Decoder

1984 [GERMAN]

Horror / Mystery / Sci-Fi

2
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 50%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 50%
IMDb Rating 6.3/10 10 1072 1.1K

Director

Top cast

720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
815.91 MB
1280*960
Multiple languages 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 28 min
Seeds 8
1.48 GB
1440*1080
Multiple languages 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 28 min
Seeds 16

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by UnknownDoomer 5 / 10

Tech / Noir

Industrial and urban landscapes, a predominance of dark tones, laconic dialogues, and an electronic soundtrack - the four main components of this film, which can be classified as a rather rare subgenre of techno-noir. The atmosphere and surroundings, as quite regularly happens in an art house, significantly prevail over everything else.

In order to somehow minimally connect the mentioned elements into a single whole, a storyline was conceived dedicated to a certain F. M., who spends a little more than all his free time on musical experiments. One day he discovers that the population is under the control of a corporation hidden in the shadows called "Muzak". As it's main instrument, it uses specifically processed, hypnotic music, in fragments of which hidden messages are sewn (here one cannot help but suggest analogies with the works of John Carpenter, be it "Aliens Among Us" (1988) or the more peculiar "Videodrome" (1982)). If you edit one of the tapes with such recordings, you can get the opposite effect. Quite naturally, his hobbies fall into the attention spectrum of mysterious people and an agent with the call sign Yeager is sent to hunt for him. The main character also has a girl who performs in a peep show and is interested in frogs.

It would be possible to dwell in more detail on certain subtleties and twists and turns of the plot, such as the same diner where paramilitary orders reign, but this makes not much sense, since they serve only as a necessary background for the audiovisual elements. The artistic component is periodically diluted with real documentary inserts. In particular, the riots shown in the films are a real chronicle, and the action itself probably takes place somewhere in the western part of Berlin. In the context of local electronic-industrial music, there are a couple of notable tracks. In contrast to the somewhat similar in spirit, but much more highly specialized "Liquid Sky" (1982), it almost does not flow into obsessive, white noise - certainly a plus for the overall action.

In the end, I note that with all that has been said, the picture is still specific, an extraordinary example of a cult project, but for a narrow circle of people, that does not pretend to be anything more. In other words, if you liked certain elements from the first "Terminator" (1984), then this picture may either fine to watch or seem like just a set of strange, incoherent clips.

Reviewed by J. Steed 7 / 10

VERY TENSE POETRY

A film with the simple story subject of a man who wants to oppose the ever present muzak in a hamburger restaurant and other places deserves any credit it can get, surely if it has been made into this remarkable and very stylistic German cult films of the 80's. Inspired by W.S. Burroughs, who also has a cameo, the makers came up with a very tense, very good edited and very rhythmic film that invites the viewer not only to watch, but also to feel the poetry of the film.

There is the wonderful cinematography by Johanna Heer, giving in general the film a steal blue colour. Variations are made for the different characters and different situations. In an interview producer Klaus Maeck may have said that to him this style seemed to be exaggerated, I think that the film could not have done without this cinematographic style.

Then there is the very good music that accompanies the film, and adding to the rhythm of the film. The script, simple as it may be, is well written, although there are a couple of flaws, the main being that it takes too long. But do not expect a linear told story, this is not that kind of a film; you have to carefully study and interpret every image to know what is going on. This does not mean that the makers were not able to tell a story, it is part of the overall poetic style: the viewer has to go through this film.

Though the acting may not be of greatest importance as the filmed image is main story teller, some of the acting should have been much better. With all due respect to Christiane F., she never comes further than saying her lines. Bill Rice as the undercover agent is the best and seems to have walked out of a Raymond Chandler novel.

The riots you see are actual riots the makers made use of. The riots accompanied President Reagan's visit to Berlin. After seeing this film you probably will not enter any hamburger restaurant again, which to me may be the strongest reason to watch the film. I recommend this to the discriminating film buff. What a pity that this team never produced another one. (8/10)

Reviewed by samxxxul 8 / 10

Zeitgeist of the Berlin 1980s! counterculture!

Decoder is a bizarre, neon-drenched, proto-cyberpunk, bureaucratic surveillance drama film from West Germany featuring FM Einheit of German industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten as a young noise freak with hacking ambitions employed in a hamburger shop. He discovers that replacing the Muzak (background music played in retail stores, elevators) imposed by the government with industrial noise will alter people's behaviour. Inspired by an encounter with a noise-pirate high priest (played by Genesis P-Orridge of industrial pioneers Throbbing Gristle), he rebels against the Government for using music as weapon of corporate mind-control and environmental sedation leading to consumerism and massification. He then plays his mix partly made up of the distorted bleat of a screaming frog, only to turn into the countries most wanted noise terrorist for inciting riots.

Decoder is inspired by the Electronic Revolution (1970) by William S. Burroughs, who appears in the film, it has a strong anti-consumerist message, quotes about Lady Di (Diana), biblical metaphors using frogs as symbols for the vagina. The film is also notable for starring no real actors, Bill Rice (East village avant-garde artist) is Jaeger, a peep-show obsessed company man tasked with starring at snowy surveillance monitors all day, is assigned to putting an end the F.M.'s operation. Christian F. plays FM's girlfriend, a punk peepshow worker who prefers the company of her pet frogs to humans.

Muscha's Decoder is a cult classic and a criminally under-seen masterpiece of German weirdness, before the Internet and cyber warfare shot on 16mm, peppered with bright pink, blue, and green hues with camera work by the Viennese / New Yorker Hannah Heer. It should be considered required watching for anyone who love Shinya Tsukamoto's classic cyberpunks, Sogo Ishii's Electric Dragon 80.000 V and films such as They Live, Vortex (1982) and Liquid Sky. The film is battered in 80s industrial/electronica culture by intense soundtrack from the likes of Einsturzende Neubauten, Soft Cell, The The, and Psychic Tv.

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