Friday, February 28, 2014
"Visitors" seem to be abductees, put into trances, rescued from a dying or obliterated Earth
Godfrey Reggio’s “Visitors”, which has been introduced to the public in a preview compiled by Stephen Soderbergh, is indeed rather simple in technical concept. The film comprises about 75 long takes, black-and-white, and dogme-style, in slow motion of various persons, objects, buildings, nature scenes, and scenery, even on the Moon, with a triple-time brooding score by Philip Glass. The comparison to Reggio’s “Koyaanisqatsi” (“Life out of Balance”) in 1982 is obvious, as it is also to perhaps Robert Fricke’s “Samsara” (Sept. 22, 2012).
The black-and-white Cinemascope (like “Hud”) is really effective here. We focus on the strange beauty around us, reduced to shades and tones we had never noticed, as in a scene in a Louisiana swamp where the white of the leaves along the water snarls us. We become changed merely by assimilating something like this.
But I do have to get to a theory about the “point”. The film opens with a take of a female gorilla from the Bronx Zoo. Soon we see a shot of the lunar surface, and then of some plain but hollow abandoned highrise buildings (I think it’s in Brooklyn), and then the people, first one at a time, and then ensemble. Despite the diversity (all races and ages and genders) there is a disturbing uniformity to their expression. Soon we see eye and facial movements, like being suppressed trying to speak. We see some odd finger exercises; maybe some of them were pianists. Later, in a particular ensemble scene, a little more individuality leaks out. We see one man with total alopecia (of his head), but then the camera lets us enjoy some robust physical attractiveness, for a moment.
All throughout, we are peppered with images of waste, particularly involving amusement parks (probably Coney Island, as well as the site of the 1964 World’s Fair hear Citi Field in Flushing, Queens). We see landfills, and abandoned factory spaces. Near the end, we see Earth (with a splash of blue) from the Moon, and then it is wiped out.
So I certainly have my theory. The “visitors” are abductees, taken to another world since ours is to be destroyed. They are not just the observers, they are also watched, like in a zoo or model space on “Twilight Zone”. Maybe there is a hint of “Planet of the Apes”. The visitors are, in my parlance, “The Proles”. The premise may be that of the NatGeo film “Evacuate Earth” (cf blog, Aug. 30, 2013). Several of my own novel manuscripts present the destruction of the world, rescue of the chosen by angels, and “amusement tents” for the masses, that in turn eventually fall into ruin. I have thought of all of this before.
The official site (Cinedigm) is here.
I saw this at the early evening show at Landmark E Street in Washington DC tonight, and I expected a sellout. Instead, the crowd was sparse, in the large auditorium #1. Don't confuse "Visitors" with "Visions" which is scheduled for release as a horror film in 2014.
Picture: lunar surface, Virginia Air and Space Museum in Hampton Second, Japan's maglev train. Third, my layout.