Kristallnacht

1979-1979

Dir. Chick Strand, 16mm B/W Sound 00:07:00

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Description

KRISTALLNACHT is a deceptively simple film, focusing on reflections of light on water, seemingly at night. The seven-minute film divides into two distinct passages: during the first we see crystalline ripples of water accompanied by nighttime sounds of crickets and frogs, and of young women apparently enjoying the water; then, after the sound of a distant train and of a gong, the rippling effect is more regular and pronounced and is accompanied by haunting, rhythmic music (the voices are no longer heard). Visually, KRISTALLNACHT is exquisite, a paean to the innocent pleasure of enjoying a nighttime swim during warm weather. But because of the film's title, and Strand's framing the water imagery with two texts--at the beginning a haiku: "White chrysanthemum / before that perfect flower / scissors hesitate," and at the end, "For Anne Frank" --this innocence is recontextualized by its opposite. KRISTALLNACHT, of course, refers to the "night of broken glass," November 9-10 1938, when the Nazis expanded their persecution of European Jewry by destroying synagogues, looting stores, and arresting thousands of Jews. Within this context the haiku suggests the sacrifice of Anne Frank and the train we hear on the sound track comes to suggest the transportation of millions of Jews to their death during Hitler's "Final Solution."

[Source: Robin Blaetz, 'Women's Experimental Cinema: Critical Frameworks.']