Warning! The following short film contains graphic and disturbing depictions of death and suicide. Viewer Discretion is advised.
The short film Danse Macabre is simply, eloquently morbid. The short is a trip through death and while it is haunting, and makes me squeamish about it, this film captures so much beauty. It captures the human body in a way that it feels ethereal, delicate yet refined. It’s poetry in motion using the cinematic language to captures the process of death in a way my mere words would certainly fall short.
The film is directed by Pedro Pires, produced by the Centre Phi production company that also produced a Denis Villeneuve short I showcased in another shortcut post. Pires creative background seems to be more of infusing the spectacle of theater into film and his results are an odd blend of character study, wild subject matter, and finding poetics in abnormal drama. Pires feature length film, Triptych features a schizophrenic bookseller, singer/actress, and a German neurologist and is an adaptation of the stage play Lip Synch. It is definitely an interesting blend as Pires uses his abilities as a special effects artist and cinematographer to bring the art of the theatrical medium to the limitless possibilities of film.
The striking thing about Danse Macabre is its use of visual metaphor. The bathroom is used as an interesting indicator of the mental state of the person who we really don’t understand much about. There is a great gravitas to it, to show the transition from one bathroom to the wreckage of many mirrors gives a great indicator of the horrible mental state of this individual.
The camera work is really exceptional, it does create incredible moments of: still images to capture photographing the corpse, you have a nice dolly in to the furnace, you have great framing of the casket feeling greatly claustrophobic, and sometimes it is framed as very static to give a dreadful sense of lifelessness and dull emptiness.
There’s a great exploration of the paradoxical treatment of the dead, treated as precious artifact of life placed in an ornate casket visiting a scenic architectural beauty, and then discarded and forgotten the next minute.
It’s scary to thing of what happens after we’re gone for good, but life is precious and even in our ugly moments, even with our flaws, there is something beautiful in the life each of us are given.
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