The Train, The Forest


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

The Train, The Forest
"Resistant to easy classification, this could be called experimental animation."

Patrick Buhr, quoting Paul Virilio, in Q&A at Glasgow's 2018 Short Film Festival, observes that "the straight line is the fossil of violence". That from Virilio's Negative Horizon: An Essay In Dromoscopy, at least in 2005's Continuum Translation. Dromoscopy from his system of thought of dromology, study of systems through speed, albeit not the white light white heat and warm leatherette of methamphetaminous Ballard nor even his assassinations considered as a down-hill motor-race, but pensee in the grand systemic critical vision sense that gives us Baudrillard's Disney land.

A vision made of straight lines, influenced by Buhr's 'office'. Cross-hatched figures, allegedly naked, run beside the train, figures advancing across fields at inhuman rates, with inhumanish gaits, an imagining apparently relatively common from childhood. Pylons imposed, straight-line-leaves fall, not yet decomposed, abstract, abstracted landscapes. Buhr said that three years ago he "made an existential decision to not get a working space but to get a universal train ticket", one suspects the kind of rail-pass season-ticket that only surfaces in British consciousness when bemoaning the state of our own network, where notionally fungible things more closely resemble barely consensual kidnappings. These figures ran some distance before their form becomes clear, kin to pylon, tree, summoned from "wind and electricity". The abstract and abstracted German landscape consequence of an attempt to avoid the fate of the animator, "[you're] a basement worker", instead the windows, the "passing... massaged [his] brain".

From that imagination, cycles - not quite high tension, megavolt explosions, the feather of industry brushing metal ink in permenant record upon the landscape, the flock from the landscape, wheeling and gyring slowly connected by those long, low, lines. The hum of potential, again realised. This was apparently to be a collaboration, an electronic musician friend of Buhr's to score a tunnel - Buhr has said that he "usually [likes] an opponent", and there's a sense of the oppositional to this work. It might just be lines, the presence of a moment of frequent flash from black to white the usual experimental filmmaking test of the audience, and one wonders if without a co-creator to push against thanks to work undelivered and messages unanswered, that resistance has expressed itself against the audience. A sprung pantograph from a train of thought straining against the viewer from home, these drawings demand some effort. Resistant to easy classification, this could be called experimental animation but so too What I Forgot To Say - though that was more about internal human condition, rather than the external outcome.

That quote is included at the beginning of this review because I feel the film might have done with it - Virilio is French but in that text at that point he was writing of the autobahn, the bullet on the boulevard, and even latterly the civilian implications of those technologies have speeds are changing our geographies. From minimal ingredients, four colours, lines, planes, much is made. To cut short, to turn line to point - this is good, but may not be for everyone.

Reviewed on: 17 Mar 2018
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A train ride reveals strange incidents.

Director: Patrick Buhr

Year: 2017

Runtime: 4 minutes

Country: Germany


GSFF 2018

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