Review: The Island
- Anca Damian revisits the meeting of Robinson Crusoe and Friday in a lavish, political, symbolic and poetic animated work. A contemporary and timeless visual whirlwind
"I will teach you poetry." Of all the filmmakers making their way in the potentially very creative space of international animation, the Romanian Anca Damian is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable artists. We already knew this from her exciting animated documentaries (Crulic - The Path to Beyond [+see also:
interview: Anca Damian
film profile] and The Magic Mountain [+see also:
film profile]) and the wonderful Marona's Fantastic Tale [+see also:
film profile] (more accessible to younger viewers), but with her new opus, The Island [+see also:
film profile], presented in the Big Screen competition of the 50th IFFR, the director has totally unleashed the horses of her immense conceptual and visual imagination, shaping a dizzying and dazzling work for all audiences (with multiple levels of interpretation), musical, surrealist, ecological and humanist, assuming without compromise the singularity of her vision.
Weaving her lush plot around the well-known (and seemingly simple) story of Robinson Crusoe and Friday's misadventures, Anca Damian immediately turns the narrative upside down. Shipwrecked on his island, Robinson despairs of the madness of loneliness, chained to hungry dreams of consumerist opulence (from hypermarkets to cooking magazines) and to his computer tablet. But then Friday appears, a survivor among migrants sorted on the beach by soldiers separating the dead from the living. In this "twisted" world, which "doesn't go round," our two protagonists discover each other, beyond words, sharing their sensibilities and fragilities. Robinson teaches Friday to swim, but the Siren and her temptations are also lurking in the area.
Robinson then decides to set off in search of paradise, accompanied by his rediscovered mother (named Mary, cf. the film's Christian subtext) and by a pirate with two wooden legs (another offshoot of Daniel Defoe's legacy). Crossing the desert, the forest of radars (with the threat of Mother Great looking for them), arriving at the Tower of Babel where war is a feast, capture, revelation of the great family secrets, crossing a ring of fire to escape, camouflage, pyramid at sea and diving into the depths: Robinson's epic, phantasmagorical and symbolic journey to freedom echoes the much more realistic parallel odyssey of the migrant Friday (ocean crossing, "cannibal" smugglers, detention camp, etc.). Both are looking for their Promised Land and will only find it through reconciliation, peace, forgiveness, the acceptance of their double and of the power of Nature.
Inspired by Gellu Naum's play Insola and unfolding over a rich visual dimension conceived by the director and Gina Thorstensen, The Island is punctuated by songs, litanies, repetitive loops and a heady "gypsy" music, all elements that, added to the narrative profusion, can make one feel dizzy in an overwhelming sensory malstrom. But in reality, each part of the film is a treasure and the whole is a fabric made up of an infinite number of sophisticated threads that will take the film through the time of cinematic history without a hitch.
(Translated from French)
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