I am a doctor on expedition
by Heidrun Moessner
Premiere in the Bremen: Schauburg
Sunday, November 16, 2003 at 12.00 a.m
"There is a whole book about it", said Eva Reich about an episode in her father's life that she herself only mentions in one sentence. Everything she talks about during this 76 minutes long documentary has been captured in books and if you have not read at least a few of them you could have problems in understanding what she is talking about. The herself of the sexual revolution, talks here about her life, which is inseparably linked to the fate and deed of her 'over mighty' father. She says," He was a dictator, but in a good sense". Such sentences, the contradictions of which she is surely aware, are part of what makes this film documentary so thrilling.
The Bremen film director, Heidrun Moessner, has waived all explanations radically, which means there is no comment from the side or taking the spectator by the hand and leading him through this film and this life. At first you are a bit lost but the voice of this nearly 80 year old woman gradually pulls you into the film. You listen intently because rarely does someone talk with such exact analysis and in such a detailed and moving way, about his life. With a soft Vienna idiom that has got some American influence - because Eva Reich has been living in the USA since her expulsion from Nazi Germany - she tells for instance that she had already then delivered sex education to other children on the street explaining to them where babies come from.
The biggest achievement of a documentary director is to find an interesting person, gain that person's trust and place him/her in front of a camera and let him/her talk. Heidrun Moessner has done exactly this. On one occasion Eva Reich sits at her kitchen table, dressed in jeans, and looks so cool and relaxed: from this angle it expresses how at home she is in America. The director and the camera man, Henry Fried, comment from time to time on the memories of the protagonist with curiously blurred, slow motion shots in black and white (the shutter effect), that appear like dream images or free associations. Underlying these images is the piano score by the Bremen film musician André Feldhaus, which is like the accompaniment to a silent film.
"Shall I tell all this now?" asks Eva Reich directly into the camera and the answer must have been "Yes". During the cutting the film was inevitably shortened and therefore there are many narrative leaps: a few sentences about Reich's "cloudbuster", his organ accumulator and his imprisonment have to suffice - but more books have been written about this. However, it is interesting to see how passionately this old lady still defends the work of her father. How excited she gets about it shows that this wound is still open. And the one sentence, "I became reconciled with him - after his death" makes one sense a lot that remains unspoken. That she herself moved through the USA with a caravan in order to educate the American rural population on contraception and that she became the authority on alternative healing, she only mentions rather casually and without any vanity.
Heidrun Moessner has shot a declaration of love for this wise, old and beautiful woman and by doing this, the film is full of positive energy that would surely make Papa Reich's accumulator hum.