Sven Johne, 2013

Some Engels

Some time in the afternoon in an anonymous day office in Berlin a group of actors are about to audition. A young American casting director from Brooklyn is apparently looking for an actor to play Friedrich Engels in a film otherwise not referred to. He has to hold the funeral oration Engels held in English for his friend and comrade in arms Karl Marx on 17 March, 1883 in London.

The six actors invited to the audition provide a short overview of their biographies, enumerating their professional success or lack of it and endeavouring to present themselves as appropriate candidates for the role while under fire by the increasingly quibbling torments imposed by the casting director. They turn to the camera, modulate their voices, strive to merge with the aged Engels, revealing in the process the deeper recesses of their own souls.

The casting director has just listened with empathy to the performance by one of the actors and now becomes the representative of a world where only external appearances count. He has the actors turn around in front of the camera, present their hands and put on ill-fitting false beards. The viewer is seduced into assuming his role, tempted to identify with him, suddenly arriving at the frightening realization that this casting director has spent so much time casting reality TV that he has lost touch with real life.

Some Engels works with counterpoint. The actors are supposed to speak at the grave of the very person who promulgated more radically than any other the idea of a free and just society and yet they are themselves imprisoned in the exactly contrary situation. They offer no resistance, must practice patience, they are powerless to do anything even when an ignorant casting director employs subtle tactics to destroy their human dignity.

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Some Engels
Sven Johne
1 channel video, color video, stereo audio
1920px x 1080px, 27'13"