Peter Lohmeyer as Wernher von Braun

- Content
- Robert Bramkamp - Biografie
- Filmscore
- The Book to the Film

For Pynchon-Fans:
Yes, I can answer your question unmistakably: GRAVITY’S RAINBOW would be a component and not the basis of the whole project.
(excerpt from a letter to Thomas Pynchon`s agency)

- Pynchon Notes

- Pynchon links im Internet

»Teststand 7« - Content

by Robert Bramkamp

»Teststand 7« is a cinematic essay; a film collage in which the leading character, the »rocket«, not only plays a role in space research and warfare, but is also encountered in a surprising number of guises.

The film is set in the present climate of »space revival« and sketches out the period between 1920-1999/2000, demonstrating in a number of ways how rockets affect our lives be it through art, politics, science or even the way we feel. In this way, the film builds up a character portrait of the rocket as a »technological magic wand«.

In its formal structure, the film utilizes a loosely arranged, commented and musically accompanied soundtrack. A series of off-voices, original sound effects and music forms a continuous narration which is broken down into 7 sections. The visual portion of the film utilizes a combination of current documentation and interviews as well as historic film material and productions.

The content of the film concentrates on the »rocket« - as a technical object in itself and, at the same time, a symbol for super technology. Although »man-made«, the rocket is just the opposite of a tool which can simply be utilized. It is symbolic of the transition of a technology which allows humanity to »join in« or bear witness or surrounds us with its effects. The rocket also appears to lead a fascinating life of its own. A great deal of the events take place in remote areas, in deserts and the upper echelons of industrial giants, in symbolic zones and landscapes of the soul - »out there« - but still somehow in our minds. Thus, since its appearance on the scene, the rocket has revolutionized our perceptions of time, space, body, and probably of life and death.

Just how and where further development of these processes can be found and implemented, is the thematic interest of the project. The film serves to combine the technical, social and physical aspects of the rocket.

In Germany, the revival of the rocket is manifested by the appearance of theme parks and exhibition sites. The documentary investigation of these diverse activities, which in themselves are significant regarding their extremely different methods and materials to represent rocketry, forms the starting-point of the film project in relation to everyday life.

In Bremen - as well at Expo 2000 in Hanover - gigantic theme parks are being constructed, simulating the fascination of space travel by means of multimedia, either as »rides« or by the implementation of futuristic exhibition architecture.
Here, the story officially begins in the fifties. Following two attempts to build a Space Park Center in Peenemuende which failed due to heavy criticism, the German Aerospace Industry (DLR) made a thorough revision of its history in May, 1998: »In the beginning, space travel was reserved for the big boys, the so-called superpowers. It was only later that countries such as Germany received a chance to participate.« Now the rocket was able to present itself as an unencumbered vision of the future. And in doing this, the details tell us much about its forgotten past.

In Peenemuende, a memorial park is scheduled to be erected by the year 2000 to reproduce this authentic »cradle of space travel« for visitors and animate them to critical thought. However, the »ethics of technology« department is symptomatically devoid of content. What is needed here is a link between the future of rocketry and the unanswered questions posed by the original A4 rocket (a.k.a. V2).

Free of technical associations and to a certain extent »purely cultural«, the »Mittelbau Dora« memorial in Harz is a constant reminder of the inhuman V2 rocket production facility. But here too, the notorious »division of labor« also leaves its mark on the inland rocketry triangle when those questions posed regarding the interplay between technology, the trivialization of death and the intensified life articulations of the age of rocketry are confined to the past.

The objective of »Test Stand 7« is to put these various worlds of images and ideas into context so that they are then able to supplement each other. This will mean that this character study of rockets will not only provide some surprising details from the rocket's history, but also pose questions about its future. In a second step, these questions will be combined with international aspects of rockets which are little known in Germany.

We will see that in Antwerp, which was the main target of the V2 rocket attacks, although no memorial was ever erected, the importance of the rocket for both the present and future is under investigation. The center of focus of an international discussion on this subject is, surprisingly enough, a novel. In »Gravity's Rainbow« from Thomas Pynchon, the rocket is depicted as a »white whale«. It acts as a catalyst, providing astounding references to the latest developments in space technology such as the »Bremer Hose«, for example, an artificial womb for training astronauts for their long journeys into weightlessness.

In this literary catalyst »Gravity's Rainbow«, references are provided pointing to Internet sites rich in multimedia content dealing with all aspects of rocketry. Suddenly, we hear old familiar-sounding names such as Nordhausen, Peenemuende and IG Farben spoken with strange accents in Italian, English, French and Rumanian as part of artistic events, stories or film cuts. The film attempts to open up these parallel visual worlds for its own subject matter which combine with the open ends of the space revival.

The film discovers further traces of the inner German »Rocket Triangle« in England. In Birmingham, the last fully intact V2 rocket has been disassembled and painstakingly restored. The unlikely assistants in this task are an historian and an art restaurateur (!). Once the outer skin of the »gleaming phallus« has been removed, not only do the amazing inner workings of the liquid gas propelled rocket become visible - a temporary stabilization of volatile gas-heat-pressure liquid conditions. The names of companies and individual components appear with a normality which helps to de-mystify the whole business. The strange, comic scribblings on the oxygen tank are reminiscent of Pynchon and - a bitter pill - engraved in the metal components which serve as protection against sabotage, we find the names of the prisoners who were forced to build the rockets. On the whole, a very earthly contribution to our perception of rocketry.

Also surprising is the inclusion of international links to contemporary philosophy works. Laurence Rickels, for example, utilizes the rocket in a »Logic of Two Coasts«. He tells of a subconscious division of work between Germany and California, which shows Peenemuende - the high-tech idyll on the Baltic shore - as an early version of California on the German coast. In the author's opinion, the second phase of the experiment with bundled group energy and super-technology was carried out in California. According to this theory, the rocket is thus not really undergoing a »revival« at all today. It is just part of an ongoing further development in which, according to Rickels, America did not manage to catch up »with the Nazis« with respect to warlike rocket psychology »or other forms of psychological warfare control« until the Gulf War.
The re-importation of the Californian theme park as the Space Park in Bremen appears less of an imitation or »re-run«, but more as a symptom of the commencement of a new phase, arousing our curiosity for a precise and unprejudiced study.