Monday 19 January 2015

Library (2013)

Director: Rose Brauner
This film was an official selection at the 10th annual International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Phoenix in 2014. Here's an index to my reviews of 2014 films.
As has been the case at a few recent International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festivals, the first sci-fi short in the first sci-fi short set in 2014 was an animation. I still remember the previous year's opener, Dry Gulch, with a great deal of pleasure, as that silent Mexican space western subdued a restless audience with a sense of gloriously organic design and sheer storytelling ability. Library, the thesis project of writer and director Rose Brauner at the California Institute of the Arts, is far too short and ephemeral to replicate that film's success, but it's a strong visual piece elevated immediately by a good use of colour and a vibrant score from Jason Guthrie. The text we see excerpted a couple of times during the film is the final passage from Dante's Inferno, as he leaves Hell and once more sees the 'beautiful things that Heaven bears'. This ties closely to the visuals as the film begins with the violent reds of Hell on Earth, a post-apocalyptic derelict library our setting, but soon transforms into the icy blues of a time after the flames have cooled.

The story, or what passes for one, follows the same theme. The use of this text doesn't merely highlight the transition, it also highlights text generally. This unexplained apocalypse has caused major damage to this library already but many books are safe until an odd looking Eastern magus performs a Shinto-esque kata to destroy them all. However, they become preserved in a rather bizarre way. Quite how and why I have no idea, because we have no context here whatsoever. Let's suffice it to say that this looks every bit as cool as it is internally inexplicable, but at least Brauner wove her creation with neatly thematic thread. This approach makes it highly enjoyable and visually grabbing, while the lack of dialogue enforces that it is above all else a visual piece, but the consistent lack of explanation, background or context means that it ends up like one of the pages of Dante it shows so prominently and then burns up into nothing, only to be seen again through the magic that is preservation of culture.

Library can be watched for free on Vimeo.

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