Eye For Film >> Movies >> Tussilago (2010) Film Review
Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson
In the 1970s, with the Red Army Faction (initially more famous as the Baader-Meinhof Group) terrorising Germany, some of those involved laid low in Sweden. One of them was Norbert Kröcher, whose activities included a 1976 plot to kidnap Anna-Greta Leijon, then Sweden's Minister for Immigration. When that plot was foiled, a young woman who was romantically involved with Norbert was also arrested. Known only as 'A', this is her story, and it is compelling.
Beautifully animated, with live actors composited onto backgrounds made of newspapers, similar (though more realistic) to the style of Mother Of Many, it's visually distinctive, sophisticated and intriguing. Photographs come to life, album covers, film posters, newspapers, actors, as if rotoscoped with paper. It's media aware; the planning for the raid is crisply, expertly depicted with matchsticks and matchboxes. The backgrounds are sparse, action often occuring on a blank field, but when there are things not in the forefront they carry implicatory weight subtly, brilliantly. Headlines, models, the texture of cardboard, clocks and doors and corridors, all as if drawn from the pages of a scrapbook, a collage. Wallpaper, western comics, newsprint, block colours and type-written manuscripts, all are integrated perfectly with the action depicted.
A's involvement in events is not glossed over; nor are the consequences of her incarceration. As she is interviewed by the never-heard or seen Richard Dintner, all manner of things are elicited from her directly, even more seen. It's odd to mention actors in the context of an animated film, but Camaron Silverek lends an air of desperation to Norbert, even rendered as a newspaper photograph pacing back and forth. As A, Malin Buske manages plenty, almost mime at times. Around them figures possibly motion captured or forged wholecloth still seem natural, but backgrounded - a little less in focus, a little less detailed.
Martin Lundquist's music is well used, in keeping with the rest of this film - well done, well made, Jonas Odell's direction and animation are strong. He's no stranger to distinct styles, the looping moments of his earlier film Revolver showing a variety of influences. This is an eye-opening film. Shown in the animation strand at Edinburgh's 2010 Film Festival, by rights it belongs with the other documentaries - as with One Thousand Pictures, it's obscured by the company it is kept in. Inventive, earnest, minimal yet accurate, this is a brilliant piece of work.
Though in Swedish, Tussilago is subtitled, narrated in English (in the version seen, at least), with title cards outlining events. The one possible point of translatory confusion are the titular tussilago - for clarity, flowers - known as coltsfoots. Their bright yellow blooms become important to events.Reviewed on: 28 Jun 2010