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This review is from: The Hourglass Sanatorium (Restored Edition) - (Mr Bongo Films) (1973) [DVD] (DVD)
Couched with hidden meanings. Beaming an echoing beauty, running along with a black Gothic horror depiction, it heads to the ovens. Seemingly driven with a constant desire to make human connections across the partition of death, the film is about transcience.
We meet our protagonist riding along a train of death, the bodies not as compressed as 1942, but they lie contorted. Eventually our hero is dropped off at the sanatorium by the blind conductor, who appears achingly akin to someone. The entry point to the asylum.
A Jewish film transcending ethnicity, illustrating over arching themes of both finding a meaning to life and death. As a result we are led through a series of composed framed vignettes, where flowing commonalities emerge; Jewish life depicted in the ghetto, finding a meaning to continue to survive, women with bared breasts who offer their sensuality, along with the ever-present singing birds, pounded together by the perpetual pressures of history.
All set in the coloured decaying grandeur of Miss Faversham's Gothic, dilapidated chic of a crumbling lifestyle; welcome to the sanatorium. Climbing through an Alice in Wonderland world, where the smell of an impending blood soaked holocaust pervades the air; old people emerge with their last stint lifestyles before they go into ashes. The train at the beginning brings the conductor into the scene- leading the people to their eventual resting places. Appearing both at the beginning and the end, he makes himself understood as the marker of distinct phases.
The narrative concerns father-son love and an estranged relation with a mother, captured within the various time warps, as it bends and melds into other stranger dimensions, following the beautiful camera work and meticulous sets, all bringing the heart hammering flow of dreams, quietly and suddenly stopped...then to start ticking away within the beat of the film. As near to a dreamworld as it could be... the spiraling surrealist drifts into the subconscious and out again. Dreams are rendered into film.
Turn the soundtrack up when watching, as this brings out another hidden dimension within its murk ridden depths, an avant garde collation of moaning, birds and proto industrial sounds to deliver further gravitas.
Whereas Lynch lost a plot in Inland Empire this pulls the red velvet blinds aside to show how it should really have been depicted- built behind the Iron Curtain in 1973, highlighting another sensibility; breathing within the seething humdrum of outwardly communistic lives - hiding, crouching but ready to leap is a deep well of emotional literacy.
This is one of the greatest counter cultural films of modernity, sitting next to El Topo and anything Jodorowsky assembled. It needs a wider release into the world.