Blow-up, Michelangelo Antonioni’s Palme d’Or recipient, subverts one’s desires and expectations while undermining typical narrative conventions. In Blow-up, Antonioni presents a murder that is “caught” by the protagonist’s camera, one which never actually receives its expected resolution. This subversion is well-executed as the audience sees their anticipation wither and torment them as a group of mimes engage in imaginary tennis.
Similarly, in Antonioni’s 1960 film, L’Avventura, it begins with a person’s disappearance — one whose subsequent search is void of resolution. Instead, Antonioni chooses to focus on a character who is weak and trying to cope in extravagant society. Antonioni subverts expectation and tests the audience’s patience, as well as narrative standards, in both films.
But is this subversion just Antonioni teasing his audience, or does it carry a deeper and more complex significance? In fact, yes, it very much does. Antonioni describes his intention of narration in L’Avventura as him wanting to “achieve the suppression of outward physical action” in the interest of a “greater interior realism.” Meaning, he wants to show the world in a manner that is true to life and realism.
Dogs have sat alongside humankind for generations, acting both as guardians and best friends. It isn’t uncommon today to walk into a household and be greeted by a furry, four-legged creature. Dogs can be the center of attention at any house party, and you even see people walking down the street lose their minds upon a dog sighting. The idea that dogs are one of the most trustworthy creatures on Earth has been instilled into the minds of millions of people around the world. But what happens if this trust is broken? Imagine a world where dogs are alienated and have become public enemy number one. In this edition of “Fear Needs No Translation,” we dive into the dark fantasy of Hungarian director, Kornél Mundruczó, where he makes this nightmare a reality in his 2014 film, White God.
Kornél Mundruczó isn’t a stranger to the film industry, having a variety of acting and directing jobs, including films such as Delta (2008) and Johanna (2005). Mundruczó surpasses the artistry that is film; his craft has become an outlet for voicing his opinion on many social and political matters. With the help of acting rookie, Zsófia Psotta, White God has been recognized for its technical cinematography, artistic aesthetic, and issue-driven allegory.
In a not-so-distant future, the Hungarian government has created a tax on mongrel dogs that would nearly bankrupt any mutt owner. As a result, dog populations have skyrocketed in shelters, as well as strays in the street. Mundruczó’s White God follows the story of Lili and her dog, Hagen, as the two face the struggles of separation, abuse, and finding acceptance in the world. Having been forced to living on the streets by Dániel, Lili’s father, Hagen quickly learns his place in society. Gaining an obsession of saving her best friend, Lili soon realizes that the innocence of her world is a façade. Literally being thrown to the curb, Hagen and the other dogs of this ingenious film rise up as the newest form of terrorists. With all hope seemingly fading away, Lili must take a stand against the beast she once considered her friend to find the light in his soul. White God is a beautifully crafted movie, comprised of the spectacle of a melodrama, while incorporating elements of contemporary horror. A true spectacle, Mundruczó and his cast spin together a tale that will have your emotions toyed with from start to finish.
The supernatural has been a topic of interest since man has walked the earth. Life after death has piqued our ancestors’ interests, in attempts to gain some sort of closure for the inevitable end. Is there a sort of new life we gain upon crossing over to the other side, or do we simply rot in the ground as a forgotten body? Some believe there is no end of suffering — an eternal purgatory, doomed to haunt the halls which we once called home. In this week’s review on Fear Needs No Translation, the apparitions of the British Isles have returned to scare us once more in The Awakening.
Transitioning from television to the big screen in his 2011 film, British director and writer, Nick Murphy, has proven himself to be more than just a documentarian. Having experience in editing for the BBC newscast and directing a sizeable amount of television mini-series, Murphy previously demonstrated his cinematographic skill not only visually, but audibly as well. Utilizing expertly timed shots, accompanied by a soundtrack to enhance the fear, The Awakening chronicles a paranormal narrative that questions the morality of a post-war society ravaged by the ghosts of the past.
After the loss of her love due to World War I, Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall) has put all her time and energy into her work: debunking the mystical. Her writings, along with her assistance in many police cases, have made her a household name among the British public. When the death of a student at a boarding school for young boys turns into claims of a haunting, Professor Robert Mallory, played by Dominic West, turns to Cathcart as the institution’s only hope.
Demon, a Polish-Israeli film written and directed by Marcin Wrona, presents a haunting story centered around a young couple, Zanetta and Piotr (Agnieszka Zulewska and Itay Tyran respectively). Piotr’s an English-born groom just trying to fit in with his new Polish wife’s mildly xenophobic family. His attempts at speaking their language is rather awkward, but still, Piotr perseveres to become accepted in this new culture, including his insistence on moving into and renovating the rural home that the bride had inherited from her grandfather.
Piotr also plans to make a positive impression on his in-law’s by having a traditional Polish wedding reception (something the married couple never experienced because they previously only had a court wedding), which will also take place on the new property. But in the process, Piotr discovers a skeleton in the yard. From here, things progress rather expectedly.