Saturday, 7 March 2009

In the City of Sylvia

So, I've been a bit too busy to do any blogging recently, which is a bit of a shame. Although I still don't have time to write anything too long, I wanted to just post some thoughts on the film In the City of Sylvia (which I blogged about here), as it finally opened in London this week.

As alluded to in the previous post, I had high hopes for this film, and I have to say that, upon reflection, I wasn't disappointed (although it didn't contain as many steadicam shots of people walking as I was hoping!!). In many ways, it's not an easy film. As a friend of mine rightly stated, it's as much an experimental work as it is anything else. In the conversation that followed the screening, Guerín talked about the film as an 'adventure of looking'. It's a film which deliberately suppresses narrative, drama and psychology, so it won't be to everyone's taste. However, by taking this approach, what Guerín has attempted to do is force the viewer into becoming a co-creator, or co-author, of the work. And he’s succeeded. He explained how he deliberately doesn't explain anything about the background of the main character, and never reveals his motivations, so that the audience can project their own ideas. It's like a beautiful canvas, or even perhaps even a mirror, where the spectator can project or recognise their own thoughts and characteristics.

First and foremost, though, the suppression of conventional trappings serves to foreground the look. Guerín spoke about the tyranny of the screenplay, and described them as the problem with cinema. Most writers that I know would disagree with him. But of course they would. A film as spellbinding and as mesmerising as In the City of Sylvia, however, offers strong support to Guerín's argument. Perhaps he's right. Perhaps it is time that we freed ourselves from the tyranny of the conventionally structured dramatic text, and all embarked on our own adventures of looking. Perhaps then we might all see something new, something fresh, and, most importantly of all, something that's actually worth seeing.

A new, UK trailer for the film has sprung up on YouTube. It's a good reflection of the film, and if you enjoy it I urge you to go and see In the City of Sylvia on the big screen before it's too late.

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