Wednesday, June 14, 2017

EXIT (2016, David King, Australia, 27min, A+30)

EXIT (2016, David King, Australia, 27min, A+30)

1.EXIT is a really thought-provoking film for me. I have watched it four times and still don’t understand it. Hahaha. It’s like watching a film by Jean-Luc Godard or Alexander Kluge. Such films like these are beyond my understanding, but I like them very much, because this kind of films always give me many interesting ideas, and I think it doesn’t matter at all whether the directors intend to inspire those ideas in the viewers or not.  It can be compared like this: an ordinary film wants to give the messages A, B, C to the viewers, so the film tells them directly or a little bit indirectly, and most viewers may get the messages A, B, C at the end. But for a film by Godard or Kluge, the director may want to say the message A, B, C in the film, but directors like these want to make the viewers think, rather than passively listening or watching, so in the end some viewers might think about A, E, F, K, H, I, and some other viewers might think about B, M, N, O, P. And I always prefer the second group of films to the first group. The second group provoke us to think or allow us to think freely, and “being provoked to think” always bring me a great satisfaction.

As for EXIT, I think it provokes me to think about two things in general: what exactly happens in the film, and which ideas that I get from the film.

2.As for the question “what exactly happens in the film?”, I can’t answer it at all, but at least I get a lot of pleasure trying to understand it or decipher it. I’m not sure what Y is.  He seems to live in a paradise, a dream world, or  a perfect world created by cyberspace, but the paradise is interrupted from time to time by the nightmares, which come in form of a memory of riots, and the paradise is also interrupted by a message from his agent who tells Y to finish his writing quickly, and a message from his dead wife who tells him everything is a lie, and the only way to get to reality is to commit suicide. Y seeks help from a psychiatrist, but it leads nowhere. The dead wife also makes Y think about the riots, and the 100,000 people who were chosen to be sent to the outer space to escape this dying planet.  

In the end I’m not sure who Y is. Is he a guy who is too addicted to the cyberspace and loses all communications with real people and the reality? Is he one of the guys who were sent to the outer space? Is he an inmate in an asylum? Is he just a guy who faces existential crisis and is confronting with the demon inside himself who tells him to commit suicide? Or is he just a writer who writes about all these things?

There are also many interesting things in the film which I’m not sure what they really are. For example: what is the connection between the dance club scenes and other scenes in the story? What is the meaning of the scene in which Y finds many things lying on the grass and a teenage girl?

Somehow the complexity of this film reminds me of the complexity of films by Alain Robbe-Grillet, because in some films of Robbe-Grillet, we are not sure in which dimension or in which layer of the storytelling the protagonist lives in. But the difference is that while the complexity of Alain Robbe-Grillet’s films gives me so much fun and seems to be the main point of the film, the complexity of EXIT does not seem to be the main point of the film. It can be said like this: a film by Alain Robbe-Grillet is about the complexity of storytelling, but EXIT is a film about some existential ideas, and presents these ideas via complicated storytelling.

3.As for the question “which ideas do I get from the film?”, I think EXIT makes me think about many interesting things, though the director might not intend to say them at all.

3.1 At first EXIT makes me think about people who become too addicted to the cyberspace, the internet, Facebook, etc. But I guess the director does not intend to say this thing. I think about it just because some scenes in the film fit this topic. The film talks about the paradise, the nightmares which interrupt the paradise, the return to reality, and the lack of communication with the real world. But there are many other scenes in the film which do not correspond to this topic. So I think the film might intend to say something which is bigger than the addiction to the cyberspace. But if I focus only on a few scenes in the film, these scenes unintentionally make me think about how some people lose touch with reality, because they spend too much time on the internet and Facebook. The internet becomes a paradise for them. They can find what they like and spending all their time with it. They can keep away from things they find unpleasant on the internet, though these unpleasant things may interrupt their paradise from time to time. To exit from this problem is to unplug ourselves from the internet and start to connect with people in the real world again. This topic is a little bit similar to the one in UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD (1991, Wim Wenders).

3.2 The film also makes me think about some truths about life. Some people might live like Y in a way—living in a world of happiness or a paradise. And they can live like that by rejecting to think about real problems in our world, including social problems (the riots), and environmental problems (the dying planet). They must lie to themselves all the time that these problems are not worth thinking about. If they believe this lie, they can live in a kind of false paradise.

3.3 Most interestingly, EXIT makes me think about some existential/philosophical/religious problems: Are we living in a world of lie? What if the religions lie to us? Who can know for sure what will happen after we die? As for me, I was raised in a Buddhist culture. So I was told that after we die, we may go to heaven or hell and will be reborn again. But who can know for sure if these teachings are correct, or are truer than what other religions tell us. But if I discard these teachings, how can I find the truth by myself? Only by committing suicide, or dying by any other means will let me know the truth about the afterlife. So what the dead wife says in EXIT unintentionally makes me think about the demon inside ourselves—the demon who arouses us to doubt some religious teachings or urges us to commit suicide. And this demon is very powerful, because what the demon says is very logical in a way. I mean logic sometimes is the opposite of some religious teachings.

Then how can I find inner peace while still having doubts about the afterlife or about some religious teachings? Maybe I have to lie to myself in order to find inner peace. In Buddhist teaching, there is a concept of AJINTAI, or some topics which ordinary people shouldn’t think about, or else they will go insane. Ajintai consists of some topics which are not relevant here. But I have applied the concept of Ajintai to myself in order to keep my own sanity for many years. I have found that thinking about some topics too much can make me go insane, such as what is the birth of the universe? Where do we go after we die? How can we prove the truths in religious teachings?  Is committing suicide really a sin? Etc. So whenever I start thinking about these topics, I stop thinking about it, or else I will go insane. These topics are my own personal Ajintai. But I always like films which dare to venture into this kind of topics. And EXIT seems to be one of that, or at least it is a rare film which unintentionally provokes me to think about some of my own forbidden subjects.

4.If I have to screen EXIT with other films, I will choose to screen it together with REALTIME (1983, Hellmuth Costard, Jürgen Ebert, West Germany, 110min) and DREAMTRIPS (1999, Kal Ng, Hong Kong), because all these great films present a mesmerizing cyberworld, are very thought-provoking , and ask some existential questions. Most importantly, I don’t understand REALTIME and DREAMTRIPS at all, like EXIT. Hahaha

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