A million in debt is normal, says my grandfather
Eine Million Kredit ist normal, sagt mein Großvater
Normality in the 70s: The audiovisual memory industry and its amateur-filmmaker cohorts produced vast numbers of images depicting the economic boom and petit bourgeois families who presume theyre happy: vacations at the sea, car excursions into the Alps while wearing traditional clothes, at home theres the built-in cabinet with a color TV. Dads usually the one operating the camera. Everything could have been so nice, but it all goes wrong in the end: The carpenters shop inherited from grandpa is in the red, competition with mass-produced goods delivers the companys death blow. The familys embroiled in a crisis, and finally its head crumbles under the strain. Normality has become unbearable.
At first glance Gabriele Mathes found-footage film merely tells the story of a family which ends tragically. While an unemotional narrator creates a depressing, somewhat biographical and photographically precise portrait in words, the Super-8 images capture an irreducible exterior which unfolds not only in the literary description of subjective images of memory: fragments of a public micro-history of the economy. Images and language contaminate each other in the tangential editing, and Andrea Sodomkas soundscape leads us into the audiovisual fracture in time with painful silence. Unlike so many ironic home-movie samplers, Mathes takes her material seriously as a symptom. Whats shown, what indicates the non-visible, what has been lost, and what has been saved. And, just possibly, something has survived in the washed-out, emotional images, where language, and mourning, was unable to reach: a moment of suspicion, or a moment of happiness. But happiness might have flared up at a place no one planned or expected. (Michael Palm)
The film tells the story of the filmmaker's family: her father's struggle to save the furniture store inherited from her grandfather and the consequences of the inevitable bankruptcy for the family. (production note)