Was wir wollen / what we want is a film from the series “Auf den Spuren des schönen Lebens – Searching for Days outside of time” by Adrian Kuchenreuther and David Herbst with Konstantin Arnold and Catarina Fernandes. Absorbing, nostalgic and breathtakingly beautiful!
What do we want anyway? Dream of love or live love? True love, that does not exist because there is just love. What do we want? Take responsibility? For this, but not that, whatever that is. What do we want? To hold a hand without hurting it? A drink in the afternoon, a place that’s still open, a phone call. A little numbness, another body to warm yourself. What do we want?[…] At the end of that summer, we resided in a village on a hill overlooking many other villages. We could see the bays and the roads winding in the distance like fading melodies. Our hotel was old and big, the steep stairs kept the many tourists away, only rarely did we see a dowdy-dressed outsider. The vines on the slopes were full of ripened fruit, the scenery like something out of a movie. A place where a summer love could easily slip into fall. We knew no time, because there was none. The only appointments of the day were breakfast or a table reservation or a boat tour. We swam far out and jumped off the rocks into the sea, and the sea suited her perfectly. She could swim in the sea like temptation in Jacques Deray’s La Piscine. The other women in the cafes praised her tan and her jewelry. We stood at the counter with them after our swim and drank coffee and talked about the coast and her tan. Sometimes thunderstorms came up and brought rain. First came the wind and then the clouds, the boats fled to their harbors and drew white lines in the blue like traces of memories. We had never known such rain. It was merciful and did not take up all the color of the sky. For a moment the world looked like a glass of rosé held up against the heavens. Everything was still and things were glowing. Night came out of the valleys, and you could see where houses stood everywhere. They appeared lonely and alone in the mountains or flickering in distant bays over the sea. In those nights, in the hotel, in our room, with the thunderstorm outside and us in bed, after getting rid of a certain feeling, dispelling all doubts, with the empty corridors and the Jaguar in front of the door, we became believers. They say that once you’ve seen the gulf like this, you can never be completely unhappy again.
Greek epics, Roman decadence. An Arcadia in the sloshing archaic sea. This is how the great masters painted their immortal panoramas, in the days of the Grand Tour, that traditional trip through Europe undertaken by young men of sufficient means and rank, officially for many noble reasons, but actually in order to gain experience in erotic matters, as they called it back then. The sea roaring in the background since time immemorial. Today the terraces are populated by romantics and millionaires, owners of yachts with helicopter landing pads. Men who, when they see an even bigger yacht coming into the bay, feel compelled to justify themselves to their wives.
Driving through a village like that, with a car like that, and getting out the way she did, with dress and headscarf, it seemed like the villagers thought the world of us. The old people shouted “bravo” from the stands and the village madonnas sat on plastic chairs of the sort you see in suburban gardens. Children ran after us shouting “la macchina, la macchina”, hardly able to believe that there was a blue Jaguar rolling through their village. We walked barefoot into tobacco stores, had a quick drink with someone, and rolled past crowded places in a country that takes pleasure in beauty instead of envying it. At first, the Jaguar was an extreme blue, but in the eyes of the Italians, the color didn’t seem so ugly. Especially after sunset, when the deep blue of twilight settled on the hood, and we could see the sky reflected in the paint and looked at the hills of Positano. The view was reflected in her eyes. It was like a memory of something that hadn’t quite happened yet. Because everything already lay behind us, and her hand onmy leg. The air smelled of warm nights and flowers that hadn’t yet been picked. The town was down there, and we were driving up here, under a boundless sky with the top down.
It ended up being a very romantic road trip, a midsummer moment out of time. Once we had looked out long enough from the balcony of a hotel, we drove on, from one meal to the next, on roads of which the Italians claim they wash away the weaknesses of men and the sadness of things. Only once did we roll into a rough part of town, so to speak. Vacant hotels, closed restaurants. Women working in roadside rest areas wearing high heels despite the midday heat. The sight of the sea had turned their eyes blue.
The long straight that had led us through all the valleys came to an end. On the last day of our trip, in the last light of day, we passed over our last hill before Palermo. We drove uphill for quite a while and saw how it was down there, by the sea, the bay, facing Africa. A single waterfront district. It was wonderful to arrive at the hotel after a long trip and have a porter call us by name for the last time and welcome us and take the Jaguar from us and fill it up while we went to our room and washed away the wind of the trip, lay down on the bed, picked up the phone, ordered newspapers and cigarettes and a drink. The doorbell rang and the porter was at the door, wide-eyed and white-toothed and smoking cigarettes and hoping for a tip. We gave him what he deserved and a little more, went back into the room. She brushed her hair. The light fell over the mirror on her hair and neck and bare shoulders. But we did not undress again, instead we went to the bar, sat in deep leather armchairs, wrote a letter, went to the sea.
A bottle and two glasses between us, the journey behind us. We wanted just this one more and promised ourselves never to be unhappy again, and then we were. Eternity in the chest, that’s how man is. What do we want anyway? To dream of love or to live love? A little stupor, a body to warm oneself on? To accept responsibility? To drive even faster without dying? To hold a hand without hurting it? The Sicilians say experiences are good, but it would be better to have them even before you make them.
film by Adrian Kuchenreuther and David Herbst
with Konstantin Arnold and Catarina Fernandes
words and photography by Konstantin Arnold
director & dp: Adrian Kuchenreuther
edit & sounddesign: David Herbst
colorist: Johan Nurmilehto
music by: Gustavo Santaolalla – Forgotten Memories & Zenda
shot on Kodak Vision3 50 D (7203), 250 T (7213) and 500 T (7219) super 8 stock