by Maikel Aarts in DVD Beaver , 2006
The films of Mara Mattuschka are very hard to describe. Most of them seem to have something to do with surrealism, sexuality and an unusual large interest in the human body. Most of these films are shot in gritty 16mm black and white, with lightning fast editing and often a combination of animation and live-action, making the films instantly recognizable. Reference points might include Jan Svankmajer and Walerian Borowczyk or even Luis Buñuel (the film ‘Kugelkopf’ is clearly a parody/ode to ‘Un Chien Andalou’) but ultimately the films of Mattuschka are uniquely her own. The androgynous actress Mimi Minus (who reminded me somewhat of Maria Falconetti from Dreyer’s ‘The Passion of Joan of Arc’) stars in most films and seems to functions as a sort of muse for the filmmaker. Contradiction seems the be the keyword in the world of Mara Mattuschka, because these films can jump from one mood to another in the blink of an eye. As a result they are anarchistic and provocative, but at the same time vulnerable and human; humorous and dramatic; harsh and poetic.

Of the 12 films presented on this disc, not one lasts longer than 10 minutes, while most films even clock in at under 5 minutes. The variety of these films is quite astonishing, although they’re clearly the product of one mind. It’s difficult to single out some films, because they all have a certain degree of interest. Personally I began to enjoy these films more and more as I saw more of them, which can either be the result of the fact Mattuschka grew as a filmmaker (the films are presented chronologically), or can stem from the fact I grew more accustomed with her unique world as I spent more time with it. I want to give special attention to the last two films however, as I feel these are the two masterpieces here. ‘S.O.S. Extraterrestria’ is a brilliant parody of the monster film, with a Godzilla-like female wreaking havoc in a city, having sex with the Eiffel Tower before she is attacked by humans. The last film, the incredibly weird ‘ID’, (shot in color on digital video) plays like a fucked up David Cronenberg film with a woman transforming into a strange mutant complete with hysterical special effects, making it a deliciously over the top film, while still commenting on a serious issue such as identity. It’s typical of the beautifully strange films of Mara Mattuschka: they are lovely little films which comment quite seriously on human mores and values, but are at the same time so strange they can hardly be taken serious. And that’s quite an accomplishment on its own.

The image quality of these films is as good as the films allow. There are no extra’s on the DVD itself, apart from a bonus track. But as is always the case with Index DVD, there’s a substantial booklet included which gives the essential background for the films. This time, there’s also an interview reprinted between Mara Mattuschka and fellow filmmaker Peter Tscherkassky. Personally I enjoyed these films very much and I think they make a very nice addition to a substantial and eclectic DVD collection.
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