Crumbs: Love survives at the end of civilisation
by Guglielmo Bettinardi
- Miguel Llansó uses our past to show us our future through a post-apocalyptic love story
A post-apocalyptic, surreal, science-fiction romance from Ethiopia is not something you come across every day. Ethiopian-based Spanish director Miguel Llansó has contributed to the progress of contemporary filmmaking with his first feature, Crumbs [+see also:
film profile], shown recently at the Brussels Film Festival. Set in an unspecified era after a “huge war”, which almost snuffed out mankind, Crumbs portrays a depopulated, semi-deserted world in which love and hope still struggle to survive. The film, set in the wasteland-like landscapes of Ethiopia, adopts an exotic and sometimes even surreal approach to what is fundamentally a touching love story.
The story revolves around the unique character of Birdy (Daniel Tadesse), who is first glimpsed running through a Martian desert-like landscape, clutching an artificial Christmas tree. Living in this bizarre post-apocalyptic world, he spends most of his time wooing his “love bird” Candy (Selam Tesfaye) and collecting the crumbs of a decaying civilisation, items such as record sleeves and toys, the valuable highlight of which is Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan merchandise.
Through his use of these Western cultural objects, the filmmaker is able to piece together remnants of a tragic existence on a post-apocalyptic planet Earth and construct an amusing way of reminiscing about the 21st century. Furthermore, he draws the audience’s attention to the obvious paradox of the Western cultural model, which instead of exporting its haute culture purposefully decides to export only its capitalistic shallowness.
A typical science-fiction element contributes to moving the narrative forward. A dormant spaceship, which has been hovering in the sky for decades, shows signs of reactivation, and Birdy, who believes he has extra-terrestrial origins, realises that this is his only chance to get back to where he came from. To make his wish come true, he has to undertake a perilous journey to the “Old City”, where he hopes to meet none other than Santa Claus, who will allow him to board the spaceship.
Crumbs is a highly visual experience, via the subconscious of Miguel Llansó, who shares with the audience his own idea of a post-apocalyptic world, in which the only signs of the previous civilisation are the titular crumbs. Despite its essentially experimental nature, it is remarkable to consider how much unexpected fun the film actually is.