Roland Reber‘s 2003 drama, “The Dark Side of Our Inner Space”, is an interesting exploration of human nature in unnatural surroundings. Much like the Canadian classic, “Cube”, it explores darker human instincts like selfishness, fickleness and desire, although in an entirely different manner. Here, participants volunteer, and the location itself of “The Big Game” acts a metaphor to describe human behaviour.
Five people are chosen to play ‘The Big Game’ at a disused Army barracks by ‘HE’, its mysterious owner. Called the ‘Barracks of Freedom’, participants are free to set their own rules and laws. The purpose is for the group to free themselves from societal norms and do whatever they want to do. Marcus, Anna, Kai, Jessie, and Tanja are introduced to each other when they arrive at the barracks – they will compete in games created among themselves to reach ‘The Big Game’. They are all of different temperament and walks of life, the only similarity is their desire to compete and win. What starts off as a game soon becomes sinister as we see each participant trying to deceive the other. Morals and scruples are set aside in their quest for ‘The Big Game’, in which only the coolest of heads will prevail. What is the point in winning this game. And is life itself a game..?
I was surprised to see that very little had been written about this film – I too wouldn’t have known about it if it wasn’t included in my box-set. It certainly requires reappraisal as it is actually quite deep in places – laying out in open shortcomings in what we call ‘civilized societies’. Most of Reber’s introspective philosophical musings are made by the enquiring mind of one of the participants, Tanja, and although she works within the group’s rules, there is an air of detachment about her.
With this storyline, it would have been so easy to go berserk by focusing on sex and violence too much. It doesn’t, only depicting as much as is necessary. Mr. Reber explains in an interview, “…if we remove violence and sexuality out of the film, it would no longer have anything to do with human beings”. As with all Reber productions, the film had been allowed to take shape organically during its making, and several of his cast also double up as the crew. Mr. Reber himself acts in the film as ‘HE’, and Mira Gittner who gives a restrained performance as Tanja also took up cinematography and editing duties. As for the technical aspects, the soundtrack is catchy, lending itself to the theme, the overall characterisation is well conceived – none of them look like caricatures, and the film even has a lighter side. But the film is not light entertainment, despite the simple screenplay.
In fact, parts of the film would have escaped me if not for one of the stars of the film, Marina Anna Eich. She is also WTP International’s (their film production company) PR and Sales Manager, and was extremely helpful by providing me the dialogue sheet for the film in English.
The DVD features footage deleted from the final cut, an ‘alternative’ ending, and also an interesting interview with Mr. Reber about the making of the film. Needless to say, Recommended Viewing..!
Dialogue Sheet in English
(for those who can’t follow German)