Interlude: Interior

A place to suffer, the set as psyche: Interior design in Douglas Sirk’s underrated masterpiece INTERLUDE from 1957 exteriorizes paranoid minds and neurotic relationships into furniture, wallpapers and sickly colors. Everything becomes make-believe in this room and is seen as such. The chair looks painted, a trompe-l’œil like the vista on the wall behind it. But the irreality of the scene does not diminish its claustrophobia. On the contrary. In a room like this there is no way out.

The image deteriations in the film copy I used add to the overall effect: With the color fringing at the borders the main characters looks as painterly as their surroundings. The color is seeping at the seams – drained characters, literally. Thus, the misaligned color which renders human figures less realistic aligns them with the excessive illusionism of painted space. „In mourning it is the world which has become poor and empty; in melancholia it is the ego.“ says Freud. 

Melancholia is not only what the character of the manic-depressive Reni suffers from but all protagonists and this very film itself. Set in a Munich all bright and gay, with Hitler’s buildings seen from taxis carrying american tourists to their temporary homes. Lucky those, which can visit these places just as the title says, as an interlude. But those in it do not get out.