Monday, June 20, 2011

Beauty as a terrifying predicament.

Frozen(2010)/ Shivajee Chandrabhushan
The problem with Frozen is that it functions under burdensome notions of ‘beauty’ and ‘loveliness’ – as if it itself is perennially overwhelmed by its own ‘excellence’. Unlike many other directors of independent films, the greatest issue Chandrabhushan faces is not an alacrity of choice(s), but an abundance of it – therefore, his task as an independent director is not as much as creation of a path, but negotiation of one. Filmed entirely in the fantastically beautiful desert of Ladakh, Chandrabhushan could point his camera in any direction, and emerge with a ‘great shot’ – this is only the beginning of his problems. He decides also to shoot in stark black-and-white digital – thereby smudging each image into a high-contrast binary dialectic between light and shadow; black and white, and nothing in between. As a result, the film has many great-looking images, but no great image. Lastly, he chooses also to engage immensely the process of color correction, wherein he further escalates the black towards a richer-digital black and white towards a uranium-flash – eventually, the images from his film look overtly contemplated, as if each one of them was frozen, grabbed, printed and then hung onto the wall above the DI suite, and then altered to a state where each looked ‘beautiful’ or ‘lovely’. But a landscape is eventually a landscape, and nothing more; its mere ontological appeal, i.e., its inherent ability to look ‘beautiful’ through a viewfinder may result in a problem of the very common sort: indulgence. A filmmaker may, when presented with umpteen opportunities to shoot a ‘good shot’, lose sight of his larger objective, instead believing the shot at hand to be the ultimate purpose of his endeavor – therefore assuming the role of a photographer who seeks to perfect a moment in time, instead of a cinema-director, who must perfect a capsule in time. As a result of the same, Frozen is really about nothing – and while a meandering narrative is a noble aim – it clearly is not the aim of this film, which wants to tell a wholly mainstream story, but cannot, because the director cannot resist the temptation of fretting over incidents that impede the flow of his story, if only to get a ‘good shot’.

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