Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Back in the 60s, there was a genre called the ‘Head Film,’ which de-emphasized traditional narrative in favor of stream of consciousness, visual based immersion in a psychological place. Imagination falls squarely in that genre, recalling strange masterpieces like Head and The Holy Mountain. It’s a film with astounding visuals and a wonderful sense of psychological immersion. You go into this film and you enter a world, one that can move seamlessly from live action to stop motion to drawings, all filled with strange and wonderful imagery.

The movie centers around two twins who are afflicted with Asperger’s and blindness respectively. Together, they form a strange bond and go on a strange odyssey over the course of the film. It’s a folly to talk about plot in traditional terms with a film like this, and that’s something I love. I’ve been going on here about how films need to move away from traditional narrative and embrace the new mission of immersing you in a world. The scenes that don’t work in the film are the ones that exist in a ‘real world’ narrative space. The doctor’s freakout when the twins are missing is the scene that jumps out for me as not working, it replaces the hazy dreamscape of the rest of the film for a moment that feels false, largely due to acting that just doesn’t quite make it. That’s a scene that needed another take.

But, most of the film doesn’t rely on dialogue to convey the story, it uses visuals to replicate the twins’ mental landscape. This is a film filled with stunning imagery, from a cool snowy forest stop motion interlude to a fun human stop motion sequence with the twins. The imagery I liked most focused on the womb, and much of the film seems to follow the twins’ journey back to the place before birth. The imagery is trippy, but resonant. It seems to touch on something deeply human and real within all of us.

At a relatively short one hour running time, the film doesn’t have to be about anything more than just taking us to this strange place, sending us on a visual journey and then getting out. I can imagine a lot of people complaining that the film is just a bunch of visual wankery with no ‘point.’ We’ve been trained to view narrative as the be all and end all of cinema, but that’s not the case. This movie throws back to a time when Jodorowsky and others could make movies that were just weird and trippy for their own purposes.

Along with that, a lot of people would probably say this is a movie you need to see high to enjoy. I think that’s an insulting attitude when considering the capabilities of the human brain. What we consider normal in film, or in life in general, is all a social construct. What makes a rap song any more normal than an avant garde record of someone screaming? Our expectations, and social structures that dictate what normal is. People have trouble engaging with movies like this, and they feel like they need to be in an altered state to ‘get’ it.

After one viewing, I couldn’t say exactly what the movie was about, but I can say that I loved what I saw, and I felt like the journey of the film was complete when it ended. You could do a deep analysis and find acres of meaning in the film’s various images, or you could just glide the surface and find meaning only in the aesthetic power of the images themselves. Either way, the movie is a great, unique experience, and I’d highly recommend it.

The Official Site

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