Nicolas Rey

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Nicolas Rey
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anders, Molussien (differently, Molussia) 
2012 | France | 81m | 16mm

A film in nine reels and nine chapters, shown in random order and based on fragments from the novel Günther Anders (English translation of “anders” is “differently”) wrote between 1932 and 1936, The Molussian Catacomb. Prisoners sitting in the cells of an imaginary fascist state, Molussia, transmit stories to one another about the outside world, in the form of series of philosophical fables.

There are 362,880 ways of arranging the nine reels, and so one can reasonably regard every screening as a world premiere.

“Nine reels of unbelievably gorgeous 16mm, eight of which feature allegories drawn from philosopher Günther Anders’s posthumously published 1931 novel The Molussian Catacomb, which exposes the fascism inside capitalism and vice versa. The sequencing of the reels—i.e. the stories and the way certain motifs, aesthetic strategies, and cinematic devices are introduced and worked through—is interchangeable; what carries over from reel to reel are the colors and textures. Few works so perfectly combine cinesensuality and Marxist dialectics.”—Olaf Möller, Film Comment



“I wanted to make a film based on a novel that I couldn’t read, since it was written in a language that I don’t understand, and there’s no translation. Strange idea, you might say. But it’s a matter of trust. Maybe a little bit of intuition, but mostly trust. All that I knew was the fictional framing: prisoners, plunged into the darkness of a jail in an imaginary fascist state, Molussia, tell each other stories about the outside, like so many philosophically inclined fables. Looking back I can say that I made no mistake; the novel is profoundly topical today. But how to film it? Just film this imaginary landscape. No need to travel very far. Wander through more or less industrialized landscapes with my friend Nathalie, stopping here and there. Build a few machines with my friend Christophe to add to the complexity. My friend Stefan gave me a pile of outdated 16mm film stock. I asked Peter to read the book for me, and he picked out a few chapters. He knows me very well, he translated my last film. Trust. I add a few more chapters, whose titles appeal to me. Together with Nathalie we make a rough translation. The random order makes for a quite particular experience editing the film. I have to adjust, shift, invert, shorten it here and stretch it out there. Not too many constraints so as not to betray the pleasure of simply putting sound and image together. And then to let the whole thing rest a bit before periodically coming back to listening to the film.”—N.R. 


Shooting took place between 2007 and 2011 on outdated Gevaert 722 and 732 16 mm stock. The processing of the original material and the printing of 16mm prints were self-made at L’Abominable (http://www.l-abominable.org), an artist-run film lab based in Asnières until last June and now in La Courneuve.

Die molussische Katakombe has recently been republished by C.H.Beck (Feb. 2012) http://www.chbeck.de    ISBN 978-3-406-60024-1

Series: NYFF50: Views from the Avant-Garde

Venue: Howard Gilman Theater

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