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Birth (2004)
Careful what you wish for.
Filmmaker(s): Jonathan Glazer

It took Anna 10 years to recover from the death of her husband, Sean, but now she's on the verge of marrying her boyfriend, Joseph, and finally moving on. However, on the night of her engagement party, a young boy named Sean turns up, saying he is her dead husband reincarnated. At first she ignores the child, but his knowledge of her former husband's life is uncanny, leading her to believe that he might be telling the truth.

Birth (2004)


There’s a scene in this that will be a feature of film school classes for a long time to come.

Nicole is an uneven actress, only sometimes rising to the world class of Kate and Cate and the young Julianne. The smallest part of this is the process of inhabiting a character, rare enough as it is.

A film exists on several layers depending on its architecture. (I’m only talking here about films that live.) Almost never are the higher levels accessible to the actors in the project: few actors even know they exist. This is a great example of an actress knowing and inhabiting those higher levels.

What we have here is a director who spins a space of awareness around what we see. The story specifically addresses this and supports it. Into this space, the director and composer have poured a score. This score fits that space as being within the movie proper instead of being an annotation as the usual case.

In this space, the score is something between the film and us the audience, the space where the waystations for reincarnation takes place (at least in the story). Nicole acts to the score. It is a remarkable feat because as with green screen acting one has to anticipate what is to come into being later.

The first scene introduces us to that space the score creates. It is a very long shot of the adult Sean running, dying and entering the fog of the score. The scene I mentioned above is when Nicole knows she is entering that space: she has literally just sat down to watch an opera… the music comes up from the movie/opera/limbo space we have already entered and it washes over her and changes her reality.

This shot isn’t just of a character, but of an actress, her character, and a dialog among them and us about the reality of this space, this layer of the film.

Later, she is getting married and the music (this time by players on screen) draw many of the watchers in.

There are lots of flaws in this; it isn’t a lifealtering experience. But that one thing is a special experience, the idea that the filmmaker spins an extra space which Sean infers and Nicole, the composer and we inhabit.

Posted in 2005

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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