El teatro de la desaparición (The Theatre of Disappearance)
A heady case of contemplative agony is the dominant feeling post-viewing. The Theatre of Disappearance is one of those films that leaves the viewer grappling with a very cerebral sense of surrealism, which typically leaves more questions than answers. With beautiful imagery and a magnetising score, the feature stands as a visual manifesto, suggesting an underlying sense of war that permeates the globe. However, the slow movement through the thinly connected scenes of action and lack of narration to give any emotional or practical context make for a more alienating experience, which ultimately leaves one more confused than enlightened.
The Theatre of Disappearance is a trilogy of moments on Earth. The titles of each section, which are “A War on Earth”, “Unknown Soldier”, and “The Most Beautiful Moment of War”, provide one of the only explicit insights into the possible message of an otherwise frustratingly ungraspable documentary. The film begins with a visual collage of handheld footage of industrial and gallery spaces from nondescript cities, followed by a cinematic exploration of a Moroccan pottery operation and, lastly, a scene from a village near the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea.
Director Adrián Villar Rojas certainly goes out on a limb and tries to create a sensation, a new movement even, by joining together otherwise seemingly unconnected moments. The film bears the distinct mark of Surrealism, using slow motion sequences, varying styles of cinematography, and exaggerated foley sounds to create a distorted yet recognisable reality. Despite some provocative images and visually beautiful moments, most notably in the Morocco scenes, there is a rambling quality to the progression of events. Had the titles not appeared at the end to give meaning to each sequence, it would be difficult to decipher the through-line of this film.
The Forum section of the Berlinale is dedicated to the most experimental, avant-garde works of the festival. The Theatre of Disappearance is definitely one for those cinephiles who love a good piece to really chew through. The enormity of the subject matter and the delicate way in which it is hinted at hinders the ability of this film to successfully communicate with audience members. The surrealness of it wanders too far into the nebulous to make any truly compelling points
El teatro de la desaparición (The Theatre of Disappearance) does not have a UK release date yet.
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