Film Festival & Photography Contest
Produced by: David Matthew Johnson, Harleigh McCullum
She carries He, a forever sleeping man.
Then, in the final segment, the pacing slows down. So, as the protagonist walks down the street, the shot seems endless. Now, the long shots prevail. This is all intended to provoke the interpretation of the viewer, as there is no explicit explanation for the strange behavior narrated in the story. By doing so, the film becomes distressing. After all, we witness a lonely act, that we presume is a criminal one.
Based on the title, we may assume the protagonist is a psychopath driven by religious fanatism, in other words, imposing a punishment to the Jonah(s). Perhaps, by vengeance, the protagonist dopes the men to abuse them in return.
Yet, it is never silent, as there is an overwhelming use of letterings in it. Instead of being tools to display the dialogues, as it occurred in the pre-talkies, here the letterings reveal the thoughts and inner voices of the protagonist. In addition, they replace the scenes themselves in some parts of the film, which is a clever solution to reduce the budget, and, also, to increase speed in its pacing. By the way, the letterings pop up in various places on the screen, sometimes just for a nick of time. Undoubtfully, a unique and creative use of this resource.
The first sequences are assembled with a fast rhythm. Besides, the use of shots with short durations, it makes the situation on screen even more weird than they already are. Piece by piece, we unveil the disturbance in the protagonist’s mind. First, through metaphors, like the reflections in the mirrors, and the limping leg, both of which being of common use in traditional cinema to display a disturbed character.
What is more important is that the film achieves its objective as a sensorial experience. In this sense, the viewer is forced into discomfort. Therefore, it is not an entertaining piece, certainly not built for pleasure. However, the manner of constructing Ode to the Whale of Christ in such a stylish form is an alluring invitation for the next films director David Matthew Johnson will make.
Anyway, Ode to the Whale of Christ moves its aim towards men. However, the specificities are open for interpretation. By choosing to make it silent, director David Matthew Johnson puts the sensorial aspects in the first place, so the exposure of what are the situations in the story are not the main objective of his film. Therefore, the idea of women empowerment and the #metoo movement is fit as theme of the movie, along with a metaphor for the Biblical episode of Jonah and the whale.
Cast: Jasmyne Alfreda Johnson, Harleigh McCullum, Hisham Magzoub
Ode to the Whale of Christ
2020, USA, 30 min
Written & Directed by: David Matthew Johnson
Ode to the Whale of Christ is a stylish short movie that dares to be black & white and silent.
Film Critic, the founder of Leitura Filmica