Jul 21, 2016

(Muscha, West Germany, 1984, DCP, 87 min, in German, Portuguese, and English with English subtitles)

Culled from the themes and writings of William S. Burroughs, legendary German cult film Decoder explores techno-fear, dystopian power, mass control and resistance. Examining the science of Muzak as a musical tranquilizer used to calm the masses in public spaces, Muscha’s film follows a young punk FM (played by Einstürzende Neubauten’s F. M. Einheit) and sound enthusiast as he decodes this music and discovers that it is a brain poison. His sonic experiments lead to the creation of an antidote he uses, along with urban pirates, to create a series of tape-terror disruptions. Powerful corporations enlist a shadowy agent to stop the anti-Muzak movement. The subcultural ideas and aesthetics of the early 1980s in Berlin and beyond explode in Decoder - which had its Seattle premiere in 1986 - and its insight resonates today. Featuring William S. Burroughs, Christiane F., F. M. Einheit and a stellar soundtrack.

Decoder presents a uniquely political interpretation of Burroughs’s work, and directly attributes the narrative’s central corners to his tape-recorder experiments. He only appears for a short time, yet he remains a powerful figure clearly present in the margins of the text.” -- Jack Sargeant, Naked Lens

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