Susan Omand gets excited about an old Ferris wheel as she watched the short film Graffiti from Lluis Quilez...
It took one picture, that one image at the top of this article, for me to decide that I wanted to watch this film, even before I knew, or had read, anything else about it. Seeing that abandoned Ferris wheel made my inner nerd jump up and down – somebody had got permission to film a post apocalyptic story in one of the only REAL post-apocalyptic places on the planet! Because this is Pripyat in the Ukraine. If the name means nothing to you, please, please read up on your recent world history. Pripyat was at the epicentre of the nuclear disaster that rocked the 1980’s when, on April 26th 1986, the overheating and explosion of reactor number 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant released 500 times more radioactive radiation than the atomic bomb that landed on Hiroshima in 1945. The city of Pripyat was so heavily affected by the radiation cloud that it had to be evacuated. Permanently. And left it to the rats and the radiation to decay forever... wow.
Anyway, back to the plot. Once my excitement had died down, I read the synopsis.
Years after an apocalyptic “incident” destroys life as we know it, Edgar lives alone… the sole survivor in an abandoned city surrounded by destruction. He exists day-to-day, tagging walls while carefully avoiding the contaminated areas left behind. With little hope remaining, his routine is shaken by the discovery of graffiti revealing the presence of another human. As the two exchange sprayed out messages, Edgar is faced with the decision of what is ultimately worth living for.
This film is every bit as beautiful, as moving, as fulfilling and as utterly desolate and devastating as I needed it to be. There was minimal dialogue because there was only the dog, KO, for Edgar to interact with vocally but that doesn’t mean the story wasn’t told. The actor who played Edgar really stepped up to the mark and gave his all. The amount of pure emotion he could convey just by facial expression was astounding. From the monotonous grey drudge of his daily existence, as he forces himself to keep going and find something to live for, to the shock, fear and then joy of discovering the presence of another person, his eyes, face and demeanour just completely lit up while never overplaying any emotion – it was a masterclass to watch. The spectacular location, for me, worked incredibly well, as the actual history lent a keen sense of realism to the situation and the direction and camera-work was spot on, getting the most out of every shot.
But this film, as I said, told a story and told it in an unforgettable way or, rather, it inferred it as there are so many questions left unanswered, so many things never quite explained and it’s so much the better for that. It’s the kind of story that lets you make what you will out of it. Nothing is spoonfed, you don’t get the writer’s version or the director’s version, you get your own version, built on your own theories and everyone’s interpretation will be different.
This 30 minute short film fuelled me intellectually and it charged me emotionally. This is the kind of cinema that we need to see more of.
Image - London Flair