Night, Where Cinema Begins

in 42nd Rotterdam International Film Festival

by Nam Da-Eun

What is the cinematic experience? It might seem to be an absurd question to ask at a time when the term ‘cinematic experience’ is used as a synonym for the visual pleasure of 3D images, sensational stories, or entertainments that are worthy of ticket prices. In fact, it is no surprise that the cinematic experience is not considered ‘cinematically’ while film is accepted more and more as the mere messenger of a story or a server of amusement. The saddest part is that both moviegoers and films are not even trying to regain a sense of cinematic experience for they do not really know what they are losing or missing while their nerves are teased by trifling stimulations.

In such a miserable reality, it is very fortunate for us to experience a film such as Night (Noche) by Leonardo Brzezicki, an artist who must be eager to explore how far cinema can expand its field and what cinema is capable of not in the context of money but of cinema itself. In the early part of the film, we are perplexed by bizarre images of landscape, mysterious sounds of nature and especially the ambiguous voiceover narration that we have no clue from where and whom it comes, and we attempt to gather the components of the film to make out one lucid storyline. It is not difficult to get a basic idea that a guy named Miguel, madly fascinated with recording all kinds of sounds, has committed suicide at the farm, and his friends are now staying there listening to Miguel’s recordings on loud speakers. However, we soon realize that this storyline is the least important part in understanding the world of Night. Shots of Night are not there to explain the story but to show how each element of cinema acts and interacts to arouse cinematic inspiration. These shots were built to reach and move our senses, not our perception.

The most amazing achievement of this film comes from the moment when different materials and meanings of elements are clashing and making harmony simultaneously. In the world of Night, the boundaries dividing light and shadow, sound and image, silence and noise, voice and action, desire and love, wildness and humanity, past and future, and finally life and death become vague, and one does not function to support the other. Instead, each of them gets the same cinematic status and floats with its own rhythm as well as illuminates the others. For there is no hierarchy of meanings, and everything is equally vivid; sometimes it feels like we are in the middle of a strange nightmare or weird illusion. These dreamlike moments are so gloomy and somewhat sad, arcane and beautiful that we would not want to unthread them.

This film is a magical example of cinema that finds its own way to embrace the world not relying on words or a story but trying to be more like music by creating multiple layers of rhythm in its body. If the cinematic experience is to awaken and give power back to beings and atmosphere that used to be invisible and unheard or trivial and abandoned in our reality, we have no reason to hesitate to say ‘Night is cinema!’.

Edited by Carmen Gray