Friday, July 29, 2016

Les Spectateurs: a short Bradburyesque film

Les Spectateurs is a beautiful, Bradburyesque short film made by students at ArtFX in Montpelier, France. While the story is original, some of visuals and the mood of the film have strong echoes of Ray Bradbury - and Ray is listed among the acknowledgments at the end of the film.

The film is set on a "mega-satellite" orbiting Earth, but the satellite is soon to break away from Earth and make a new start. The inhabitants are given a last opportunity to return to Earth, before the breakaway takes place. We follow one couple, and especially one woman, who longs for Earth, but is unable leave.

The film is built upon a vast amount of CGI work, and this is fundamental to the story. Some of the CGI establishes the physical set-up of the satellite in relation to the Earth, Moon and Sun. But the more important CGI work creates the entire small town that the people live in, with their American-style suburbia. It's so well done that on first viewing you won't even realise that much of what you see is computer-generated.

So what of the Bradbury connection? Look for the visuals of the rocket ships heading back for Earth, and see if that doesn't remind you of The Martian Chronicles, especially the section of Bradbury's book when the atomic war has broken out back on Earth and there is a mad rush to return.

Look also for the melancholy tone of the relationship of the couple, and see if this doesn't remind you of any number of Bradbury shorts, from "The Rocket Man" or "The Last Night of the World". The film's subtitle is "saudade", which means "a feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia". You can't get more Bradbury than that. The film also has a good central metaphor (which I won't spoil) which has no direct connection to Bradbury that I can think of, but which made me think of Bradbury.

It's not a perfect film by any means. The woman's depressed state needs a bit more fleshing out (why doesn't she just get on the first available rocket and go?), and some of the technology is out of whack (wind turbines on a space station?) - but it's a short piece and there's lots about it to like.

Here's the film itself, and below it is a very breezy "making of" feature. This is amazing work for a team of students.

// ArtFX OFFICIEL // Les Spectateurs from ArtFX OFFICIEL on Vimeo.

// ArtFX OFFICIEL // Les Spectateurs MAKING-OF from ArtFX OFFICIEL on Vimeo.

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