Kinoteka 2015 – 15 Corners Of The World – Review ****

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Having by now developed (as far as I can see) a slight reputation for a taste in the more unusual films, I wasn’t entirely surprised when the good editors of Critics Associated suggested that I reviewed this rather eccentric gem about Polish experimental electronic music. As always, I did – or at least tried to do – a bit of research before I started the film but was really unable to come across anything substantial. Having watched the film, I can now see why this is, but cannot, for the life of me, figure out how I will alter this state of affairs. I will, however, try to add my two cents worth without “giving too much away” and at the same time convey the extraordinary spirit of this little film that you truly have to see to believe.

15 Corners of The World revolves around the quiet yet charismatic and truly extraordinary personage of Eugeniusz Rudnik. There is a good chance you have never heard of him, but in the now-legendary Experimental Studio of Polish Radio he used sounds everyone else seemed to reject to make a new kind of music: Electronic music. The director Zuzanna Solakiewicz openly admitted that her aim was to make a film where the sound was in the foreground. Thus we learn about the human – and musical – forbears of the electronic music we listen to today. And we find out how Rudnik, not a DJ but a now grandfatherly figure in a tweed jacket, first came up with this concept…

I know this one sounds like a film exclusively for music enthusiasts and film critics. I strongly urge you to think again. On a personal level, I was a child of the nineties, hard-core was the genre we listened to growing up. In this sense alone it was amazing to listen to Rudnik’s experimentations with electronic music and hear sounds, beats, and snippets of sound you can recognise and subsequently be amazed that the things we take for granted today actually had to be invented, or indeed, discovered.

The other fascinating thing to watch is the way Rudnik himself works, interspersed with snippets from his diary dating from his time at the Experimental Studio. The essence of art lies in the dichotomy of artistic spirit and precise method. Underneath the beauty that we, the audience, enjoy on any level, lays the scaffolding of a craft that has to be mastered as precisely as any science. This is why, when we watch Rudnik talk about his music and his compositions (and occasionally debates whether they can be considered music at all) and talks about it in the sense of graphs, the x axis and the y axis, it is both hard to stomach and wonderful to behold. If nothing else, 15 Corners of The World will almost definitely challenge how you look at music – and in fact recorded sound of any kind.

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Incidentally – if you thought all the tweaks and the graphs took away from the joy of creation, well that’s where you’re mistaken and that’s where the real surprises of the film are. We watch Rudnik running (literally) up and down his studio with the old-fashioned magnetic tapes being rewound, manipulated, turned this way and that way, each manipulation bringing a brand new discovery. The sheer joy Rudnik pours into the process may well account for the birth of entire genres.

Now, on a closing note, please walk into this with your eyes open. Stylistically speaking this is not exactly easy to watch. The sound, the music, is very much the lead character and we spend a good amount of time listening to the music while watching montages of seemingly random (they do make sense as you watch) images that reflect the music you’re hearing in some way. True, these are interspersed with interviews, demonstrations and readings form Rudnik’s diary but you will need stamina; the kind of stamina possessed by those of us who enjoy large chunks of abstract art and are able to digest it 76 minutes of it at a time.  But I would seriously give it a go even if you had a suspicion this was going to push you a tad. For those who persevere, 15 Corners of The World is a voyage of discovery in many, many different ways…

A native of Istanbul, Turkey, Sedef moved to London three years ago to get her MA in Film Studies and never quite got round to going back home. As she once worked in a DVD company and watched films for a living, she started a personal blog (essiespeaks.blogspot.com) as a short answer to being constantly asked “watched anything interesting recently?” and loved blogging so much she just kept typing . She is the biggest Tarantino fan she knows and would be unable to choose a single film of his as a favourite.