Anamnesis (Frans Zwartjes, 1969, Netherlands)

Anamnesis is a 1969 short by Frans Zwartjes. The film opens with a title sequence, that leads to an introduction to our main characters. As with most Zwartjes films, the film concentrates on a couple - in this case, a man and a woman (Lodewijk de Boer and Trix Zwartjes). The man and woman are on some kind of lounge chair. Both are caked in Zwartjes' signature death makeup. There is an eerie organ soundtrack that accompanies the movement. The woman somewhat resembles actress and singer-songwriter, Nico. The woman appears to be passing out on her chair, then opens her mouth for a long period. The man and woman appear close to embracing at times.

The space opens and the man is suddenly falling into a canal. The woman pulls him out of the canal. At this point, the makeup and action have become evocative of a silent comedy. A kiss is interspersed with the couple walking along a canal, then laying down alongside one another. The motif of attraction and repulsion, so common in Zwartjes' films, appears throughout this film. The man and woman have now returned to the couch, and the man is soaked with water and dirt. The man opens a soaked paper and begins to read it.

Zwartjes rapid editing style intersperses scenes in the grass. It now appears that the man is bleeding from his mouth. The woman begins spitting what appears to be blood on the man's shirt. This progresses into full-on splatter territory, as the man begins pulling what appears to be the woman's internal organs from her mouth. Zwartjes' took inspiration from the Viennese Actionists in his shorts, whose often bloody and scatological works would have been appearing around this time. Anamnesis is a mysterious and evocative short film that deserves further examination.



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