Aun: A Peaceful Apocalypse (Diagonale 2012)

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A Film Critic by Lora Sarı on Aun – der Anfang und das Ende aller Dinge, Regie: Edgar Honetschläger, AT/JP 2011.

 

"I think that only in rare cases one remembers the plotline of a film. After one month at the latest, just a feeling remains and if more time passes, then even more so." This is a statement made by Edgar Honetschläger, an Austrian film director, who has directed the subject of this article; Aun – The Beginning and the End of all Things. It has been a month, since I have seen Aun, and this is more or less, how I feel about this film: I can't remember the plotline, I can explain its story with only few sentences, which was not very clear for me in the first place. Anyhow, this critic is not a challenge though; a challenge made to prove that a critic can still be written even though the story is not very good understood. If there is any intention involved, it can be the stimulation of showing the accuracy of Honetschläger's statement about his own film: "Whoever is willing to dive into 'Aun' will leave the cinema with a cozy feeling. The pictures speak a language that remains in the mind of the spectator." This is the reason, why I still can and want to write about Aun.

 

At first sight, Aun seems to be a very exotic film, for the ones who are not familiar with Japanese culture. For some audience, unfamiliar enviroments might create a distance to the film. Furthermore, it gets disconcerting for the ones who are not interested in science, worrying that they will not understand the film and won't enjoy it. More to that, it gets scary, when you realize that there are references out of philosophical reflexions. Nevertheless, nothing holds you off from watching it. The film consists of therapeuting images; a seaside, a temple, a forest on the skirts of Mount Fuji. And also there are some images from a microscope, which I find hypnotizing. They give you the feeling as if you are gazing through a kaleidoscope. Ironically, even though Aun is a film about the apocalypse, you leave the room with a peace of mind.

 

The film mainly deals with the apocalypse, but not in the usual sense. There isn't any concrete mass chaos created by precursors of any upcoming disaster. Characters do not run away from the end of the world, but are trying to prevent the anticipated one. In order to do it, they have to find answers. Yet it is not clear, if they want answers to prevent the apocalypse, or to satisfy their curiosity. Either way, those answers eventually cause the apocalypse itself, but again not in the usual sense. In the end, it does not feel like it is the end at all. The camera zooms out till it reaches space and the world is just a little star, as it is. At this point you ask yourself: "Is the apocalyspe the end after all?" Maybe the cliché "every ending is a new beginning" is the relieving stimuli of this film.

 

Aun is a very complex film, which I have failed to understand. Usually in order to understand these kind of films, you have to co-think and catch the references, which I flunk in most cases and ask myself in the end: "What was that I just saw?" Especially in films with no timeline, I am just lost. Aun itself is a film with no timeline. Past, present and future is intermingled into the plot. The absence of the timeline works in favor of the film though. Honetschläger, who also happens to be an artist, strengthens his dreamspace images through this very absence. It makes the dreamy images dreamier and creepy ones creepier. Not just timelines cease to exist, but also you can't quite feel where the story is taking place. You know it's somewhere in Japan or somewhere on the skirts of Mount Fuji. But sometimes it is absolutely unrecognizable.

 

Another interesting subject about Aun is the language issue. Multinational characters talk to each other in their own language, yet they can understand each other perfectly. Language does not play a role in communication. Some of them speak Japanese, while other Portuguese. Sign language is also involved in this very unique way of communication. The film emphasizes that you don't have to speak the same language in order to communicate, which I believe is also creating this cozy feeling. It is a film in search from the beginning to the end. Every single character is after something the whole time. And what I can tell, their searches are not build upon saving the world; it's based on their desires. Decisions they make are never in favor of the others. Maybe Aun's doctrine is the evilness of individualism and the harm coming along with it.

 

Visuals are binding you to the film, but something else other than what you see, drags you in it. Not just the characters are in search, but you are also caught up in the motion. There are so many obscurities from the first minute on, you are dying to see the next scene, hoping something will come off. It is a film where you have to co-think, co-react and co-exist. In the end, some of you might reach to an answer, some of you not. Some of us will even forget the plotline! But in any case, you will leave the room as Honetschläger's predicted: "A warm feeling with no remembrance at all..."