30/10/2016

Swiss Army Man - Something I Just Need To Get Out

Quick Thoughts: Swiss Army Man

Hank, stranded on a desert island, about to kill himself, stumbles upon a corpse capable of getting him back home.


I've been waiting for ages to get my hands on this movie and... fuck yes! This is an inarticulably brilliant film. I won't go to the effort of spitting out adjectives and so on, but this is an absolutely great picture. There's a million more ways to say it, but, please, just trust me. It's absurd in the most perfect ways, using a surreal blend of psychological delusion and metaphors to convey the story of an individual that has broken down, abandoned society, lost grip on all ideas of humanity, self-worth and life, but, with the help of a revived corpse, manages to find a way back to them, to see his life in a new and glistening light. For this, I can say no more than this is a film I will be watching over and over; this kind of film is the reason why I love cinema. It's not perfect, the direction of action around the third act gets pretty choppy, but, there is just so much splendour and awe-inspiring... just... greatness in this film that it really doesn't matter that much.

This might be a film I come back to with a coherent Thoughts On: talk to delve deep into the narrative, to actually say something worth reading, but, for now, I just want to tell whoever reads this to find Swiss Army Man and watch it. Please, just do yourself that favour.





Previous post:

Repulsion - Metamorphic Cinema

Next post:

Witch's Cradle - Imagery

More from me:

amazon.com/author/danielslack

29/10/2016

Repulsion - Metamorphic Cinema

Thoughts On: Repulsion


Arguably, Polanski's greatest film.


Repulsion is a film that has great influence over me as a writer. The proof of the fact is in the previous screenplay-based-series where I also covered this film. (Links here). But, whilst I talked about the psychological distortion of Carole, essentially pulling apart the film's subtextual narrative for the Receptacle Series, here I want to pick up on the form of the story Polanski tells us. In doing such, I want to focus on the final image...


This image not only identifies Carole as a character struggling with a complex past, but transforms the film entirely. It's this image that speaks as something much more than a plot twist or a crucial revelation in the story. We see films transformed across a plethora of films with endings like these...

      

But, as mentioned, the ending to Repulsion isn't just a mere plot twist, it's not really comparable to many of the films above or those like them. The endings to Fight Club, The Sixth Sense, Dr. Caligari and  The Usual Suspects all change the physical spaces of their films. To clarify, once we know Tyler is a projection of The Narrator, we rewatch the film knowing that he talks to himself, that he sabotages his own operations. Once we know who Keyser Söze actually is in The Usual Suspects we look at the interactions of characters differently. The rest becomes obvious from this point. Plot twists are there to act like the punch line of a long and elaborate joke. Take for example this one (which I stole from here)...

Little April was not the best student in Sunday school. Usually she slept through the class. One day the teacher called on her while she was napping, "Tell me, April, who created the universe?" When April didn't stir, little Johnny, a boy seated in the chair behind her, took a pin and jabbed her in the rear. "GOD ALMIGHTY!" shouted April and the teacher said, "Very good" and April fell back asleep. A while later the teacher asked April, "Who is our Lord and Saviour," But, April didn't even stir from her slumber. Once again, Johnny came to the rescue and stuck her again. "JESUS CHRIST!" shouted April and the teacher said, "very good," and April fell back to sleep. Then the teacher asked April a third question. "What did Eve say to Adam after she had her twenty-third child?" And again, Johnny jabbed her with the pin. This time April jumped up and shouted, "IF YOU STICK THAT F*****G THING IN ME ONE MORE TIME, I'LL BREAK IT IN HALF AND STICK IT UP YOUR ARSE!" The Teacher fainted.

What we see here is a slow build to a heightened point. Essentially, we see the same comedic beat repeated three times, only emphasised. In other words, the same joke is told to us over and over and over - a girl is jabbed with a pin, inadvertently answering a teacher's question - but each version of the joke is better than the last. Films with plot twists aren't exactly like this in that they don't repeat themselves in form, but they are incredibly similar in the way they repeat the points they make. For example, all the hints of Keyser's identity throughout the film, or all the scenes with Crowe not knowing he's a ghost in The Sixth Sense, hint at the final reveal, the final point. This means we see both plot twist films and jokes as having very similar rhythms. The audience is emotionally or mentally warmed up before being hit with the final punchline, resulting in shock/laughter. For me, this is a huge distinguishing factor between the likes of Repulsion and the films mentioned. Whilst Repulsion has something you could call a twist ending, it doesn't adhere very strictly to this rhythm. Repulsion doesn't really want to lead you anywhere, it doesn't set up the reveal, neither does it make you feel like there has to be one. The final revelatory image is there not to spark an emotional reaction or the feeling of being duped, the final image is there to solidify the narrative. This concept combined with the next thus defines what kind of 'twist' Repulsion holds.

We've touched on the idea of physical spaces in The Usual Suspects and Fight Club being changed because of the ending. Things such as a film telling us a character was never there or that they weren't who they told us they were is a physical manipulation of space and thus tantamount to a magic trick played out before your face. We know a person with a 'magic pack of cards' is using sleight of hand to fool our eye though. The same thing happens as we're told Tyler was never there in Fight Club - there is a deception. However, there is a cheapness to this trick in cinema. As Méliès teaches us...


... magic on the big screen is astounding at first, but a trick worn tired very quickly. Physical manipulation on a screen is almost a cheat because of editing, because you have tangible control of the film. This is something a street magician doesn't have. A similar thing may be said of films such as Chinatown or Memento. There's a cheapness in being able to use sleight of hand on screen. For this, it's incredibly hard to find films with twist endings that work, that are worth rewatching. In fact, the distinguishing factor for the twist ending films that you watch once or twice for fun and those you watch over and over because they are simply great films is of the physical spaces we've been talking about. The best twist ending movies aren't episodes of Scooby Doo with a nice little unmasking in the end. The best twist ending movies change how you look at intangible things such as the meaning of the film and the relationship between characters. It's this added layer that brings the likes of Fight Club and Memento closer to Repulsion. The twist ending changes the way you look at the film not just in terms of the physical spaces, but the narratives and characters. But, whilst Memento holds commentary on the mind's biases, on its incapacity to deal with the trauma it causes and Fight Club says a lot about the individual's growth (more on that here) the films also strive toward an 'A-HAH' moment. This defines them as films with plot twists as well as narrative twists. We discussed the difference between narrative and plot in the previous post, but to recap, narratives hold plots (a specific sequence of things happening), but overlay artistic devices dependent on the medium - things like character arcs, metaphors, editing, camera movement. With Fight Club we are not only seeing the plot being twisted on its head by the physical space changing (Tyler not being there) but also the narrative being tuned on its elbow by the mental state of the Narrator being revealed as a means of commentating on the plot twist. In other words, the moment of the twist says more about the film overall than just the plot. And because there is much greater complexity in the narrative twist rather than the plot twist, we rewatch the films that have strong ones.

It's here where we come straight back to Repulsion. Repulsion holds one of the most poignant and effective narrative twists. More than this, Repulsion hasn't really got a plot twist - only a narrative one. This is what distinguishes it from the likes of Fight Club, Memento or The Sixth Sense. It focuses on changing the intangible aspects of the film, on imbuing the narrative with meaning, all whilst appealing to a very subtle version of a punchline-chasing format. This produces a complex, evolved kind of cinema that uses an idea of 'meaning' in an astounding way. Because it's my belief that the best films both entertain and have something to say, I'm often faced with a question of where the line is drawn. I love films with symbolism, subtext and metaphors. However, most people don't. For many, the existential themes of a Disney film don't come through - and even when they're explained, they don't count towards much. However, what Polanski teaches us through Repulsion is how to turn the pretentious, artsy side of a film into the entertaining factor. He takes the idea of a twist ending and all the emotive power it can hold, but directs its momentum towards explaining Carole's inner conflicts and the psychological horrors they hold. To me, this is what made my first viewing of this movie so poignant, so revelatory. It demonstrated how to emotionally play the audience as well as mentally challenge them. Moreover, Repulsion presents an artistic challenge. Through its last image, the film demonstrates that it's capable of explaining itself through pure cinema, without words and with one image. The succinctness of this flawed me, the fact that there is so much behind such a simple image made clear the complete control a writer/filmmaker can have over their narrative, not just on physical plot-based terms, but intangible ones too. When you watch the likes of Eraserhead you're left in awe. But, when you watch/read interviews with David Lynch on this film, you're often left somewhat dissatisfied. You see so much depth in his film, but get nothing from him - which can be frustrating. More than this, it can suggest to you that art and artist must remained undefined, that their meaning has to be down to your interpretation, that there was no true conscious drive towards saying something specific. This doesn't make films such as Eraserhead pure splatter paintings; there is a presentation in these movies of something ambiguous and because of this it doesn't always make sense for their meaning/narrative movement to be concrete. Nonetheless, there's something beautiful about a film that can be very artsy, but also conscious.

Film as an art form is in large part all about expression. This is because art is an emotional interaction between artist and audience. An artist feels a certain way and wants to share that with someone else via a medium. The medium between them is art - it is the grounds of communication. What we've just picked up on are two interpretations of this connective tunnel. With Eraserhead we see a leaning towards an idea that this channel between artist and audience mustn't be recognised, that, by leaving the means of communication to its own devices, we can be sure that it works best. In other words, it's because Eraserhead appeals so much towards your own opinions, biases, interpretations, that Lynch can say what he intends - even if that is something he refuses and or finds hard to articulate outside of the medium of film. But, whilst there is this kind of artists, this interpretation of artistic communication, there is an alternative. In films such as Repulsion, I see an artist who wants to be succinct and consciously articulate, I see an artist that means to be expressive, but also finds the fun, the joy, his/her reasoning for being an artist in having control over what they say. There is a complex beauty in this attempt towards conscious filmmaking, one that arises comparisons as cliched as those to Michelangelo's David or Da Vinci's Mona Lisa...

  

In both pieces we see the fruits of years of work - 3 for the statue of David and 4 for the Mona Lisa. This doesn't imply that art should take an awfully long time to create. The time is merely representative of a conscious effort to produce something great, is representative of a long and arduous struggle to control ones art, to present something intentional. With Repulsion's final image, the great depths it implies, I see a similar struggle to control art, to articulate with knowing precision the intention of your movie. This then brings us further away from narrative twists and devicive cinema and into a much more complex concept of filmic art, however, the basic principal still stands. Through The Sixth Sense, Fight Club, Dr. Caligari and The Usual Suspects, we see an attempt to tell great stories. And the key to telling stories is quite simple - it's change. A story is a sequence of things, it's a journey; it's a movement from A to B, from emotions B to C, from state L to H to X to V - whatever your story dictates. All stories imply some kind of change - even those caught by singular images. The reason why the pivotal picture in Repulsion, Da Vinci's Mona Lisa and Michelangelo's David, can be still items trapped in space without time is because there's an implimence in their being that suggest something beyond themselves. With David we see an idea of beauty, of human form, stature and presence. For this, the stature captivates. With the Mona Lisa, we see the character behind the face that tells something of a story, that begins to imply something more than a blank space. With Carole's childhood picture, we are seeing more than a sullen look, we are seeing her past in juxtaposition to her presence. In this idea, we see story, we see meaning, we see the attraction to art in the implimence of context - that banal imagery or physical presences are attached to something more than themselves, that through them we have stumbled upon a journey. What's most important is that through these windows to journeys we are finding stories, we are finding change through the said idea of context. In such, you can understand how Polanski identifies such a poignant image. He picks up on a crucial idea of change in Carole's life, he expresses how this was her years ago...


... but that this is her now...


What this does is build a story and an interest from the audience that invests them in seeing the film through, to allow their imagination to stretch beyond the physical confines that the art exists in and into the immaterial space it implies. In such we see the purpose of art to an audience as taking them on a journey, as implying some kind of movement from a here to there. Great art such as Repulsion not only takes the audience on the journey from the beauty salon with the spaced-out Carole to the sordid, festering apartment full of Carole's projected fears, but opens up the world of the story and character to the audience. This is what facilitates my writings on the film. I'm lead to discuss the inner workings of Carole's character, her past, the hidden subtext of the narrative by the implied grounds of the story that haven't been physically put to film. That means the journey, the story, given by the film isn't just a simple A to B tantamount to a singular level in a Mario game. This is what a lot of mediocre films are, they see art and story telling as a simplistic here to there, they express little more than a means to an end. What's pivotal is that no matter how flashy you make the film with good acting, great cinematography, a good colour pallet, you are only upping the quality of the graphics card, or at most making the level of the Mario game more difficult. The beauty and evolution of gaming towards open worlds then speaks perfectly to the analogy at hand. Repulsion doesn't have you hit the end of the level or walk into walls, transport back on track when you hit the water. Repulsion leaves the story and world it implies open for you to explore on a temporal and philosophical level. Whilst we can't physically see all inches of Carole's house, talk to her or the characters surrounding her, we can use the given information to understand something larger than that, that there is a two-way conversation between art and artist because the film contextualises itself in relation to ourselves by giving us a premise, by guiding us to see themes and ideas - but on our own terms.

In the end, it's Repulsion that speaks most clearly of what stories can be, of how we can use an idea such as art to articulate an entertaining journey of change, but also a succinct point to an audience. Its final image is then a tangible representation of how you can bring stories into that higher dream space and grip the mic by the stand in preparation for your speech.


To find out why Repulsion is apart of the Legacy Series, check out...


< Previous    post in the series    Next >




Previous post:


More from me:

28/10/2016

Meshes Of The Afternoon - Narrative And Perceptual Cinema

Thoughts On: Meshes Of The Afternoon

This is the first film that is part of the...


Maya Deren's quintessential experimental film.


Much like Un Chien Andalou, Eraserhead or The Holy Mountain, Meshes Of The Afternoon is a film meant to be left somewhat undefined. It holds a narrative, but no tangible plot - the semantic difference between plot and narrative being a palpable idea of a story moving forward; plots are defined as the things that happen in a movie, narratives the bigger, more convoluted, idea. For this reason Meshes Of The Afternoon is a film about ideas. Now, 'a film about ideas' is a pretty pretentious term you hear thrown about a lot, but, if defined, the term becomes easier to swallow. Meshes Of The Afternoon being a film about ideas simply means it hasn't got any true incidental movement to the narrative. We see this captured by the themes that stitch together the narrative. It's the recurring imagery of the key, knife, cloaked figure, flower and mirror that build up the 'story'. In this respect, the 'ideas' this film is about are, in other words, the themes. Thus, it makes more sense to say this is a purely thematic film, that it translates its ideas and story through symbolic imagery. We open on these ideas as they are the crux to understanding or seeing this film in the most coherent light. It's seeing Meshes of the Afternoon through themes and an idea of narrative that enables its presented philosophy of cinema to enunciate itself. However, whilst we've touched on the film in respect to theme, we haven't yet brought up narrative. This is a film usually given the label 'non-narrative'. This, to me, is a redundant, ill-defining term. Narrative means story, more specifically, narrative means a story made up of character, theme, plot, motif, metaphors and a plethora of other filmic devices. I think its important to make this distinction of what a narrative is over pot and the non-narrative because it says to both writer an audience how to judge a story. A story is quite simply a concept, its a very loose sequencing of events. You can tell the same story in a book, film, painting, song, dance, joke - anything. The same can almost be said for plot too. If a plot simply says John does A, B, C then D, then this can in all likelihood be presented in a book, on the stage, on the screen - wherever. But, because a narrative is more complicated then these two things it relies on devices and so the specific form of storytelling supporting it. To clarify, to tell the story of Romeo and Juliet through a poem you would purely rely on words, on verse, measures, beats, enjambment, similes, metaphors - all of the terms crammed into you by high school teachers. What the story of Romeo and Juliet looks like on a page in poetic form is an incredibly nuanced narrative. The romance, scope and emotion of the plot, characters and so on would be told to the reader in a completely different way than a film could manage.

What we're then picking up on with an idea of narrative is a concept of experience. Narrative defines, in large part, the experience of a story provided by the medium or form it's told in. As mentioned, a poem feels different than a film. Some people hate poetry. Reading Star Wars, Fight Club or Casablanca as a poem could kill them - but seen as a film, these stories could be the best thing they've ever heard/seen. This is all because films and poems use different devices. Whilst we have enjambment, stanzas and feet in poems, we have editing, scenes and pacing in films. These different mediums, however, use similar devices and such is made obvious with those like metaphors and themes. All story telling forms - dance, stand-up, painting, composing - use metaphors and themes. However, a metaphor in a book, let's take a cliched one, an ocean of emotions, would be translated as such. Depending on the context used this would mean one thing or another - someone is steeped in happiness, melancholia, maybe a mixture of emotions. However, the translation of the ocean of emotion on film would be a completely different thing. How would that been shown? Would you show a character's face, wrought with emotion, before inserting the image of an ocean? Would you use V.O? Would you superimpose? Would you a transition to a new setting with a huge body of water in the establishing shot after an emotional scene? There are many ways, through filmic language, that this metaphor may be translated. What is important however is that an audience views the metaphor in a completely different light than in a book. It's here that you could delve into the details of a metaphor, the difference between cinema and literature, but the main takeaway is simply that the viewing experiences are, forgive the metaphor, an ocean apart. What this point says to us is that you can take a story, a loose sequence of events, and turn it into a narrative once you apply an artistic medium. Narratives are thus the expression of a form for the large part. However, what happens to this when you bring in an idea such as 'non-narrative'? Frankly, we should be left flabbergasted, simply asking: what the hell does that mean? What does it mean for a film, book or poem to not have devices, to not tell a story via a medium? There's two answers to this. The first is simple: there is no such thing as non-narrative because people are inherently telling 'stories' by translating a sequence of things to an audience through a medium (such as film). These things could be events or ideas however ambiguous. I'm telling you a story right now believe it or not. I'm using a sequence of concepts from plots to narrative to themes as to build toward a point. And it's exactly that that we can suppose is the crux of this argument. Stories, just like narratives, have a point. And everything has a point when seen by someone - it's given or taken, nonetheless, a point is there.

But, whilst there is a good argument for 'non-narrative' not really being a thing, there is a justification for the term - it's quite simply that narrative and plot are so delicately intertwined. In fact, it could be argued that all the themes, metaphors and so on we've been discussing are the meat tethered to the backbone of a plot. In other words, narratives are made up of a plethora of devices, but is primarily the expression of plot. By taking away plot you may argue that narrative falls floppy...


... leaving it something alien, weird, purely thematic, a movie about ideas or... non-narrative. Because there are these two strong arguments for and against the concept of non-narrative, the only way to distinguish the outcome of the debate is to ask of the purpose of the term. What does non-narrative tell us? It tells an audience that they are going to see something experimental, weird, artsy or untraditional. But, from my perspective, having just easily thrown those four synonyms, the term is redundant - it says only what so many other terms can say. More than this, I see non-narrative as a distraction to anyone trying to analyse or understand a film. By understanding that allegedly non-narrative films have stories, have structure and a point, they stop being splatter paintings, empty rooms with flickering lights or signed urinals and become something no more than a few steps removed from Transformers, Paranormal Activity, heck, even reality TV. Whilst it sounds insulting to say that Meshes Of The Afternoon isn't too different from a Michael Bay picture, or pointlessly pretentious to suggest that a Michael Bay picture isn't too different from Meshes Of The Afternoon (whichever way around you want to see it) I see the comparison as a respectful nod to both the medium of film and the audience that consumes it. Meshes Of The Afternoon and Transformers are split apart simply only by the weighting of their narratives. Transformers isn't really very concerned with themes outside of bland, rather empty, statements of patriotism, heroism and morality. In the same respect, Meshes Of The Afternoon isn't really very concerned with robots punching each other in the face. Nonetheless, they are both communicating through narrative and through emotive art. It's exactly this that brings them together and demonstrates a respect for the art and audience - there is an attempt to say something worthwhile as well as show a good story. The reason why Meshes Of The Afternoon isn't comparatively (to simpler blockbusters) a splatter painting is then that it speaks their language and makes a point - never just asks a question. To clarify, a splatter painting, from my biased and rather uneducated perspective, asks more from its viewers than it gives, moreover, it doesn't say much to them. You could argue that splatter paintings are a commentary on form, on anarchy, on automation, on human creativity subconsciously flowing from us. But...


... does that really say as much to you? I think not. I see aesthetic, an artistic manipulation of colour to produce something somewhat captivating. This produces a form of art that is inarguably non-narrative - if we had to use the term. It stands only to capture the eye, its point being only to distract. This triggers one to see Transformers as more a splatter painting than Meshes Of The Afternoon. However, such a comparison would be empty. Transformers' main goal is to entertain, but added to this, it has to juggle character, choreography, editing, writing, themes - a myriad of other cinematic devices. Whilst the Transformer films don't juggle these devices too well, it sets itself apart from a splatter painting by trying. And the main distinguishing factor is that all Transformers films, whilst having a similar purpose, don't just look different, they have to say different things. Even if they don't do this, even if the plot is recycled film to film, that is something you can pick up on as a judgement or critique of the film. When it comes to splatter paintings, they have their point of being purely aesthetic, but no matter how many you produce, no matter how many different strokes you use, you cannot seriously argue they make different artistic points - something that is beyond criticism because of the unnecessary constraints of the medium/technique, something that is then quite clearly not the same calibre of art as a (good) film. A Transformers film can be about a coming-of-age, it can be about terrorism, it can be about betrayal, it can be about love. What can a splatter painting be about? That's a crucial question, one that can only be answered with the preemptive 'I feel'. You can say the painting above makes you feel humbled, aggressive, agitated or whatever, and thus say its about aggression, free flow or displacement. But, where does it says this on the painting? What squiggle, drizzle or drop spells that out? Point me out one, but then do me one favour: show me how that builds into a point, a succinct, intentional statement worth listening to.

It's that somewhat tangential meandering through Transformers and splatter paintings that brings us nicely back to Meshes Of The Afternoon. This film holds a narrative. It's in the themes, the succinct, though ambiguous, sequencing of images that a story is told. From the frames of this film comes a point not just on the medium of cinema (just like splatter paintings serve as commentary on the form of painting) but a point on human behaviour and our reality. It's this exact point that we're then going to discuss, and seeing it will tell us something not just of human perception, of circumstances and situations, but broaden an idea of what cinema can do.

Meshes Of The Afternoon is quite simply a film about perspective. What we experience is our protagonist's, The Woman's, reflection of self through her relationship. In short, it's The Man that is the Grim Reaper-esque figure with a mirror for a face. This is a point made clear with the image of his face in a circular mirror and later his reflection being smashed, the juxtaposition of images solidifying a link between himself and the cloaked figure. And by assuming The Woman and Man are in a relationship (boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, brother/sister, simply friends) we can understand why she thinks of him, why they live together and seek each other out. The purpose of The Man being represented largely by a mirror is to suggest that he is a reflecting agent. In other words, it's The Man that is making The Woman question herself: where she lives, why she is there. It's this simple assertion that makes clearer the meaning of the flower, the keys, the knives and the confusing representation of time. The flowers represent incentive. They are something The Woman picks up and The Man is drawn to. This could, if they aren't family, suggest something sexual as emphasised by the bed scene, or possibly something of beauty, or natural ownership. In other words, The Man wants something The Woman has - her body or something closely linked. This combined with the keys further emphasises the house as a feature of their relationship. It's her way to, or means of establishing, home, comfort, security. To keep the key is to have control - is to be able to keep Th Man out if she wants. However, under the theme of a relationship, a physical key is never going to be enough to keep someone out of your life, out of your thoughts and emotional make up. This is why the key transforms into a knife - a symbol of violence both towards herself (suicide) or him (murder). The key is then her way out of the relationship - allowing us to assume its not a good one. The use of time, of things repeating themselves, The Woman meeting figures of herself, seeing herself in the past, suggests further reflection. She sees simultaneously what could be the mistakes of her pasts as well as the coinciding emotions, thoughts, intentions. What this all says is that we see The Woman on a short journey. She chases the illusive figure - The Man in different form. She cannot find him and so retreats into the house. But, it is disrupted; the phone off the hook suggesting suspended communication, an open, but forever vacant line beyond the world she lives in. In the house she questions essentially what it means to her, what the relationship in this place means. This produces the layering of time and the physical paradoxes that emerge. These all coalesce into the actual Man walking in on The Woman to find her covered in seaweed as if she's been out at sea. A sea of emotion if you'll have it. Another interpretation could be that she drowned in the depths of the emotion, or of change, the tides of it. This all leaves her stricken by her revelation or introspection. She either decided she wants out of the house - the man seeing her drowned figure as a representation of the end of her as his, as owned by him. Or, this could imply she decided to end it all, maybe turn the knife on herself, wade into melancholy, depression, suppression - possibly stay with the man.

With the film briefly explained/outlined it becomes clear we have a film that is about a tragic story, a story imbued with hopelessness and a search for reprieve. (I wouldn't suggest that there aren't alternative interpretations of the film). However, we've seen these stories a million times over in a plethora of differing forms...

      

What transforms Meshes Of The Afternoon into its own being is the use of these themes to accentuate an idea of perspective. There is no real plot in this film because it aims to be ambiguous, it aims to imply an emotional sequence of events, not a spatial and literal one. This is what makes it an experimental film and an untraditional narrative. It expresses its story not through literal events, but perceived happenings. The fact that The Woman sees this contemplation of the relationship in the way she does speaks of her character, it says she doesn't know The Man too well, that she is many people both to him and herself. Through the images of the mirrors and multiple selves it's made clear that there is something of herself she sees in The Man, that she sees him as saying something about her, possibly something about her own weakness. All of this coalesces into a narrative that is meant to appeal to concepts - ideas of relations, trust, isolation, despair, unknowing - but all to speak of a character and for a character. This is then great cinema as it uses filmic devices in effective, expressive and intriguing ways. Not only does it tell us of something captivating through its imagery, but it allows us to experience them (the story) in an enthralling manner. It's the use of the soundtrack, the editing, the physicality of the handheld shots, the POV, the slow motion, that create an atmosphere that is quite simply entertaining - an enticing cinematic experience. And, as I've said many times, it's the appeal to elements of entertainment as well as more artistic commentary, or an attempt at putting across a point, that makes films great. It demonstrates a care for a movie in respect not just to the audience who endures/watches it, but also the audience subjected to what the film has to say. In other words, as a concept, this film looks good and sounds good, it is both something to experiencing, but also something that has a point to make, something to say.

The takeaway from this film is lastly a philosophy of cinema. Through Meshes Of The Afternoon we see an approach to narrative through character, we see an emphasis on images and filmic devices such as camera movement, the juxtaposition of images, visual metaphors and so on, to express an incredibly ambiguous story, one we have to fill the gaps in by using the provided themes as context. This approach or philosophy of cinema is highly technical, is at first glance a splatter painting, but from behind the chaotic brush strokes comes concise, detailed and irrefutably conscious marks of theme, character and great story telling.

To find out why Meshes Of The Afternoon is apart of The Legacy Series, check out...


< Previous     post in the series    Next >






Previous post:


Next post:


More from me:

26/10/2016

Fallen Legacy Part IV


For a mobile friendly version of this page please follow the link:


This is part 4 of 4. If you want to download and own this in full as an ebook, please follow the links...



The pricing on Smashwords is dependent on you. You may choose to download the ebook for free or pay otherwise.

For the previous part on the blog:


Comment below or tell me what you think at:



Let's finish...

FADE IN:

EXT. PLAINS - THE NEXT DAY

The fog has lifted. The forest and hill are visible. The ground sloth nowhere to be seen.

The Wolf still lies by Clara's side, watching her through sorrowful eyes.

She twitches, the Wolf stands and whines.

Clara takes a deep breath, opening her eyes. The Wolf nudges her to get up.

CLARA

Hey...

She tries to sit up but calls out in pain:

CLARA

My back!

The Wolf continues to nudge her, but Clara just brushes him away, pushing her face into the grass, red faced, teary eyed.

Lightly wining, the Wolf lies by her again. Clara rolls to her side, wrought with agony, locking eyes with the Wolf. As the pain subsides,

Silence...

To break it:

CLARA

It must have been about a few days ago that I was in my lab.

The Wolf inches closer, allowing Clara to brush her fingers through his fur.

CLARA

The world we have under us here, completely different. You wouldn't recognise it. It was made of stone, full of people, creatures like me. There were wolves, but small ones, just like there were cats, gorillas and birds.

(exhales a laugh)

Believe it or not, I used to own a dog, people used to own cats. I loved my dog... People, us humans, used to rule this planet. There was no fighting and running for survival. I guess we had done enough of that. Maybe we lost track, hadn't done enough. I guess that explains this.

She gestures at herself.

CLARA (CONT'D)

Shit... you know, it's just hit me: how little I've been thinking about the future. Is there survival here? What about the other people? When do their containers open? Thousands of years? Millennia?

(sighs)

... no, I can't. I don't want to...

They lie in silence a moment...

CLARA

I was a doctor.

She sniffs, wipes her nose. Groaning with pain, she lifts her legs to her chest, her back popping.

She sighs with relief, lying back, dilapidated.

CLARA

I had this patient, Julie Porters. She was ninety-six years old. Funny word, patient, I guess it describes what a doctor wants people to be... she came to me a week into the job, it seemed she was going to die of old age. Almost eight months she lasted, she died a few months shy of becoming not just ninety-seven, but also a great grandmother. Not that that means much at all, no one ever visited her, only promised to. She died of what must have ended up to be cancer.

She laughs weakly before trying to sit up again. Despite the pain she manages it.

CLARA (CONT'D)

I told myself I could cure cancer over again, never let it fight its way back into our bodies. Maybe this time it wouldn't be an accident... but, a pebble dropped in an ocean. Something went wrong, everything went dark, I remember opening my eyes once to yellow suits, but that was only brief. Then all of a sudden I could breath again, properly, I could dream, not just flicker in and out of darkness. I must have been in a coma of sorts. That brought me here... and I guess you know all about that... not that you were asking...

Clara leans forward and tries to stand, almost getting her feet under her, but falling.

CLARA

... fuck.

She lies helpless with the Wolf stood above her.

CLARA

I suppose you want to know me now, huh? Won't growl at me when I talk...

(sighs)

... I don't know why I want to yammer anyway...

The Wolf stares, vacant.

CLARA

Why you didn't you just eat me?

He slumps down again, still watching her make the strange noises.

CLARA

Was I not enough? Did I smell bad? Is this just fun for you?

She watches the Wolf a moment, looking over his wounded side.

CLARA

You had a younger one when I first saw you.

Clara studies the Wolf's eyes: dark blue, almost translucent.

CLARA

My sister sucked. My parents would always say that I may hate her now but will appreciate her when I'm older. My Dad said that until I was twenty-five.

Clara palms the back of her head, looks at her hand expecting blood, but there's nothing there. She scratches her scalp and then inspects her fingers again to find a few specks of dried blood.

She lies back, then stretches her legs toward the Wolf. Her foot just touches his side - he takes no notice.

CLARA

All I want to ask right now is, what's next? I lived by routine to escape... I don't know, calamity--but now... it's all up in the air. There's no chance of knowing.

She pokes the Wolf again. He looks down at her foot and then moves away. Clara laughs.

CLARA

What's really funny is that I can actually laugh. I'm surprised I haven't had some kind of break down. You've adapted to fight and feed yourself and so on whilst I've adapted to cope - emotionally nonetheless. In truth, I didn't think I'd wake up this morning, or any other. Last night I was sure that if I wasn't eaten or crushed, the food would do me in. But, this world seems to be forgiving. Here I sit, yet not long ago, I was in a coma, then...

(clicks her fingers)

... I'm awake. I'm breathing and the world is perfect. The only thing that seems to be wrong with it all is that everything within has the capacity to kill me. It makes me think that there is some reasoning behind all this. Maybe the world finally found a way to get rid of us. Humans that is.

Clara tries to get to her feet, this time she just about manages it. The Wolf stands with her. Clara leans against him and they start trudging.

CLARA (CONT'D)

Of course that sounds fanciful, maybe it was of our own doing or some inner workings or something? Again, fanciful, but it's easy to criticise what you're not sure of.

Clara looks off into the distance. They are headed around the forest and mountain, back the way they came.

CLARA

I bet you know what your purpose is. I always thought that all animals had everything figured out. That's why you never talked, schemed or did anything particularly human. Us humans must have been the least evolved of all, developing consciousness and perception to deal with life. I bet rocks have everything down to a tee. They know if there's a God, when the universe was created, what the meaning of life is, all the who, what, when, wheres and hows. People strive to figure it all out, put our labels on everything.

(pointing them out)

That's the sky, but there's also clouds, there's sun too, but it's also a star, then again the sun's just hot air, it's all just atoms... it goes on.

She looks at the sun for a second but then closes her eyes and looks down.

CLARA (CONT'D)

But... paint a picture, you've got a thousand words. That's what people liked to say, and... I suppose that's because life is ambiguous. Humans can perceive, but only what we're told - and so understand what's made obvious. Rocks. They know it all, look at them.

Groaning as she bends dow, she picks up a stone.

CLARA

He's got all the information in the world. He's got no futile struggle, this guy knows what's up, what's down... all the others. That means he can just live by the laws of this mess and not try and figure them out.

(drops the stone)

We needed Newton to understand that one. But, you? You just watched the stone fall. You have no question to ask, maybe it's because you've got the answer. People like--liked to talk about intelligence like it's a tangible thing, like it's quantifiable, observable, like it has substance. To be intelligent, you need to have the specifically right information. Little more. But, how can information be set up in hierarchy? The only way it could, would be to use emotion, judge the world by how it makes us feel.

(shakes her hand out in front of her)

Lucid dreaming, that's what this all is. There's no waking up though, no death. There's knowing you exist and then there's having your eyes closed.

Out of steam, Clara looks up at the sun again...

... but soon closes her eyes.

The Wolf copies.

Weakly, Clara pushes his shoulder and laughs. They continue through the plains, Clara yammering on at the Wolf.

EXT. PLAINS - DAY

The Wolf climbs up a tree just on the edge of the forest. Clara hangs back.

THUNK

Down drops a few water filled orbs attached to a branch.

EXT. PLAINS - LATER

The forest and hill are far back in the distance. Clara's on the Wolf's back again, carrying a branch over her shoulder and an orb on her lap.

The Wolf sniffs the air, slowing to a stop. As he circles, Clara drops the branch and orb.

She slides down after them, cautiously.

The ground begins to shift under her feet. She steps away from the subtle movement.

The Wolf puts his nose to the grass to sense it vibrating.

A deep rumbling below climbs upward.

Fog starts seeping through the ground. Clara looks down then all around...

... fog rises across the breadth of the plains.

The rumbling below intensifies.

The ground beneath Clara's receding footsteps starts to crumble--

SNICK

--a tail slicing through, slashing up into the air, Clara falling away in shock. She lands on her back, calling out in pain.

Hauling herself away from the rupture, she composes herself then looks back over her shoulder.

A light fog wisps over the plains, a field of jet black tails floating up from the shrouded ground like dead flowers.

Clara gapes in fear, the Wolf now stood over her, equally dumbstruck.

The tails draw down in a wave that billows away from the two into the haze ahead - the creatures apparently moving on.

As Clara stands the Wolf starts circling her, not knowing where to turn. He approaches a hole.

Sudden movement below scrapes toward the cavity, the Wolf jumps back and--

PFFFF

--thick fog swells.

The Wolf clambers toward Clara, lets her on his back. Scrambling aboard, she scans the fog around seeing no other signs of movement, the field of tails having withdrawn completely into the fog ahead.

The Wolf sprints through the thickening haze as it continues to seep through the ruptures around him, stalking him along the trembling ground.

A roar bursts just ahead.

The Wolf stops in his tracks. There's no obvious route to take, no obvious direction not to go, they're lost.

The Wolf isn't stopped for long though, the ground ahead gives as claws tear at the dirt.

He flees, but the ground sloth below is making its way up fast.

In a matter of seconds it's through:

Not a fully grown sloth, it's about the same size as the Wolf. At first glance it could be mistaken for a bear, its head absolutely massive and eyes so small they seem to be missing.

Overground, the sloth spots the Wolf through the fog and roars - its teeth serrated, razor sharp.

The Wolf looks back, seeing an outline disappear into the densening fog.

Before the outline is lost, it judders, pronouncing itself, the sloth giving chase. Clara spots the incoming silhouette, horrified.

On approach, the sloth runs like a cheetah, close to the ground, athletic, lightning quick - the huge mass shuddering with each stride as its paws dig into the dirt and propel it forward.

The Wolf pushes on faster but the sloth gains, charging with phenomenal momentum, so huge yet so quick--and not even light on its feet.

With the sloth no more than a few breaths away, the Wolf skids to a stop bucking Clara off his back to the side.

The sloth pounces, claws prised.

The Wolf rises, but is immediately locked into the grip of the sloth, its arms clamped around him as they roll into a twisted scramble.

The Wolf instantly bites down on the sloth's arm, but the sloth's teeth sink into the his neck. The Wolf jaws clamp down harder as he rips his head side to side. Yelping, the young sloth pulls away, letting the Wolf slip from its grip.

Clara staggers to her feet to see the Wolf struggling against the sloth, terrified again, stuck watching, waiting, hoping for him to win.

The sloth, now standing, grabs hold of the Wolf's head. It lifts him up off the ground, stands on its hind legs and...

BOOM

... pounds him back down to the ground.

The Wolf yelps on impact, completely helpless, trying to kick out of the sloth's grip.

The sloth picks the Wolf up by the head again, stands on its hind legs and...

BOOM

... slams him into the dirt.

Clara's rattled with intensifying dread as the sloth continues to bounce the Wolf's head off the floor...

BOOM

BOOM

BOOM

Suspended, held snout-to-snout with the sloth by his throat, the Wolf keeps kicking, trying to claw free.

The sloth's tail wraps around his body, battling to constrict, to immobilise, but the Wolf refuses to give in, snapping, kicking, writhing.

Roaring, the sloth raises the Wolf higher, stumbling forward...

BOOM

... hammering his body against the ground with blood-curdling, bone-shattering brute force.

Fatigued, losing a lot of blood from its arm, the sloth has to stop to take a breath.

Clara looks on at the Wolf's opening, his chance to escape, to attack.

He just lies limp...

The sloth stands on its hind legs, towering above him...

CLARA

Do something!

The Wolf snarls, propelling itself forward, catching the swung paw, immediately trying to tear it from its socket.

The sloth's pulled to the ground and pounced on, swinging its arms wildly, roaring, showering the Wolf in fog.

The Wolf and sloth are soon completely shrouded, Clara unable to see anything.

The malicious cacophony dies away.

Silence...

The Wolf yelps.

Muffled struggle rasps.

Clara looks on, fear pounding in her chest.

A roar breaks through the silence.

It's cut short.

A body hits the ground.

Silence...

Despair dawns upon Clara's stature. She waits in the stifled vacuum, unmoving...

Movement...

A silhouette unfolds, pushing through obscurity.

Struck with a dreaded quiver, Clara wheezes trepidation, but she doesn't run.

She steps forward.

The grass ahead withers, curling into dark mulch.

Clara squelches toward the pronouncing shadow, her dejection giving way to vacancy.

Without hope, without care, she lurches toward peril.

The silhouette judders, edging closer...

... closer...

... through the fog stumbles the Wolf.

Nearly collapsed of relief, Clara runs to him.

EXT. WATERHOLE - NIGHT

The Wolf and Clara emerge from the cloud of fog. The Wolf is only just standing, blood gushing from a crimson splinter running the length of his snout, Clara close to his side.

Still in light fog, she stumbles into the shallows of the waterhole.

The Wolf walks past her, submerging himself in the waters completely.

CLARA

What are you doing?

A few bubbles surface soon after the Wolf dips below.

Silence...

CLARA

Hey!

She wades in after him, panicked--

The Wolf resurfaces.

He clears his nose, again sending scarlet mist into the air, the surrounding waters dyed red, quickly clearing.

Waist deep in the clearing waters Clara watches, astounded as the Wolf swims in small circles, bobbing his head under the surface.

After a few laps, the Wolf trudges out, shakes himself dry and collapses to the floor.

Clara wades out and over to him. The Wolf's face is clean, blood has stopped gushing from it.

She sits by his side, stroking the Wolf's sopping and matted fur as he drifts off to sleep.

Resting her hand on his chest, she feels a normal heart rate, relief quashing disbelief.

EXT. SKY - SAME

The massive body of fog grows across the land.

EXT. SKY - MORNING

The fog has come to a rest. Clara and the Wolf lie right on its borders.

EXT. WATERHOLE

The Wolf and Clara sleep in the shadow of the immense wall of fog.

Clara wakes and puts her hand on the Wolf's chest again. He opes his eyes.

After a smile of reassurance, she sits up and gazes up at the wall of fog.

The Wolf stands and starts walking. Clara follows him onto the plains and away from the fog.

Catching up, she looks over him, checking the healing wounds, speechless.

EXT. PLAINS - DAY

The two walk toward the container field - the forest to the left of the hill and the grasslands to the right.

The Wolf starts to lag behind Clara a little, she stops, turning to him. The Wolf pants, his breathing hoarse.

Clara gestures for him to follow.

EXT. CONTAINER FIELD - LATER

Clara sits on a container, exhausted. The Wolf slumps nearby with a light whine.

CLARA

I know...

(sighs)

You must have known something. Where were we going?

The Wolf just stares through her exasperation.

Silence...

CLARA

Where were you taking me!? There must have been some kind of direction, you couldn't have just been wandering.

He rolls away.

CLARA

Fuck!

She covers her face, mumbling profanities through a lumped throat.

She breaks, let's go, sobbing to herself.

EXT. PLAINS

A herd of the bunnies lie decimated, not too distant from the contain field's hill.

EXT. CONTAINER FIELD - LATER

Clara sits, crying into her chest--

CLARA

Get up!

She stands, passing through the containers, unable to stop weeping.

The Wolf watches her go.

CLARA

... come on.

He lazily gets to his feet to follow.

EXT. PLAINS

Stood before the grasslands, the Wolf at her back, Clara waits, cheeks blushed red.

Silence...

CLARA

(beaten)

Why isn't it working...

She looks up to the sun, then out onto the plains, toward the looming wall of approaching fog.

CLARA

We should go back to the water. We shouldn't have left. We'll go around the--

The Wolf wanders past her and into the grass.

Abandoned, Clara doesn't move, just watches him leave.

She stares, adrift, back to the container field, hands clenched, knuckles cracking.

Silence...

She pushes into the grass after the Wolf.

EXT. GRASSLANDS

The Wolf's POV:

Grass gives way as he presses on.

CLARA (O.S)

Wait.

The sky above is shrouded and dismal, the lush greenery drenched in an overcast murk, the ground soft--

The Wolf stops.

A strand of white cord slithers across his path, lost quickly to the dense undergrowth.

He pursues, meandering after the receding cord, onto a path, toward a shallowed circle of grass marking a tangled burrow where the white cord disappears.

The Wolf approaches--

HISSSSS

The Wolf snarls, no fear, daring.

CUT TO:

Stifling silence.

The Wolf and his pup writhe, entangled in white cord.

CUT TO:

The cord snakes its way over a suited shoulder.

CUT TO:

Down a young girl's arm.

CUT TO:

Around a man's neck riddled with cuts.

CUT TO:

Around the neck of a girl, bruised, marked red.

CUT TO:

A straight-razor glissades across his neck, shaving away hairs.

CUT TO:

A red ribbon glides across her skin, tied into a bow.

CUT TO:

The straight razor slashes, blood spilling.

CUT TO:

The ribbon constricts, suffocating.

EXT. GRASSLANDS

The cord snakes maliciously.

CUT TO:

The Wolf's POV:

HISSSS

His guttural growl approaches the nest.

CLARA (O.S)

Hey!

CUT TO:

Clara clambers into the clearing, the Wolf snapping his attention to her.

HISSS

They stare at each other, unmoving.

ROOOOAAAAR

The ground starts to shake, fog rises through the grass in the distance.

Stuck on a beat of dumbfoundedness, they remain motionless...

Snapping to, Clara runs. The Wolf bolts after her.

The two dart through thick blades, leaving a cacophony of cries and yelps calling from the distance as they break toward the plains.

Giant sloths rise from below the grass, all bellowing, spraying the area with their fog.

CUT TO:

The nest. It's burrowed into a high-rising wall of grass, a twisted mesh of dead plant material, small bones, fur and feathers.

The grass above starts trembling. A violent struggle staggers forth, a clamour of roars and hisses. They burst through the wall:

A giant sloth the size of a three storey building lurching haphazardly, wrapped in a tubular coil.

It bites down on the fleshy rope around its arm, but over its shoulder snaps a head.

A snake. It bites into the sloth's face, a tooth piercing its small eyeball - it pops, oozing vitreous goop.

The sloth lets loose an excruciated roar with a burst of fog, hitting the ground.

The sloth rolls through the grass, trying to pry the snake off its face, ripping part of it off its chest.

The snake constricts, strapping the sloth's arm to its chest. With desperation and its last free arm, the sloth takes the snake by the head and starts yanking.

In a bloody struggle, the sloth gradually wrenches the snake's fangs from his flesh, blood spurting out of the socket, the sloth stumbling out of the grasslands and onto the plains.

The vice-like grip on the snake's neck keeps it from lunging--

KSSSSS

--but not from spitting into the sloth's face.

It bellows as the acidic venom sizzles in its eye socket.

Still with a clasp on the snake, the sloth squeezes, the snake's grip on its body loosening, allowing him to free his arm, catch the snapping jaws.

The sloth roars...

C-CRACK

... tearing the snake's head from its body and casting it away.

The snake falls from the sloth leaving it swaying, the venom killing it as it stands...

BOOM

... the sloth hits the floor, dead.

The snake's head rolls to a stop, eyes still darting, imbued with vindictive villainy...

BAM

The jaws hyper-extend, snapping toward us with a sudden and final spring.

EXT. SKY - SAME

Fog swells across the grasslands.

EXT. PLAINS

Everything lays dormant, engulfed in haze.

EXT. CONTAINER FIELD - LATER

The field is quiet, empty.

It stays so as the wall of fog consumes it.

EXT. FOREST - DAY

Clara and the Wolf weave their way through inordinately tall trees, trudging through the gloom cast by the smothering canopy.

Above, apes can be heard but not seen, they tear through the lower branches, screaming frantically.

Looking out into the forest, Clara would be able to see for miles if it weren't so dark. The area almost lies desolate, no shrubbery or lower lying plants, the forest more like a hall of columns that stretch endlessly and in all directions.

The two walk with caution, peering up to the glowing virescence.

From the darkness ahead emerges three gorillas - each gargantuan. They're spread out, scouting their territory. One spots the Wolf and Clara, calling the the others.

Ears pricked, hair stood on end, the Wolf turns side-on to the gorillas as to protect Clara.

The gorillas come together as they approach, growling, teeth bared, beating their chests.

The Wolf stands his ground, snarling.

From the darkness behind the approaching gorillas surges plumes of knee high fog. It covers the forest floor instantly.

The gorillas slow to a stop.

The ground starts to tremble.

The Wolf still hasn't backed down and the gorillas haven't lowered their defences.

Clara spots a nearby tree with low-lying branches, wrought with quivering trepidation.

The gorillas look to each other then to the Wolf.

He barks.

It's settled. The gorillas roar, barreling forward. The Wolf bares his teeth ready for a fight when...

BLAM

... a tail smashes through the ground and sends one of the gorillas flying into a tree...

CRACK

... left in a paralysed heap.

The two others are stopped their tracks, dumbfounded.

The Wolf backs toward a tree, shielding Clara between it and himself.

The ground near the gorillas gives way to a hole, fog billowing out of it, thickening the surrounding smog.

A roar rumbles from under ground.

Stood up straight, arms poised, muscles bulging, the gorillas bellow deep hoots, approaching the hole.

Smoke stops seeping.

The ground shifts and, quick as lightning, a sloth claws its way through.

The gorillas are on it before they even know what it is. They charge toward the sloth as it stands on its back legs, only just taller than them, throwing themselves against it.

One hits low, ramming its shoulder onto the sloth's stomach. Before its breath is snatched away, the second gorilla has his arms around it's head...

BOOM

... the sloth slams into the ground with terrible force, instantly hammered in the face with a furious flurry of fists.

The sloth's legs kick out, but the second gorilla catches a leg. It lies back on the sloth's stomach, grips the ankle and with both feet kicks the knee of the sloth...

SNAP

... bone cutting through skin, the sloth roaring in searing agony.

The gorilla hammer-fisting the sloth's face doesn't stop pounding, not when hit with plumes of smoke, not when the blood starts to splutter.

The second gorilla grabs a handful of skin from the sloth's side, pulling with the utmost ferocity...

RIIIP

... the sloth's underside stripped of flesh, revealing guts galore.

The Wolf turns away, taken aback by the mutilation.

The sloth's dead, but the gorillas aren't done.

The splintered skull is struck time and time again until it oozes brains - of which one gorilla grabs a handful of and throws against a tree - all whist its exposed organs are emptied from its the stomach.

The Wolf has stayed around too long, he retreats.

The ground starts to quake again....

C-CRACK

BOOOOM

... a tree falls in the distance.

All too aware of what's to come, the Wolf lifts Clara onto his back. He sprints through trees, away from the gorillas, only to meet a wall of fog - one that stretches above the screeching tree tops.

The Wolf turns, starting back toward the gorillas, following the stampede of apes above.

Approaching the gorillas again, a figure can be seen in the distance. The gorillas are first to realise. They begin bellowing out calls.

Another sloth, at least three times taller than the gorillas.

It unfurls a roar, blotting out the canopy with fog.

The gorillas stand to the challenge, hearing responses from approaching gorillas in the distant gloom.

Apes above begin tearing down the tree tops. They flock toward the gorillas, stood in wait before the sloth.

Dozens more gorillas hurtle toward the pack from all around.

Clara peeps over the Wolf's head at the mob of hundreds stood before the sloth, confident, brash and hollering.

A ground shaking roar silences everyone.

From behind the apes four more sloths emerge through the looming fog.

Clara and the Wolf retreat further away, sticking close to the mammoth tree trunks for cover.

Before the apes and gorillas know where to turn, three more roars cut through the moistened air.

Three more sloths come up behind the first.

All eight are many times bigger than even the largest gorilla. They close in on both sides of the primates, roaring in communication.

Simultaneously, all the sloths come down from their hind legs...

B-B-B-BOOOOOOM

... and charge.

The apes scream, the gorillas roar, they split and sprint head on with the sloths.

The first to meet a sloth are a few of the bigger apes - about five of them pour at its head. Two get caught in its jaws and snapped in two, the rest tear at its eyes and rip at its nostrils.

Before the nearest sloth can react a dozen more attack, branching off to the ones either side, all with teeth bared and thirsty for blood.

The apes ferociously tear up flesh like it's not even attached to bone, gnaw, bite, annihilate.

But, the sloths, with one swipe, can kill three apes - pummeling their skulls in hordes against tress or off the ground.

On the other side, apes pry a sloth's jaws open, ripping its tongue out, killing their first.

The slower gorillas catch up to the fight, using their raw power to shatter bone, dislocate joints and rupture organs.

The sloths meanwhile use their tails to keep the waves of apes from flanking.

A single tail snakes through rabbles of apes, curling around the necks of three gorillas, tensing...

SNAP

... popping three heads off of their shoulders, one landing on an ape's head, knocking him clean out before he's stomped on.

Another sloth has its tongue torn from its throat, spluttering blood everywhere - one gorilla nearly blinded by the stream.

He jumps for the sloth's neck, starts ripping hunks of flesh away, finds an artery, pulls it and showers in the blood.

The sloth goes down in a pool of crimson gore, an ape beating the corpse with its severed tongue.

Fighting off its hind legs, a sloth picks up apes, eviscerating them, ripping them apart with its claws.

With three sloths dead, ripped to pieces, the apes and gorillas are losing numbers rapidly.

The apes make calls up to the canopy.

Screams rain down from the fog, apes landing on sloths, instantly going to work.

Three apes work together to rip the skin off a sloth's back revealing the bones of its spine. A gorilla then clambers up the collapsing corpse, up its exposed rib cage, pulling discs away, hurling them at sloths across the way.

The sloth lies paralyzed on the floor, but its body doesn't go to waste. A larger sloth batters the gorilla off, takes the carcass by the tail and...

BOOOOOM

... pounds herds of apes with it, soon the only sloth left standing.

Four gorillas close in on it, but are drawn away by more approaching roars.

Five monstrous sloths charge to the fight, trampling apes to death--

BAM

--one slips on brains, going down, taking a few apes with it, but torn to tattered pieces in moments.

A sloth barrels into a gorilla stood in defiance before it, tearing its arm off, going for its leg, at the same time a second sloth gets the other leg with its tail...

C-CRACK

... the gorilla's ripped into two like a piece of paper.

Primate numbers dwindle - and that's when another roar bursts from the fog.

Three sloths stampede from the hazed wall and towards the fight.

Before one of them reach, two gorillas grab its front legs...

BOOM

... the sloth face-planting into the dirt, both of its legs pulled from its body instantly, one used to beat its brains out, the other thrown across the forest.

Yet another roar follows the emergence of another sloth.

This sloth isn't alone, but fleeing from a stampeding herd of Diplodocid.

Stumbling upon the savage fight some Diplodocid turn and run, but for many it's too late, they're already involved, pounced on by gorillas and sloth alike.

The torrent of escaping Diplodocid barrel toward Clara and the Wolf. They bolt, swerving around trees, dodging the thunderous footsteps that storm around them.

Cut off by a careening beast, the Wolf is driven towards stomping pistons and so scrambles to readjust, clipping a tree, skidding, losing Clara.

Unable to turn back, the Wolf scrambles through the storm.

Clara throws herself to the nearest tree, pressing herself against the trunk as the herd crash past.

The roar of the stampede thins into the cacophony of battle, the patter of the Wolf returning to Clara, as the Diplodocid pass into the walls of the encircling cloud of fog.

Unknowingly, the mob of primates fighting the sloth amongst the uncoordinated bumble, stomp and barge of the Diplodocid, are enclosed by a dome of fog.

The thunder of the escaped Diplodocid erupts with grievous bellows of torment as they're torn apart in the surrounding thick haze.

Everything is trapped.

The realisation hits Clara with the sounds of a new roar. From the whizz of fog, flees a lion followed by two leopards and six cats.

They are all backing away from a group of seven more gigantic sloth.

Clara scans for the tree with low branches and runs for it.

The Wolf barks after her, but soon has to focus on the sloth that approach.

With the lion, leopards and cats the Wolf backs away from the beasts.

Not one to back down, the Wolf is the first to charge. It pounces at the closest sloth easily two and a half times its size and rips away at its leg.

The lion follows, bounding onto the sloth as it rears onto its back legs, clawing its way up its body, sinking its fangs into neck.

Blood pours and the sloth falls...

BOOM

The six other sloth are instantly attacked by the leopard and cats, all dispersing towards the battling primates whilst the Wolf and lion tear the fallen sloth apart.

A retreating sloth stomps down on a cat's skull, but getting down on all fours was a mistake - instantly, another cat latches on to the jugular.

The leopards work together, scaling trees to pounce onto a sloth and rip at its back, pound on its head, sending blood flying.

The Wolf tries to attack a sloth's undercarriage when--

BAM

--he's knocked down by another sloth's tail. It towers on its hind legs, but--

BOOOOM

--a severed sloth head is hurled at it by a gorilla, the rabble of apes surging towards the new foes.

The Wolf lunges for the sloth's throat, crunching down before it hits the ground, the sloth drowning in its own blood seconds later.

Up the tree Clara looks down at the mess. Six sloths are still standing, there's a handful of gorillas, a few apes, a couple of cats, the leopard, lion and Wolf.

The ground below starts to tremor, the tree even more so.

Clara holds onto the tree trunk, the ground beneath it starting to give.

Seeing this, she begins to climbs down toward a non-lethal height to drop from--

C-CRACK

--the tree falls straight through the ground, Clara lost to the mushroom of dirt, dust and paraphernalia.

Trees start collapsing all around as the animals fight, the ground giving to more sloths that begin to overwhelm.

INT. SLOTH TUNNELS

The tree comes crashing through the ground, sinking into a vast tunnel, Clara thrown off on impact.

The tree doesn't fall into the hole completely - it's too tall.

Clara comes to her senses, seeing this.

She staggers to her feet, stood in the thick mesh of tree roots, with little more than a limp.

ROOOOOAAAR

A wall of cloud is sent hurtling toward Clara, the powerful gust contained and embellished by the closed walls, knocking her off her feet, to then blaze down the tunnel which twists and turns for miles, home to numerous burrowing sloth.

They all seem to live in these humid tunnels, entrenched in gloom, thick with smog, privy to light through few openings.

EXT. SKY

The plains, forest and grassland are nothing more than a vast ocean of billowing cloud.

INT. SLOTH TUNNELS - DAY

Clara, drenched, wipes her face, thrown from the tree, clear of its roots. She gets up, leaning against a wall, but...

BAM

... slips, slamming her face against the wall, hitting the ground with a wet squelch.

She looks down at herself, completely caked in black mud. Clara smells her blackened hand, reeling away with disgust.

Shaking off all the mud she can, Clara gets her feet under herself, carefully this time, and looks out at the sludgy mire.

Bewildered, she scrambles for the tree, the viscous mud sucking at her shoes, almost riveting her to the spot.

Fighting forward...

ROOOAAAAR

... another torrent of hot air and smog surges from behind, sending Clara off her feet and into the roots of the tree.

With no breath of pause, Clara clambers through the mesh, over the high-rising roots, up to the trunk.

Reaching the lower branches quickly, Clara begins to climb, placing her foot on the first branch, immediately slipping off.

She kicks her shoes off and starts pulling herself up.

Reaching higher branches, Clara's met by a disarray of snapped, twisted and broken branches, but also the roar, screech and whimper of violence above.

Rasped breaths pounding from her chest, Clara stays put, clearing the mud from her eyes, straining the sludge from her hair, choking on its stench.

She looks around herself, lost.

Silence...

CUT TO:

Darkness. Water trickles.

CUT TO:

Flames spit and crackle.

CUT TO:

Darkness. Steam sizzles.

CUT TO:

Gaping blue stretches deep into the distance...

CUT TO:

Fog clouds, obscuring.

CUT TO:

Fire rages, spitting torrents of black smoke.

CUT TO:

A mirror masked in water vapour clears...

CUT TO:

A single grain of sand falls...

TING

... hitting an ocean of silt.

CUT TO:

Clara's hand clenches into a fist, quivering...

P-P-POP

... knuckles cracking.

CUT TO:

A stick furiously scrapes along a blackened groove in a branch.

Clara drives the twig relentlessly, sat on a lower branch, dangled legs tense.

Embers start to build. Clara's face is lit with determination.

A dry bellow careens down the tunnel.

Stopped in her tracks, Clara listens to the approaching pound of footsteps.

A sliver of a shadow glides around the bend of the tunnel.

Without hesitation, Clara throws herself off the branch, down onto the mesh of roots and scrambles in the opposite direction of the advancing beast.

Its shadow continues to slide into the light of the ruptured tunnel, soon giving to a face, to piercing pebble-like eyes.

The sloth spots Clara crawling through the mire with every ounce of her desperation. It bellows again.

Tears streaming, Clara throws a glance backward, continuously propelling herself into greater depths of the black sludge.

The rattled branch Clara threw herself from stops quivering, the embers collected shaken away.

The sloth charges.

Clara screams, pushing into a viscous drowning pool, sinking into the sludge without control.

Sliding to a stop before the collapsed tree, the sloth still has its gazed locked on her, roaring in warning.

Fighting to stay afloat, Clara turns to the beast.

It sniffs the air, suddenly backing away.

Simultaneously, the ground around Clara gives.

She plummets.

Roaring, the sloth turns back down the tunnel and bolts.

INT. SLIP TUNNELS

Clara hits ground, drenched in mud, instantly fighting her way from oozing asphyxiation.

As she digs her way free, the muffled screams of a small creature are stifled then stopped.

Free from the heap, Clara tries to get her bearings, but the ground beneath her gives again.

She slips with the slurry, skidding through a network of soft tunnels--

Darkness.

--the light of the hole above is quickly lost, Clara plunged into unknowing horror.

INT. CAVERN

An immense burrow, flooded by light that stretches from pores above. Below these holes lies scraps of meat, hunks of flesh and bone around which dozens of curled up balls of mud-soaked fur lie.

The enormous room drips with humidity, the walls sweating away, the floor drenched, littered with small footsteps, inhabited by hundreds more balls of curled fur - baby sloth, all newborn.

Some are active, they bumble about, a few of the older ones burrowing into the soft walls, disappearing into the myriad of pre-cut tunnels that perforate the walls from floor to roof.

Something stirs around one of the lower tunnels. Newborn sloth scuttle away...

BAM

... just avoiding the surge of filthy slurry and Clara's tangled, beaten frame.

Sinking in the muddy pulp again, Clara clambers, quickly realising the den of newborn sloth - all the size of a large dogs.

Silence solidifies the inertia...

The woken sloth daren't move...

Clara looks around herself, coming across the drowned corpse in the pool of mud she came down with.

Her eyes gape, horrified.

ROOOOAAAAAR

Billows of thick fog gush into the cavern through the main entrance, the baby sloth screaming, all dashing for the smaller tunnels and the corners of the room.

Clara blindly crawls for an escape, finding a wall, feeling her way across it as she trudges for an opening.

The giant sloth comes barreling down the tunnel into the cavern, thundering into the haze.

It roars viciously, sniffing the air, quickly raining down on an empty corner, coming across nothing but the stiffened body of the dead baby.

It nuzzles its lifeless frame, whimpering--before catching a scent.

It bellows, pounding toward the closest outlet, hammering its paws into the wall, clawing away huge chunks of mud.

The walls above begin to crumble, giving, raining down on the petrified newborns.

The sloth ceases, roaring plumes of smog into the tunnel before hurtling out of the cavern.

INT. SLIP TUNNELS

Blinded by the fog Clara clambers, shook with overwhelming adrenaline, tearing through the tight tunnels, met by inclines, turns, shoots to climb.

The screech of scurrying newborns keeps her running, haphazard, fraught with bewilderment.

INT. SLOTH TUNNELS

Thin wisps of grey smoke curl from the mesh of roots. The embers from the branch above have ignited tiny flames that crawl down the wire.

Frail, they precariously squirm towards a glob of inky mud. It hits...

TSSSSS

... extinguished...

PFFF

... only for a second. The glob bursts into flames.

INT. SLIP TUNNELS

Clara sees light through the haze ahead, pushing forward with all she has left, slipping--

INT. SLIP TUNNELS

--flailing out of the cavity, sliding down the inky wall, slumped in the thick mire.

She stands, shaking the drenching mud off herself--

CLARA

No...

--clobbered by the sight of the tree. In disbelief she clambers for her escape.

ROOOOOOOAAAAR

The cacophonous storm of footsteps blare their approach.

Socks and shoes long gone, Clara trudges forward, feet squelching down, hands pushing, knees propelling, fighting against the relentless cling, the crippling resistance, of the sable swamp.

Heartbeats away from the tree, Clara's stopped in her tracks.

The monolithic sloth rounds the corner, ploughing toward the intruder.

Clara spins, coming off her feet, backing towards the growing blaze in the roots.

The smoke swells down the tunnel, reaching toward the sloth.

Struck by the dry heat, the sloth coughs, stumbles, skids, upheaving gallons of inky sludge, trying to roar, tumbling forward, barreling into the fire, screeching instantaneously.

Liquid conflagration explodes.

It soaks the walls, floor, roof, all of it catching ablaze, the thin veneer of brown mud baked by the inky fuel below.

The blaze twists down the tunnel in both directions, swirling into a torrential inferno.

Paralyzed, devastated by the sloth's fall, pounded into the sludge, Clara is consumed by fire.

>CUT TO BLACK

Darkness still...

A face pushes into focus.

A woman, Clara's MOTHER, stares ahead uncomfortably.

She stands on a stage, clad in a tight leopard print dress.

Next to her, Clara's Father, his ginger hair exploding away from his head, reducing his black tuxedo to a joke.

With his hand outstretched towards Clara's Mother's, his young features are wrought with embarrassment.

Clara's Sister, enveloped in a tight black dress, stands nearby, gaze drifted off to the side with disgust.

Her eyeline shoots spite toward a new face.

A man in his early thirties, DR. BEMMERS. His hand grips a shoulder, his face marked with serious concern, his other hand clutched by the cuff by a small girl - his DAUGHTER.

Terrified, hiding behind her dad for protection, the searing lights above wash her translucent.

Bemmers grips Clara's shoulder.

Stifled by a white dress, the snaking necklace that twists around her neck, she looks down with shame, holding a box.

She has just received a Nobel Prize.

An old man, a doctor of sorts, who just presented the prize, looks over his shoulder with reluctance, a hint of fear.

Standing with his back to the stage is a HUGE SECURITY GUARD. Arms folded across his chest, his calm presence looms.

Three SKINNY SECURITY GUARDS meanwhile run for an exit.

A crowd of hundreds fights to get onto the stage, a line of AGGRESSIVE SECURITY GUARDS struggling to keep them back.

The mob is made up of faces contorted with anger, mid-way through cursing and screaming.

Leading the crowd are a line of PHOTOGRAPHERS all with their cameras at the ready.

White light starts pouring from their flashers.

As the light crawls toward the stage, Clara stands, still frozen in place, eyes fixed on the floor.

Silence smothers the chaotic inertia...

Black hairs burst through Clara's skin.

A furious gust of wind bellows...

Blinding light consumes all...

WHITEWASH

FADE IN:

EXT. SKY

The land below still drowns in fog.

Red spots sprout from the haze, thinning the smog...

The fog slowly lifts. The fires die down.

INT. SLOTH TUNNELS

Everything sizzles, barren, crystallised and pitch.

EXT. FOREST - DAY

Hundreds of bodies lie dead: sloth, lion, ape, gorilla, cat, Diplodocid and leopard.

A bloody massacre abandoned by any survivors.

Sifting through the multitude of corpses, we find the Wolf, his neck broken and twisted backwards.

EXT. SKY

The forest canopy, a sea of green, leaves dancing in the breeze.

EXT. CONTAINER FIELD - DAY

Behind the worn window of an untouched container, rests a young face: Natalie.

>FADE TO BLACK

BEEP

The container gives, the lid swinging open.

END


Want more from The DSU? Stories are available on the blog or for download at:



A huge thanks for reading. Comment below or tell me what you think at:


Better still give the book a review at: