Search - Nicolas Humbert & Werner Penzel: Middle of the Moment on DVD

Nicolas Humbert & Werner Penzel: Middle of the Moment
Nicolas Humbert Werner Penzel Middle of the Moment
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
NR     2003     1hr 16min

No Description Available. Genre: Music Video - Jazz Rating: NR Release Date: 2-DEC-2003 Media Type: DVD


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Movie Details

Genres: Music Video & Concerts
Sub-Genres: Pop, Jazz
Studio: Winter & Winter
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 11/04/2003
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1995
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 16min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: German, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

Great way to step off the grid
TBo | Chicago | 03/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This b&w film melds beautifully with Fred Frith's unusual playing. There's a sense of things just being as they are, rather than rushing to be the newest transformation. As one who is repulsed by commercials and pop advertising, I experienced this DVD as a refuge of sorts; a serene look into the lives and activities of nomads whose every move seems to be linked to their survival. The soundtrack is great, but the silences within the movie are equally compelling. The title is quite appropriate."
Footprints in the sand...humanity touching the circle
Larry L. Looney | Austin, Texas USA | 07/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"From the notes on the DVD cover, excerpted from the Winter & Winter website, by Miriam can Leer: `The essence of any experience, any moment, is to be found where people are in most intense contact with the place they occupy. And, paradoxically, it is through a nomadic existence that one occupies a space the most intensely. Whether the nature of this nomadism is largely physical...or rather not important.' Two groups of people, along with one individual, have been chosen to represent the subject matter at hand - the performers and workers of Cirque O; the wandering Touareg tribes Kel Iforas and Kel Wdegui of the forbidding Ténéré region of the south Sahara; and the great American expatriate and seclusionist poet Robert Lax.

The images are shot in both close-up and distant formats - but the feeling the viewer is given is one of intimacy. The film opens with a shot at night of sparks from a fire blowing in the wind, accompanied by images of a road in the dark, with briefly lit road signs passing by. Then two young faces appear, lit by the fire - one is tending the flame, blowing on it to get it started, as if imbuing it with life by giving it his breath. Scenes shift, with images of desert nomad life being contrasted and compared with those of life in a traveling European circus - in one brief interlude, Robert Lax is shown reading one of his works. While it would seem at first glance that these lifestyles have little in common other than constant traveling and isolation (imposed or by choice) from the greater body of human society, similarities and shared traits soon become evident.

Both the desert nomads and the circus performers are shown erecting and dismantling tents - shelter for one, workplace for the other. I readily saw a theme of circles developing in this film - perhaps intended overtly or not, I sensed it as a visual / emotional reference to the `connectivity' expressed in the quote above - these are people who are more in touch with the earth than people who dwell in (and are almost completely depended to) cities and other `permanent' forms of residence can hope to completely understand or feel. They move across the skin of the world, in constant and intense contact with it - everything they do, with few exceptions, directly relates to their ability to survive and even thrive in the environment they inhabit. There are circles formed by bodies around a fire; a bowl containing a yoghurt made from goat's milk, from which hands dip from all sides; the performance area of rings inside the circus tent, as well as the circles formed by the tents themselves, both of the circus and the nomads; the circular nature of life and time itself, expressed in the poem read by Robert Lax :

One moment passes -
another comes on.
How was, was -
how is, is -
how will be, will be.
Is was,
was is,
was wasn't,
wasn't was,
is isn't,
isn't is,
won't will be,
will be won't.

The contradictions that appear on the surface of the seemingly simple series of thoughts that make up this poem are so interconnected that they become one - like a circle. One of the most striking images in the film is of a female circus performer spinning at angles in a large double-wheel, controlling her movements and direction and speed by subtle body movements - it's a compelling picture of grace and beauty. Similarly moving is the birth of a baby camel, the mother being assisted gently by some of the tribal members - we later see the young animal rise up and take its first steps, watched over with visible love by the new mother.

There is little conversation or dialogue in the film that is `explanatory' - the exceptions are conversations between people, never by the filmmakers themselves. One of the desert nomads relates a dream to a woman, perhaps his wife, as they sit on the sand; an image appears of a young boy sitting before a fire at night, with the moon a tiny circle over his shoulder - his face is at first glance inscrutable, but there is a world to be seen in his eyes. The scene changes to show one of the circus performers applying his makeup in a mirror - it makes a fierce design, but there is deep humanity in his eyes.

Music plays a large role in the lives of both the Europeans and the Touaregs - a plaintive Roma melody is played on the violin by a woman in one of the caravans that will go right to your heart of hearts; a man wanders along a dockside, playing an accordion; a group of desert-dwelling women chant and sing in the night in a call-and-response style, accompanying themselves on drums; the band in the circus plays along with the performers, musically coloring the emotions they create in the onlookers; the music is present in its absence in a shot of the desert campsite, showing another circle, made of footprints, left from the previous evening's dancing and revelry.

This film is pure artistry, assembled with great skill and creativity by filmmakers to express ideas and emotions connected with a style of life that is unchained from the day-to-day treadmill that most of us experience. It is a breathtaking and moving picture of the juncture of humanity touching the earth - the footprints in the sand, the impression of tents removed, the shadow painted by a spinning metal hoop in a circus spotlight, slowly but inexorably coming to a horizontal stillness. All of these images will vanish - the footprints will be erased by the desert wind; the rains will wash away the marks in the ground made by the circus tents; the shadow and the hoop that made it will disappear when the lights are cut and the equipment is packed away. The humanity - and the less-visible but more longer-lasting touches it makes with the earth, will remain.