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Museum Hours (2012)

September 3, 2013

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Just as the modern generation wanders through a museum of ancient art whose importance and meaning are enigmas that can only be decrypted by their stirring emotions, so too do the workers and denizens wander through Vienna’s decomposing metropolis of abandoned giant buildings and tiny stores trying to carve out a semblance of purpose for themselves, aimed by obligation and societal connection. This severed connection between the past and present, between legacy and invention, and between people themselves are the main resonance of this spiritual expression of art and life.

Introspection and observation aren’t merely just the sensual elements of this film, they’re the only true manner of expression that life can offer to the lonely bodies here: a quiet museum guard who has folded away from a busy life of managing rock bands to his “share of quiet” in a room full of Brueghel’s and a quiet Irish singer out to visit her distanced cousin in a coma with little else of purpose in her stay. As they quietly and politely become friends, the film also wanders through the city of Vienna, paralleling moments of zen modern beauty of wanderers and skaters to the paintings of worlds long since crumbled. Like the audience of a film, the guard is the lone observer into the minds of these wanderers when confronted with the worlds.

In the most telling point of the film, a museum guide explains the importance of the details, of the subjects in the midst of their own landscapes, and of keeping an open mind in observing reality to a group of tourists, one of whom is particularly unwilling to embrace the ethereal. And as the art museum guard observes his own life, his memories, and the faded connections he carries with him and himself alone, we realize the almost frighteningly grand world and the necessity of art to carve out a notion of meaning, and the beauty of the connections such art can carry with us, even if into the dark.

From → New Watch

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