History isn’t a succession of battles fought and treaties signed by important men, it’s the passage of time as ordinary people recall it. In any case, that’s how director Peter Kerekes presents it. At the center of this story, he places the swimming pool in the east Slovakian city of Košice.
In the time between the pool’s construction in 1936 and the making of this documentary, memory of the Austro-Hungarian Empire fades, the Second World War starts, communism arrives on the scene, the Velvet Revolution unfolds, the Berlin Wall comes down, and the EU prospers. But in the microcosm of Košice, the game of seduction between boys and girls is more important than these major events of the 20th century. Their real lives are shaped by desires and relationships. Their aging and ultimate death is the true measure of time.
Visitors to the swimming pool concur with Kerekes that it’s only film that survives us as the bearer of history. And the director adds his customary ironic counterpoint to these comments in the form of a Hitler look-alike, surreal dream sequences and artificially aged footage.