Experimental in construction but accessible to all, “World Mirror Cinema” breaks down the narrative barriers of “actuality” newsreels to reveal the limitless lives of even the most marginal background figures. Brilliantly manipulating found footage from the silent era, Gustav Deutsch views every inch of the frame as a window onto hidden lives, intercutting shots from other films to suggest histories that expand beyond the fleeting glimpses of a moment’s screen time. Fests and rep houses are the likely beneficiaries of Deutsch’s exhilarating dialogue-free vision.
Evenly divided into three sections, pic begins with a 1912 actuality shot outside a Viennese cinema. Deutsch slows the speed down and zooms in on a passerby, fading the image into footage of a man in a World War I uniform in a poignant flash-forward of a life beyond the anonymity of the original film. Interspersed with a clip from the movie advertised outside the Vienna theater are other figures, all given extra-textual lives. Deutsch similarly treats a 1929 actuality outside a cinema in Surabaya (Java), and another from Porto (Portugal) in 1930. Snippets from period songs introduce each segment, sliding into unsettling electronic dissonance.