Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Spark of Being (2010)

Hypnotic Pictures
Directed by Bill Morrison
My rating: 2 stars out of 4
(DVD, Icarus Films)

Bill Morrison culls together old film footage and attempts to form a new narrative based on the original Frankenstein novel by Mary Shelley. It opens, like the novel, on an ice-bound ship in the Antarctic, where the crew finds a man in the frozen water and tries to revive him. It turns out to be none other than Victor Frankenstein, in pursuit of the shadowy figure of a monster he created. He recounts his days as a doctor, providing an opportunity for hypnotic footage of microscopic imagery. The story of the monster, though, gets a little murky. I can barely remember seeing him at all. Then we are back in the Arctic, watching the icebergs. There are three elements at work in the film: the narrative, the old film footage, and the soundtrack. Unfortunately, they seem to contradict each other rather than complement. The soundtrack is upbeat and jazzy, not what you want for this story. The old footage seems to be forced to fit the narrative of the novel, it might have worked better the other way around. Nonetheless, Morrison is able to occasionally stumble on some interesting moments, like the loop of the German dancers, or the decaying imagery of butterflies.

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