Three short sequences mark the beginning of the “Mittagsstunden”, three snapshots of the passage of time. It takes place in different decades in Brinkebüll, the fictional village somewhere near Husum, and is the main character in this movie. You first see the Sönke Feddersen Inn in 1965, a young woman running and going away to the wheat field, smoking a cigarette and looking at the clouds, which is pretty cool.
Continuing in 1976, the woman’s name is Marit Federsen, as we now know, she fears the end of the world. This will also come to her this year, but everyday life is still the order of the day – Marit standing in front of the very busy grocery store. You can see that Marit’s mind is a bit lost this time, people say she’s “crooked”, but no one cares. The village is united.
The last sequence happened in 2012, Sönke Feddersen is old, his wife Ella has dementia, the village is a no-man’s land. The streets are straight, the shops are gone, and there are no people anywhere, as it seems in many places today. So the structural and social changes of the past 50 years are going through, and it’s not pretty. The film continues to loosely weave these three timelines, piecing together a lost image that fills it with prolonged gloom.
There is another Feddersen family member, Ginger. In 1976 he was ten years old, while for a long time he was a lecturer at Kiel University. Ginger takes two semesters and returns to the “old” in Brinkpool, to the astonishment of his friends in Kiel. But he wants to take care of her now while they are still alive, even if they didn’t expect anything from him.
Writer Dörte Hansen guides you through her novel “Mittagsstunden” with ginger, and director Lars Jessen now guides you through the film with ginger. And through the frustrating story of the Feddersens, a small psychological drama in its own right, combined with larger dramas such as the consolidation of the lands and the exodus from the countryside, along with the unforgiving passage of time.
Jessen doesn’t show agricultural change in a very subtle way. Pictures appear jagged, curves become straight lines, barahas become a field, and the master saves a burial heap of excavators risking his life. The large tree in the center of the village is cut down so that it can accelerate through the traffic without hindrance. The residents take care of the entire turmoil themselves, inspired by the belief in progress, and only Marit seems to realize what is lost in the process. Terrified, standing under the tree on which the chainsaws are already working, at the top you can hear the screeching of birds, which will soon be without a home.
Home is where older people know more about you than you do
Jason also made it the theme for “Midday Clock,” Home. It shows it as the place where you know everything, people and processes, paths and shortcuts. To do so, he brings the past into play, because Ginger understands that home is where others know more about him than he knows himself. He knows the few villagers who have left stories of his parents or grandparents, whom he only knows primitively or even has no idea. You follow him curiously through his autobiography, the beauty of which is that Jason does not portray her melancholy. Marret sings from the ’60s and dances in the pub in stockings, and Sönke takes care of her orphaned baby, so you touch her so you can laugh and cry at the same time.
What Jason also uses is accent. There are two versions of the film, one in Low German and one in Standard German. All scenes were shot twice, on Platt first because the gist of the scene seemed clearer that way. People don’t talk much in this movie, which is unfortunate, and one would like to hear more from Platt. Even with its scattered sentences, one notices how the accent weakens the edges of the language, sometimes softens the content, and sometimes intensifies. For locals, it creates a connection that outsiders can’t reach, no matter how great the folklore fervor. Plus, the palette reinforces the realism that gingerbread town residents crave as they overlook the pros and cons of their visual cookers.
Despite their composure, they are sensitive in Brinkpool, Jason explains. Above all about Sönke Feddersen, which gives young people back home more manifestations than words. But it usually has a deeper meaning than the dialogue, you can understand that with Ginger, played by Charlie Hubner, which is pretty cool. He wanders briskly in the gloomy place, always attentive to his surroundings, which gradually opens a new perspective on his life.
Jessen shows a lot of everyday life, from the hustle and bustle of the inn, where all the Feddersens help, to the mysterious disappearance of Marit – her only footprints left in the tar in the corridor, as if they had been taken up in the air and like birds flew away. It combines that with the present, as ginger tries to bring some luxury to the lives of the elderly and fails, or rocks the line dance club to boost the mood. What Jason says is rather surprising, it’s amazing how he connects the personal to the observation of social conditions.
In addition, there are characters because of which he does not subject himself to the nonsense of drawing “stranger” people out of the country, but makes them feel as sad, idle and ill-tempered as everyone else. They rarely become emotional, sometimes he gives them a surprising friendship. Through these characters, through their gentle demeanor towards each other, Jason’s film gives cause for hope. Although it strongly shows the damage done to villages, community and nature in the last 50 years.
noon hour2021 – Directed by: Lars Jessen. Screenplay: Katharina Genk, based on the novel by Dorty Hansen. With Charlie Hubner, Peter Frank, Gro Swantje Kollhof and Hildegard North. 96 min. Majestic Film Distribution. Movie release: September 22, 2022.
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