A new day. A woman and her shadow in the sunny backlight of a window. Steps on creaky floorboards, a shower curtain – some solemn morning routine. A thrilled female off voice elates this to “one of the happiest moments in my life.“ – This is how THANKS begins.
In the following the film will be accompanying the woman. Closely but in an en passant manner the camera lens pursues the ordinary: which may be the homely cosiness of a flat, lit-flooded rooms with prospering plants, a parking lot of a DIY-store, a walk in a sunny snowy scenery, a family festivity, a gallery. The camera observes: two persons cooking, the doing of a job of an artistic existence, being at the dentist, watching cosily a film at home, sleeping in a hotel bed, being in a public toilet…
The simplicity of the normal everyday in sequential documentary notations contrasts with the fade-in of the actresses’ voices and their partly upset emotionality as above of the voices’ authenticity a shade of doubt lies. Throughout the happening scenes the words are mostly put into the protagonist’s mouth. Thanks is very emotionally being said – or thought? Only after some time a music fragment reveals: it is some excerpts from the Nights of the Academy Awards Ceremony going on. – Other than this this silence. Apart from ambient sounds the woman totally seems to be with herself despite of all uproars happening. This quietness and the perceptible words are juxtaposing by their dense dichotomies: while the spectator’s attention is being challenged, feeling is directed into a multiply building of associations.
THANKS shows the portray of a person in fragmented close-ups – be it by encounters, touches, time spent with others, meals shared, in the midst of the current environment or secluded, thrown on one’s own thoughts, invisible wounds and moods. In a laconic melancholy that partly ironically breaks open the severity necessities and needs are stringed together. Among those: the sun, again and again the sun.
THANKS does not tell a compelling story in the Hollywoodian sense. Petra Lottje’s quiet and non-perfect pictures rather remind one to pause. They direct the focus to non-events – being hardly remarkable – , to trivia, simply: to moments of a life. The off-voices, separated from the context of “Tinseltown”, lay on top of the shown with a loaded aura like glitters of thoughts. The connotation of words, coming out of the mouth of the mostly emotionless seeming protagonist, sway from intimate dialogue to expressive doubt to appellative request. The video-sound-collage condenses into a multi-dimensional atmospheric picture of an attentive consciousness. Those who are intrigued may for certain discover humour here. In the end everyone is addressed, the existence of everyone, the real life of every single one. In the reality of most people glamour is very rare, a pompous auditorium does not exist, there are hardly enough “spectators” who participate.
Being conscious means perceiving. – THANKS by Petra Lottje tells precisely about this. Along of small events without any fictional strands a story happens by perceiving, by consciousness, by conscious being, by being alone and alone by being – and by beautiful seconds of being awake having evaded the blindness of the moment.
The film releases one into humility. The great, possibly forever lasting, happiness often created on the cinema screen remains as pathetic illusion of a rather worldly entertainment industry. The one who does not miss the unremarkable but real moments of life may be called a happy person.
Text: Katrin Günther
English translation: Charlotte Luise Fechner