Will I find them or will I die trying?
After watching the film, I was completely baffled as to how the film was made considering its daunting six story lines and manages to maintain consistency both in presentation and content. More so on producing a daring duration: an almost three hour film. Not that a three hour film is rare, but for film aiming for mass public, it is. The way I see it, the film is a gamble. The story lines can either amaze the audience in its elegance or shun in its nonlinear storytelling, as the narrative jumps from year 1849 to 2321 and everything in between. I commend the directors (and it took three) in giving birth to this epic, and providing a profound, unique and engaging cinematic experience that is rarely present in today’s production.
Even though the six story line might give the impression of ambiguity, it is rarely so, as long as you keep your ingenuity together. It does not include too much vagueness that it would make it unwieldy to comprehend, but has enough to keep you uncomfortable, and makes you think. I bet a film that makes you think, a film that begs for attention is worth it.
At the start of this German film, it gives as a notice: “Ι believethat if you, dear reader, can extend your patience for just a moment, you will find there is a method to this tale of madness.” By madness it means to say (1) a good man tricked for his fortune (2) an talented musician limited by his mentor (3) a journalist hunted down for her duty (4) a senior held like a prisoner in a nursery home (5) a clone persecuted in her quest for humanity (6) a tribal leader armed to protect his tribe from cannibals. The method differs as for viewer, and for different method rest a different conclusion. As for me, I found that, by recognizing common elements in the film.
I know that people will say that it’s futile define a meaning to this film, because chances are nobody can attest for it. Unlike truth, meaning differs for everybody, it’s plural. With this in mind, I will give a stab for it. The film is about human civilization. It reminds me from the phrase of one of my favorite satirical films, God Bless America (2011). “How can we keep a civilization, if we no longer want to be civilized.” We see the various portrayal of cruelty, how one’s personal pursuit to self-gain and vanity leads to corruption and degradation of morality. However, no matter how recurring this is, there is always upheaval to definite humanity in the context of civilization. It includes breaking boundaries, and opening one-self to sacrifice or eternal damnation. I can cite certain scenes in the film to illustrate my point, but seeing we have about six, I dared not to.
In editing, what makes this film keeping up with the tension is the liberty of juxtaposition of events. It provides an extraordinary thrill that is readily at hand. For instance, take the scenes where the government finds the clone’s hideout and she tries to escape. This juxtaposes to the admission of a black man to a ship, but we know later on that the captain plans in shooting him at any moment. This gives the two layer of suspense, and it all contributes greatly to the moment, and it rises and rises. The former scene is first resolved. The clone is captured, and then we have this gut feeling that the black man is reaching its demise, considering what happened to the clone. This is another layer of suspense. Not that it’s new in editing, but seeing it more of often than usual save us from boredom and banality.
As usual, with its enormous budget, despite being an independent, never fails to give us worthy production. From sailing ships to utopian, they are detailed. I guess the praise that the film usually receives, and rightfully so, is its makeup. Of course, you’ll notice that actors are repeated in some storylines, but you wouldn’t have guessed readily that they have been repeated in almost storylines. The makeup is so effective, that you begin to wonder, together with the adept acting, if you’re really watching the same actor in a different storyline. Each of character perfectly inhibits their character. I know that all films nowadays do, but since the actors’ different portrayal juxtaposition is evident, you couldn’t help but praise the actors and the makeup artist for their trouble.
Another is the great thing is that the film doesn’t settle in one mood. At times, we are forced to think seriously, at times lightly; at times we need to open our hearts to witness love. The fact that the film plays these things well is damnably magnificent.