More Ghosts of Antwerp

October 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

A few days ago I posted in passing something about, in an enigmatic sort of way, the Central Station in Antwerp, and lo & behold if tonight I did not learn, via the all-things-Sebald blog, Vertigo, that there is a very fine-looking film making the rounds that conjures up similar ghosts.

From the official film site:

ANTWERP CENTRAL takes the viewer on a journey through the physical and mental space of Antwerp’s railway cathedral, from its construction to the present day. The film covers three centuries of Belgian railway history: from the moment that the national railway company laid its first tracks to the development of the high-speed rail link in the 21st century. Echoes of Belgium’s colonial past and the location of the station in the centre of the bustling diamond district and next to the city zoo add a surreal touch as contrasting pairs, such as animal and human, nature and industry, baroque and modernity, dilapidation and renovation are complexly juxtaposed.

Drawing inspiration from the book “Austerlitz” by W.G. Sebald, screenwriter/director Peter Krüger approaches Antwerp Central Railway Station as a magical realistic location where present and past, history and daily life, fiction and reality are in a constant flux. Running as a thread through the film are the dreams and reminiscences of a traveler, played by Johan Leysen, who arrives at Antwerp Central and through whose eyes we observe the station.

He draws our attention not only to the striking architecture and historical context of the building, but also to its hidden and  mysterious aspects. A peacock spreads iits wings; time stands still; a lion roams the grand waiting hall; an old steam loc enters the station; a choir performs on the monumental staircase leading to the platforms. . . . Reality turns to dream and vice versa. But what is reality? And what is dream? Is time not more than the transformation of space?

ANTWERP CENTRAL is a film in which visual observations occasion historical, humoristic and poetic reflections on Antwerp’s railway cathedral.

I look forward to its eventual (hopefully) West Coast debut.

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