The Dream Guard

December 1997

The authors:

Herbert Distel born in Bern in 1942. He works in music, art and moving image. Some of his works are: A Pornographic Movie, Layla in Camp, Das Telefon, Jimmy, Die Reise.

Peter Guyer Born in Zurich in 1957, he has studied literature and journalism. Since 1981 he is a member of Container TV. Some of his videos are: Aktionen, Bernhard Luginbühl in der Reithalle, EIBE 800.

Roberto Faenza born in Turin in 1943, he has been a professor in different universities and institutions: City College of Washington, the University of Pisa, and director of the Community Video Center of Washington. Among other activities he has he has also done research work for CNR. He has directed various films: Copkiller, Sostiene Pereira i Marianna Ucria.

The works:

“As needs are dreamt of in a society, the dream becomes necessary. Spectacle is the nightmare of the modern society in chains which, in the end, only expresses its desire for sleep. Spectacle is the guardian of this dream.” Guy Debord, The Society of Spectacle.

In spite of the differences in dates, format, even strategy, Fear, Power and Images of the Sorcerer´s Apprentice and Forza Italia have two basic characteristics in common: being created exclusively through long and rigourous research in archives, mostly of television, and dealing with the subject of power. Both points merge in the manifestation of political power in the media. In the case of Distel and Guyer more impersonally, but for that reason less anecdotal, in Roberto Faenza’s film showing us the ridiculous, omnipotent parafernalia of a class accustomed to giving orders, to writing history. Both, however, reveal with precision the same, powerful performance machine praising itself, praising the images as it captures them.

Die Angst, die Macht, die Bilder des Zauberlehrlings. Herbert Distel / Peter Guyer, 17', 1987-1993. Switzerland.

Fear, Power and Images of the Sorcerer´s Apprentice was made after six years of research, in order to incorporate archival material in a dense collage about the power of television and its endless flow of images. The use of pre-recorded material has always constituted a powerful tendency in videocreation, and in this field Distel and Guyer attain a very high level. Their sense of time, rhythmic counterpoint and the ironic parallelism between two narratives transform Goethe´s story The Socerer´s Apprentice into an unnerving metaphor.

Forza Italia. Roberto Faenza 45', 1977. Italy.

“Can you imagine a country run by the same people for 30 years? (…) Forza Italia is a ferocious political satire, of the kind it is hard to see. In fact, bets have been placed as to when it will be embargoed, prohibited for “crimes against the State’.” Sure enough, just after its premiere, and in spite of its success with the public (250,000 spectators in just 60 days), the Italian government, taking advantage of the kidnapping and death of Aldo Moro, prohibited the public screening of the film. For almost 20 years it has been condemned to silence. It has proven impossible to show it in cinemas or on television, only small, private projections have been possible. In 1995 it was released on videocassette and provoked a controversy among members of the Forza Italia party, who wanted to require that the film´s title be changed. Forza Italia ia a “damned” film, an eloquent and valiant film about the history of the Italian republic, created entirely from pre-recorded material from film and television archives.

The history of the previous 30 years reviewed through the names and events of the political, social and fashion worlds which have dominated Italian public life. The image of Italy as it has been depicted in official news media, by way of manipulation, distortion and propaganda. The voice of power, of the dominant political class, which for years has controlled the mass media and has thus created an artificial world with no room for minorities or opposition. A monopolized universe, constructed to please the “Palace” and its powerful protagonists.

  • The Dream Guard