Film Review: Manifesto

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Dir: Julian Rosefeldt
Staring: Cate Blanchett
101 mins | Art House | 15

The manifestos from the numerous cultural fields have moulded the passions and creativity of many an artist. What they leave us with are tokens from the time they were written and, more importantly, why they were written.

Taken from the installations by Julian Rosefeldt from 2015, Manifesto is the gathering up of all the footage to form a feature film. It’s a film of sorts which had very little general appeal, even with the remarkable talents of Cate Blanchett. Here, she takes on the guise of thirteen different characters, each utilising a manifesto text. Through the film, we get the Futurists, Dada, Andy Warhol, John Cage, Werner Herzog amongst others. This collection is anything but coherent (several texts are deliberately cryptic) and the settings for each are as random as can be.

Blanchett meshes all the roles into a singular harmony. She may put on wigs, try out different accents and disguise herself (she is unrecognisable as a Scottish vagrant in one part), but she proves once again why she is one of the best living actresses today. Her dynamic nature is compelling, even if our eyes might glaze over during these hefty speeches. Who else could have tackled this with such vigour as Blanchett?

Prior to the start of the film, we get a few candid moments with Blanchett and Rosefeldt asking each other which artists and movements they preferred. His undying love for Luis Buñuel is clearly evident, as is proven with his pristine direction of the film. The camera here is magnificent in all its journeys and is one of the best markers of the film. Yet I do feel the original gallery space would be in the desired location to watch these tableaux.

I’d certainly recommend Manifesto for those studying fine art, the open minded or just die hard lovers of Blanchett.

Impressive, if opaque.


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