Memoriae Review: UFOs Above Our Heads, Skeletons Below Our Feet

Memoriae Review: UFOs Above Our Heads, Skeletons Below Our Feet

at the beginning of “Commemoration“, the first film that Thai Golden Palm winner Epichatpong Weerasethkul (“Uncle Boonami remembers his past life”) made not in his homeland, but in Colombia, with a huge bang that Jessica (Tilda Swinton) interrupted Awakened night. She later describes it as like a concrete ball falling into running water. But different, too, deep. With a metallic echo. The sound of youth trying to recreate the mysterious noise on a mixer The means of language seem to be of only limited use for Engineer Hernán (Juan Pablo Urego), able to understand what only Jessica can hear.

After awakening from her sleep, Jessica panics and wanders the dark halls of her apartment. The camera also passes through the same place – albeit in different ways – as if it had embodied itself, something different. Another shot, this time outside the city of Bogota: In a parking lot, the camera crawls very slowly to the level of the license plate until one alarm system goes off after another. Obviously something is creeping in here – something we can’t see, at most can feel; Something that can produce sound in the middle of the night, for those of us who can hear it.

Jessica (Tilda Swinton) wakes up one night to an unsettling noise.

In the beginning, “Memoria” has some horror movie or mystery thriller. But of course it is anything but a straightforward genre film. The traces blur, the levels merge into each other – and in the end the pure plot is no longer of any use, because what really happens is always within reach, which can be said beyond that. The film is very peculiar, but the noise is almost impossible to describe: “Memoria” is as brief as it exists, but with the linguistic tools at our disposal, we surround it as best we can.

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Not only is the great world cinema writer Epichatpong Weerasethkul a stranger in South America – he focuses on his deputy, art house icon Tilda Swinton (“The French Dispatch”), as a Scottish florist living in Colombia. . Once there she visits a large glass cabinet, a sort of climate-stable mini greenhouse for orchids to ward off fungus and pests. However, she cannot afford the expensive piece and walks away without achieving anything, proceeding through the lively streets of Bogotá into the woods – identifying the noise she should be supporting, but the search turns all reality. is just becoming more volatile and fragile.

the forest is alive

Hernan, the young sound engineer who had just arrived with him, may never have existed—and this strange bang, which repeatedly and shockingly ubiquitous urban background noise, apparently was noticed by none other than Jessica. . In the end it will wash the seeker out of the urban hustle and bustle into nature and into the forest – how it might otherwise be in a film by Epichatpong Veerasethkul, the filmmaker who knows how to stage the jungle as a great enigma. ,the forest is dark and silent“, Mathias Claudius once wrote in his “Abendlied” deep in the heart of the German soul. But at the same time he is far removed from the true nature of the forest and its colourful, untamed life. Veersethkul was originally filming this second There’s a living jungle in every one of his movies – in other words, an animated place where life is everywhere and we’re just somewhere in between. And much of what we call civilization is just poorly built and broken up on it. or keeps breaking.

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Following the signs, Jessica meets people in nature’s perceived loneliness who seem strangely familiar and yet completely foreign. Such an encounter leads Jessica to another Hernan (Elkin Diaz): a ghost? a rebirth? Who knows! In any case, he is an elderly monk who has never left his village. He can’t forget anything, he tells Jessica: every impression stays with him for the rest of his life – and so he decided to reduce the number of impressions he made. There are people who like hard drives and store everything indelibly. Unlike people like Jessica, who are like antennas and capture everything that blows in the air – perceptions, sensations, memories, even if they are not their own.

Jessica tries to get to the bottom of the noise with sound engineer Hernan (Juan Pablo Urego).

“Memoria” is more of an art installation than a narrative feature film, as can be read after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival – a comparison that never seems entirely out of thin air, as Veerasethakul is now home. But it is like the visual arts in cinema. Still, the comparison goes down the wrong track: Basically, “Memoria” is much more than a multi-layered work of sound art—and so is a film that, with all its twists of mysticism, is surprisingly grounded. happened.

Much of what is metaphysical or esoteric in Epichatpong’s work has its basis in a realism that leads to unexpectedly many resolutions in the final third of the film. It’s not that everything here is just vague and open. Explanations are within our grasp, but they don’t make us even more intelligible. Unknown objects fly overhead – and if you dig the ground, it reveals skeletons.

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Conclusion: The First International Production by Thai author Epichatpong Weerasethkul is a fascinating, multi-layered audiovisual work of art that takes us in the footsteps of Tilda Swinton through urban and rural Colombia – deep into history and at the very end, even that science fiction. A unique movie that you should definitely experience in the cinema only because of the invigorating sound design!

We saw “Memoria” in 14 films at the Berlin Film Festival Around the World.


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