Johann Lurf’s EMBARGO

After, with his camera, having raped pyramids, dams and other architectural peculiarities until harassing some ‘meaning’ out of them, experimental filmmaker Johann Lurf turns his eye, camera and post-production skills towards the Austrian arms manufacturing industry. Or, more precisely, to the surface of its buildings. It can be deduced from the title that access to the buildings was denied, but it can also be assumed that Lurf did not insist on entering them, seeing as he is so ingenious with filming exteriors.
It is at no point explained that we are facing the arms manufacturing industry, that is rather something the soundtrack and the film editing hint at. The soundtrack, composed by Jung an Tagen, attacks and delights us with a mixture of what seems to be electronic music, gaming sounds and rocket take off noises. It accompanies the images of the industrial buildings. Surprisingly, it is the buildings that seem to be gliding past the camera. In Embargo, as in many of Lurf’s previous films, the edifices appear to have a will of their own. They seem to be radiating power, though it is, of course, the camera eye that provides them with supernatural qualities by inspecting them intensely, by interrogating them until they become expressive.
Embargo manages to inject danger into the eyes and ears of its viewers by overlapping flickering, interrupting images with shrill, dissonant sounds. Johann Lurf proves once again that he is a filmmaker we should be keeping our senses and heads open to.

(originally published Nisimazine 2015)

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