Sunday, April 17, 2011

ZOETROPE (2011, Rouzbeh Rashidi, Ireland, 72 mins, A++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++)

This is my most favorite film I have seen so far in 2011.

Things I like very much in this film include:

1.Its natural beauty, which makes me cry. I had never thought I would cry for this kind of films. But I saw it twice and I cried both times. Maybe I'm crazy. I don't know. The sunlight in this film is so beautiful. The first time I watched it I cried for the scene depicting many parked cars under the sun (minute 36-37). The second time I watched it I cried for the moment when we see the sun, the sky, and the clouds rolling by after we see a man watering his garden (minute 51). I feel as if I were a vampire who could only experience the beauty of sunlight via this film.

2.Its indescribability. It's so minimal, so anti-story, so poetic, so sublime. I worship this film as much as I worship AGATHA AND THE UNLIMITED READINGS (1981), WINDOWS (1999, Apichatpong Weerasethakul), BIRTH OF THE SEANEMA (2004, Sasithorn Ariyavicha), I FORGOT THE TITLE (2009, Christelle Lheureux), and RUHR (2009, James Benning). All these films give me extreme pleasure and blissful experience by their images and sound (or lack of sound). All these films make me speechless. All these films remind me that it is useless to describe the wonders of these films by my words.

3. It's rare to find a film like this: A film that lets us admire both the beauty of the sunlight and the neon lights, the swaying of trees and grass in the wind, the "dirtiness" of a window, a man sleeping while moving his fingers a little bit, the changing of light during the day, the effects of the changing of light on the grass, trees, wall, curtains, and room. While many films give us climax by having the villain killed, this film gives us excitement by letting us notice the changing of the sunlight on the grass and the wall.

4. Something caught unexpectedly by the camera. I guess this film is a documentary, or mostly documentary, so I love the scene in which a brown t-shirt falls down from a clothesline in minute 16-17 very much. I love it no matter whether the scene is a real scene or a staged/fictional scene. The falling down of a t-shirt is an unimportant event. But when it happens in front of the camera in this film, it feels so sublime. If the scene is real and the director didn't know beforehand that it would happen, I think it is like a small miracle that it happened in front of the camera. It is as if some invisible angels help making it fall down for this film. If the scene is fictional, I still like it very much that Rashidi includes a scene of unimportant event like that in his film.

5.The dirty window scene is extremely beautiful, and a little bit funny. I find it funny because at first I thought the cleaning of the window from the outside would make it clearer, but it isn't. The image is still as blurred as before the cleaning. The image in this scene is as beautiful as an Impressionist painting.

6.The sound of a clock ticking. It is a mundane sound in our everyday life. It becomes "special" in this film.

7.The act of watching. In this film we see someone watching the internet. It reminds me of two scenes in ONLY HUMAN (2009, Rouzbeh Rashidi) and a scene in REMINISCENCES OF YEARNING (2011, Rouzbeh Rashidi) in which we see some characters watching television.

8.The ending of this film, which is like a return to the ending of LIGHT AND QUIET (2008, Rouzbeh Rashidi). We see lights of car moving during the night in both scenes, though in this film we see them closer and in a slow motion, as if in dream.

9.The appearing of the alphabet in the opening and ending credits.

10. What does this film mean? I don't know. But some parts of it remind me of some parts of poems I like very much. Unintentionally or not, this film makes me realize how beautiful, how heavenly many mundane things are. The sun, the wind, the light, the shadow, the trees, the grass, the dirty window, the reflection on a clear window, the clouds, the sprinkling of water, the curtain with the bright sunlight, the curtain with the dim sunlight—all these things are heavenly and sublime, and they are all around us everyday.

It is rare that a feature film pays attention to small things like this. Normally I find this kind of things in poems, not in films. This film is extremely poetic, and Rashidi is a real poet-filmmaker. So let me quote two poems that I like very much here, because some parts of this film remind me of some parts of these two poems.

The swaying of grass in minute 35 reminds me of this poem by Emily Dickinson:

"THE GRASS so little has to do,—
A sphere of simple green,
With only butterflies to brood,
And bees to entertain,

And stir all day to pretty tunes
The breezes fetch along,
And hold the sunshine in its lap
And bow to everything;

And thread the dews all night, like pearls,
And make itself so fine,—
A duchess were too common
For such a noticing.

And even when it dies, to pass
In odors so divine,
As lowly spices gone to sleep,
Or amulets of pine.

And then to dwell in sovereign barns,
And dream the days away,—
The grass so little has to do,
I wish I were a hay!"

Parts of this film remind me of this poem by Emily Dickinson:

"A SOMETHING in a summer’s day,
As slow her flambeaux burn away,
Which solemnizes me.

A something in a summer’s noon,—
An azure depth, a wordless tune,
Transcending ecstasy.

And still within a summer’s night
A something so transporting bright,
I clap my hands to see;

Then veil my too inspecting face,
Lest such a subtle, shimmering grace
Flutter too far for me.

The wizard-fingers never rest,
The purple brook within the breast
Still chafes its narrow bed;

Still rears the East her amber flag,
Guides still the sun along the crag
His caravan of red,

Like flowers that heard the tale of dews,
But never deemed the dripping prize
Awaited their low brows;

Or bees, that thought the summer’s name
Some rumor of delirium
No summer could for them;

Or Arctic creature, dimly stirred
By tropic hint,—some travelled bird
Imported to the wood;

Or wind’s bright signal to the ear,
Making that homely and severe,
Contented, known, before

The heaven unexpected came,
To lives that thought their worshipping
A too presumptuous psalm."

You can watch many short films by Rouzbeh Rashidi in his Vimeo channel:

1 comment:

celinejulie said...

Thanks to Rouzbeh Rashidi for his DVD. Thanks to Bill Mousoulis for letting us know about this great filmmaker via his article.