The Antenna (Bina)
4th October 2019 8.50pm at Vue West End
Tapping precisely and unceasingly into our collective fears in the age of information, Orçun Behram brings us The Antenna – a metaphorical foray into the current state of affairs in his native Turkey. The first-time writer-director takes us on a technology-infested horror trip that’s a little long and a little to the point.
We trace a day in the life of Mehmet (Ihsan Önal), an apartment building’s superintendent. On the way to work, expansive wide shots show the man isolated in the modern wasteland. The cool palette underscores his station in life among the huge piles of dusty rubble lining the streets. Behram makes it immediately clear that this will not be a journey from bliss to mayhem, but merely from bad to worse. However, today there will be a new midnight bulletin. The state-wide broadcast will be the first of its kind. Its intentions are clear: to render the state uniform. A necessary result of becoming a unified body is that it must eliminate those who do not conform.
The stylistic question was how to represent the omnipresent and overpowering state closing in on the domestic life of its citizens. Behram chooses a black sludge-like substance to ooze its way into every crack and crevice. It seems to be emanating from the newly installed satellite antennae. Whether we have installed the information machine into our lives willingly or not, we will suffer the consequences. The visceral imagery is initially powerful, but the endless supply of sludge loses its magnitude as the half-fledged rules about what happens when you touch it mutate. Likewise, at first Behram’s constant use of extreme close-up creates an eerie mood, homing in on the precision of the technological invasion. Yet as close-ups are repeatedly used, they feel like a crutch the director knows will irk his viewers.
The sound and set design grow frustrating as their finite bag of tricks is recycled throughout the long day. The movie echoes with glitches and twitches which provide the horror soundtrack. And, needless to say, by the film’s end sludge is everywhere. One closing sequence provides some fresh imagery, as Mehmet descends into a contemporary(ish) museum-looking nightmare where stacks of televisions stream the suffering of the building’s residents. In the sensory deprivation of our times, we can watch the torture of others but are powerless to stop it.
The Antenna is at once an obvious and a difficult film. Its plot wanders in and out of focus as it violently subjects each apartment towards a life of conformity or elimination.
The Antenna (Bina) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for The Antenna (Bina) here: