording shot in close-up, underlines the project of the film which is not to unveil a separate rational universe but to present Donauspital as a model of our world, a magnifying mirror of our modernity where the contours are suddenly sharper.