Tuesday, January 28, 2014


I rarely feel like reviewing art films because I usually feel that great compromises have been made. After all, films engage enormous budgets and countless people. Often enough, directors have to give in to financial concerns, i.e. how much is the film going to draw in. Blockbusters use up a lot of money but usually make at least two or three times as much. Though we are artists ourselves, we also find most arty films pretty pretentious and contrived. Directing such an enormous project and making it work as a whole - well, that must be hard!

I really want to draw attention to a film called "Womb", though. For its UK release in 2012 it was renamed "Clone". This is the most artful and compelling film we've seen in years, and in our mind it's not pretentious. It's such a shame the marketing was so rubbish in the UK. We might not have even seen it if we'd just gone by the cover. You are lead to expect a typical Sci-Fi movie - that's judging by the change of name (Clone from the original Womb) and the tacky, banal green poster, but the film is anything but. This of course allures the wrong people to watch it - well, what was the point of that exercise, eh? I guess we are lucky to have it here at all.

Frankly this cover is shocking!!

You really should be prepared for real art (and I don't say this lightly). I wish I had, I would have paid much more attention from the start. In terms of pace, style and moral questioning it is a little bit akin to 'The Island', a Russian film by Pavel Lungin about a monk (see my review here). Of course, the director Benedik Fliegauf of Clone (Womb) is Hungarian, it's set in Germany, and was first released in Russia. I don't always see slowness as a virtue, but some directors make it work. Everything in this film seems a bit dislocated and not quite real, which I feel adds to the sense of meaning and atmosphere over entertainment. Both Martin and I felt that the vision expressed here comes fairly close to the kind of aesthetics and meaning that we are looking to create ourselves. Interestingly, the sea takes on a similar role as in my own little artist's film "Tides". I've noticed the sea is quite the theme in a lot of contemporary music with this kind of minimal and "grey" aesthetics (cf Peter Broderick and Graham Richardson aka Last Days).

It is beautifully executed in a very contemporary looking minimalist style almost entirely in shades of grey in the good tradition of Scandinavian drama, but it's not sterile and boring. How very easy to make this kind of film visually cliched. Instead, it's full of atmosphere and texture and a lot of beautiful close ups (quite a contemporary way of filming). The minimalist music by Max Richter (a composer we both quite like, for the most part) blends in beautifully with the rest of the film - you don't always notice it's there. This simplicity is echoed in the story, which is stripped to its bare minimum in order to highlight certain viewpoints, those little symbolic bits that you're supposed to pay attention to in order to string it all together. It's a deeply symbolic film that engages your braincells. I would recommend reading up on what it all means, since you could easily miss a few things. Maybe do it afterwards when you need to fill in some gaps? People have pondered the symbolism so you can look that up on the internet. You probably also need to understand a little bit about cloning and how it works. Consider that cloning doesn't involve two parents, so if a woman carries a clone, she's not the real mother.. There's also a 'full circle' so you need to pay attention to the first scene and how it relates to the end. I rather not reveal too much else as I believe you should watch it with fresh eyes.

The film makers also daringly tackled an interesting and contemporary, but difficult taboo laden moral issue, which should stimulate intelligent people. It's all done with great confidence and there are few shortcomings. It's not a film for everyone, for sure. Thankfully someone makes this kind of thing. And it only cost 13 million dollars as opposed to 130 for the really rubbish "A Good Day to Die Hard".

Check out this piece of sound art and artistic TV theme from 1963!
(BBC sound artist Delia Derbyshire and Dr Who)


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