An Die Nationen

This Sunday is Remembrance Day.

One hundred years have passed since the start of the First World War. There are surely few alive who experienced the time first hand. The two great wars of the twentieth century are fast vanishing to history.

In An Die Nationen, Patrick Müller conveys a sense of deep time. The lessons of the First World War are being lost to the distant past.

Patrick writes:

“This war memorial is located in my German hometown, Frankenberg, Saxony. It was designed by government architect Ernst Kattermann. Inaugurated in 1920, it was realized by Dresden sculptor Oskar Aurich. It is hidden in an old park called Lützeltal that now has turned into a forest. An uncanny face on a stony coffin calls following generations, never to forget the disasters of the First World War. A war that in its course, due to technical ‘advancements’, saw mass mechanical killing on a scale never seen before in human history; 10 to 13 million soldiers and civilians slaughtered with equal monstrosity. Numerous War memorials were erected across Europe to call for understanding instead of discord and hatred.”

“In To the Nations (Robert Hamerling, c. 1880) the author reflects back on human history and calls for peace and understanding. Like the memorial, Hamerling, who was once one of the most widely read German authors, is today almost forgotten.”

“I started filming this spring. I used an expired Ektachrome 64t cartridge a friend gave me. To get the right colors in daylight, I had to use an additional Wratten filter on the Logmar’s Schneider-Optivaron zoom lens. Only four shots were filmed where the length of each was calculated in advance. The best thing when filming outdoors is the surprises. As if nature wanted to play along, the light started to glitter on the memorial, leaves and branches started moving in the wind and bugs walked across the stony face. The seemingly static shots came alive. I hand processed the footage in E6.”

“After the filming, I went to Munich, where a friend of mine who runs a Swedish publising house, agreed to read the text. He read my 16mm-film I Ungdomen last year.”

“I always use Ocho y pico in Spain for telecine. Simply because they offer one of the sharpest scans in Europe. 4K-Transfers too! 4K has a better compression that allows more space for resolving film grain and you get the whole picture frame – which is perfect in post. The scan itself is exceptionally stable and looks like the projection. It is just amazing what information you can get out of a 8mm wide film strip.”

“I asked Tobias Fürschke, a friend, who leads a English Language School nearby to translate the text. This was the first time the 120 year poem had been translated to English.”

“From time to time, you can see children playing at the memorial, poking fun at the grumpy stony face. In my opinion this is what today’s world should be: a world where children only know war from abandoned memorials or books instead of watching it all day long live in the television or their front doors. People are making the same mistakes over and over again! La bêtise humaine, as Flaubert would call it.”