by Lenka Sucha
A busy Sunday afternoon at Rotterdam’s Cinerama saw the world premiere of Mobilisierung der Träume/Dreams Rewired (2015), a captivating media archaeological essay that took the audience on a ride through the history of media and communication devices. The authors chose a fitting name in English, as the film flows like a dream, accompanied by Tilda Swinton’s haunting yet smooth
commentary. It is a bold undertaking, where nearly 200 different archival footage and film clips are intertwined with animated sequences and humorous voice-overs. To some viewers, the information may not be wholly new, but it was the delivery that made the film feel special – the scope of archival
footage and the film’s unconventional style enriched the basic facts. The oldest clips go all the way back to the 1890s and the directors Manu Luksch, Martin Reinhart and Thomas Tode crawled through old film reels at the German Bundesarchiv, the BFI National Archives, Prelinger Archives and the archives of the Dutch EYE Film Institute, amongst others. The long list of sources just highlights the scale of this grand project that was in the making for nearly a decade.
It’s not unreasonable to expect that the screening was mostly attended by film buffs, and as I am one myself, it is difficult to judge what a layman’s response to the film might be. At the screening I attended, the film was very warmly received, and the audience’s enthusiastic applause at the end was a reward for the filmmakers’ long-term efforts of digging up the not-so-distant past.
Dreams Rewired is a film with a memory, reflecting on the history of cinema; a philosophical meditation with a wealth of archival material that takes you on a fast but very enjoyable ride that is less a straightforward narrative and more a contemplation of divergent pasts and imagined futures of media and communications.