Der Lauf Der Dinge

Austin Chronicle

DIRECTED BY: Peter Fischli

REVIEWED: 11-24-97

Falling water fills a bowl, causing a can to float, which tips a chair, spilling a pitcher of god-knows-what. A burning pyre boils water in a teakettle, and the steam blows a dart into a balloon full of ... full of... 409? Rube Goldberg come to life? He damn near does in the dank German physics-fest Der Lauf Der Dinge (The Way It Goes), a curious black & white documentary that threatens to out-contrap the master of contraptions himself. The Way It Goes is, quite simply, a real-time video showing a chain reaction of immense proportions, all powered by natural forces - steam, gravity, friction, sublimation, and plenty of fire. Along the way, all manner of inanimate objects get involved: candles, coke bottles, loafers, watering cans, pushbrooms, car tires, and a host of frothy chemicals straight from the nearest Superfund site. The entire event involves hundreds of intricate interactions and lasts a good thirty minutes - by far more ingenious than any paltry domino run, and precisely the kind of hijinks that you suspect go on in the basement of the Physics Building when the overworked graduate students have had a few too many Twinkies. There is no narration, no soundtrack, no living, breathing creature of any sort - just those damn household items spinning, spilling, and spewing all over the place. To be sure, it is as boring as it is fascinating: Your mind will wander, but you won't dare look away for a second, lest you miss an unparalleled act of leverage, propulsion, or combustion. All this and a German aesthetic to boot. It's the kind of film that probably deserves a cult following. Just don't try it at home.

--Jay Hardwig

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