There are a lot of buried secrets in Burial – themes of hidden truths and the facts of history. Questions surround the quote “history is written by the victors”, as a former Russian soldier recalls her experience delivering the decaying remains of Hitler back to Stalin. The core of the story is heavily reflected in the cinematographic and production choices. Lighting and shadows are the main driving force of the visuals.
In general, there’s an abundance of dark scenes that obscure faces, symbolic of all the secrets kept. This is also evidenced in the settings – campfires, secluded houses and deep in the forest under the cover of trees. There is absolutely no light in these soldiers’ lives, foreshadowing their future demise. A widescreen ratio gives a bigger scope to the state of the world post-war, and provides perspective for the long back-and-forth journey with the crate. A lot of the establishing shots focus on nature, referencing the fact that, despite the vastness of history, there are still things unknown.
Audio outside of the frame is a common technique used throughout this feature. It’s present in phone calls that don’t show the other speaker, and conversations of characters offscreen. There are also reactions to things that the audience can’t see. The mix of these aspects furthers the idea of an impaired view of history and what remains unknown. The script and production are very straightforward in the angle they tell the story from, with scenes of men belittling women, and women standing up and empathising with each other, referring to German soldiers and men as “wolves”.
Using smoke, there’s a touch of the supernatural in the hallucinations the soldiers endure. This mixes with the gory reality of actual shootouts and wounds, blurring the line between reality and the drug-induced illusions of the characters. However, the rest of the action shots look amateurish, with clunky transitions, staggering frames and messy cuts between the angles and cameras used. Because of how slow-going these scenes can sometimes be, the result struggles to match intensity of the stakes. It says a lot that the dream sequences look more intricate than the actual battles taking place.
Burial is released digitally on demand on 26th September 2022.
Watch the trailer for Burial here: