Venice like you’ve never seen it before

Foto: Rapid Eye Movies

Yuri Ancarani paints a portrait of Venice in “Atlantide” that creates some of the most outstanding cinematic moments of the year. Now in cinemas.


The small boats promise a last piece of freedom, sometimes gliding, sometimes racing through the lagoon of Venice. Elsewhere it would be cars, here watercraft are becoming a means of transport, a retreat and a status symbol. A couple of hooligans tinker with these vehicles, electric basses boom from draped speakers. On the water, people engage in dangerous races, consume drugs, collect sexual experiences or simply drift with the water.

Der Documentaryfilmer Yuri Ancarani („The challenge“) has this attitude towards life with “Atlantis“ an immensely fascinating work with powerful images and sounds. It is an attempt to give the city of Venice and its adolescent residents a new artistic form. Between tourist hotspots and cultural monuments steeped in history, Ancarani creates a portrait of youth whose summery lightness is constantly being overwhelmed by its downside.

Young half-naked man in the lagoon
Foto: Rapid Eye Movies

The Sinking City

“Atlantide” – even the title breathes a mood of doom. Venice is another city sinking under the sea, a new Atlantis. Ancarani shows a youth who, in this wet, damp cosmos, looks its hopelessness in the eye. Even the dolphins in the water are already beginning to rot, become fatal, and no longer point the way. Nothing seems worth anything anymore. One is satisfied with a little showdown, a few small competitions. Or you work on the facade: that of the boats, but also of the body. On one occasion, Ancarani shows hands being worked on in a manicure session. The two women can be heard speaking in the background. When asked about her future, the girl replies that she has stopped dreaming. Her nails are filed off in a close-up.

“Atlantide” is not a film of explanations that would investigate the causes. That might lend him a touch of superficiality itself. And yet his staged observations create some of the tightest, most unforgettable film moments of this cinema year. Because Atlantis is a film about watching, cinema at its purest. It is an exploratory, curious, ambivalent permutation of a place and a space of sensations that Ancarani explores from the boats, which in turn navigate the water in a picturesque choreography of neon lights. He looks for traces on walls, masts, vehicles that someone left behind in the past. Possessed locations can be seen here.

Boy and girl in boat at night
Foto: Rapid Eye Movies

“Atlantide” tells about seeing

Once the wide world breaks into this cosmos: A cruise ship pushes itself into the picture as a luminous, screen-filling wall, eyes meet. What are they seeing anyway? Ornament, blurred shapes. You look at each other and yet past each other. There are the gaping tourists in their colossal rolling cities, perhaps seeing a panorama, a collection of architectural beauties. And they look back, unable to truly meet each other: the local youth haunted by those holiday monsters and a touch of wanderlust.

It’s a film about a world alienated from its own identity while being charged with all sorts of exoticizing images. Here the old sanctuary, a consecrated place, next door a party of people who can no longer do anything with the historical ballast and don’t want to. Here the projections from outside, there the actual reality of life of those who are not allowed to travel from place to place, to rise from their own existence and break out. “Atlantide” shows these conflicts in such a masterfully atmospheric way, without wanting to simplify them into total truths.

Venice port
Foto: Rapid Eye Movies

Afterlife journey through Venice

It’s about dying, but isn’t it just one predictable catastrophe of many that looms in these final hints of unbridled hedonism? Yuri Ancarani doesn’t offer a simple answer, but lets the city do the talking in an unforgettable final act. It shows the attempts of a growing generation to conquer this mystical, desolate, silent place with loud bass and flickering lights. Feeling yourself in a state of intoxication, ecstasy, interpersonal relationships for a short time. But it’s no use, light and sound fade away in the gloomy water lanes.

Venice, the Atlantis, swallows up the camera at some point. She glides through bridges and urban canyons, turns, blurs with reflections. A city creates abstract structures, an architectural kaleidoscope. From oppressive gloom, it eventually leads to final moments of beauty, a light. You have to tilt your head to see anything clearly in this hypnotic, human-free journey to the afterlife. And that’s what this stunning film teaches you: to change perspective.

“Atlantide” celebrated its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival in 2021. The film has been running regularly in German cinemas since September 8, 2022.



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