Monday, 10 March 2008
When the sun sets the world becomes an entirely different place: exciting, romantic, dangerous, and mysterious. How do different people experience the hours between dusk and dawn? What does the darkness mean and how does it structure our lives? This documentary essay by Lawrence Johnston (director of Life and Eternity) attempts to tease out these ideas, combining interviews, spectacular cinematography and a lush symphonic musical score by composer Cezary Skubiszewski. Think Koyaanisqatsi or Baraka with a nocturnal theme. But where those films seemed coldly anthropological, this one feels warm and personal; pleasantly humane, and very home-grown.
Sometimes it’s a bit too ordinary. The musings and ramblings of unidentified interviewees on the voice-track seem banal, while interviews to-camera (you may recognize Bill Henson, Christos Tsolkias and Adam Elliot) work at odds with the ethereal visuals from director of photography Laurie McInnes. What lingers in the memory are the superb stop-motion sequences of stars, moons, fireworks and urban lightscapes – mainly of Sydney. Ultimately the film reinforces the fact that for all our fascination with the night, like cave-men of old, huddling round the campfire, we humans are really creatures of the light.
(This review first appeared in The Big Issue, #297)