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Swiss watches and Unrest: Ranjan's recommendation for the week!

Set against the clock manufacturing industry in a small Swiss town in the 1870s, UNREST (Switzerland, 2022) deals with the brewing anarchist movement amongst the local workers who seek to link up with the movement in other parts of Europe, including the US, much against the diktats of watch factory owners and local administration. But don’t get influenced by the title or the subject matter; it’s in no way dramatic as the name suggests.

In fact, the ‘unrest’ in the film is used to denote a tiny spiral wheel that balances the intricate mechanisms of the watches being manufactured; but the metaphor is obvious. The film eschews the dramatic mode in its entirety and adopts a rigid formal structure, both in its screenplay and mise-en-scene that reverberates with complex layers of meaning; the characters are framed in long shots, at the extreme edge of the frame in which the landscape or the architecture dominates. It could be alienating, but then you get used to it soon. The intricate sound design that resonates with clock sounds and murmurs is the other highlight of the film. And of course, the film weaves a rich travesty of the most interesting characters going about their daily lives caught in the flux of both political and technological transition, signaling a new world order.

This most unusual film by Swiss writer-director Cyril Schaublin is streaming on MUBI.

Ranjan Das is a Mumbai based filmmaker & faculty.

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