Once Within a Time

Once Within a Time
Once Within a Time
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“Art should be cruel. Like a boil that has to be cut open to release pus, art should be like an autopsying of art. This is what it does, it lets go of the tension. Art isn’t happy though.” Godfrey Reggio, the director of the famous Qatsi trilogy (Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, Naqoyqatsi) that hasn’t released a film since Visitors in 2013 gave a Variety interview recently. But man is he back and with Jon Kane – once again his editor on Naqoyqatsi – as editor and co-director. It’s really an “art-opsy” and nothing short of an unusual event.

This may not be well-known by people but each of these four edited by some of best American directors ever such as Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas & Steven Soderbergh also had some greatest film scores ever done for screen thanks to Philip Glass. They depicted imbalances in nature through their formal experimentation, lack of dialogue and breathtaking technical processes which hinted at a world sliding towards danger because human beings have extracted from and depleted earth while moving away from one another all along this time. Nevertheless there was beauty at times, amazing photography too. Once Within a Time is far more claustrophobic, bizarre and painful too-it feels closer to Naqoyqatsi considering Kane’s contribution even if they utilize strange animations techniques and unimaginable camera tricks.

The film actually prophesizes; it’s almost like being under magic or self-hypnosis about technology or apocalypse. The interest from both Reggio and Kane lies on smartphones plus digital media as they shape/are shaping today’s global youth who are going to face the worst effects due to global warming in very near future Once Within a Time is beautiful enough: even people who aren’t taken much with experimental cinema or deep fans of the latter can watch it and not get tired of it. Find more information and showtimes here.

Though like all Reggio’s works, Once Within a Time is somewhat hard to describe, the themes and ideas remain consistent throughout each film, yet in fact, this movie has some real characters and broken narrative pieces. The film roughly follows a boy and girl who grew up with technology (a sort of imposing helmet around their heads) and climate changes, only to be two who have survived the end of the world.

That’s just one interpretation though. There are specific details like that (a Greta Thunberg cutout mask on the head of a mannequin or an enormous magical Mike Tyson along with dancing smartphones), but they are totems; signifiers on an abstracted surface. However, people put them together in different orders but according to me seem to point in one general direction – we are killing ourselves as well as our planet without preparing our progeny for coming times. We played God arrogantly through technology collapse awaits us.

This journey through these themes is breathtaking if not short lived. You will probably want to run Once Within a Time back immediately after its 50 quick minutes if you happen to have affinity for modern & postmodern art. Kane knows that he shouldn’t stretch any part further than required thus he proves himself as an excellent editor . This imagery is gorgeous; there may be smarter people somewhere around who might explain this technically but most of times it looks like magic we experience instead because descriptions would make no sense when presented visually without words appearing anywhere which was impossible though sometimes pure magic on screen also seems impossible to understand let alone explain its technicalities.

Philip Glass, as always, has amazed his fans with various compositions such as Once Within a Time and The Pigeon Tunnel (whom Morris often collaborates with). Not only is he one of the greatest composers of the last century outside of film music; but here he evolves and changes.

Reggio’s films have always been more musical than almost any other, by necessity. There is no dialogue in them so that music informs both imagery. Editing becomes an integral part of the score providing rhythmic flow assisting in story telling. From haunting a cappella to symphonic blasts and hypnotic percussion, it allows you to make connections you wouldn’t before. As usual, yes, but absolutely necessary for Once Within a Time among Reggio’s other works.

The exiled Iranian-American musician-singer Sussan Deyhim is one of those rare Glass partners on a film score. Her voice opens and closes the movie in an oratorical manner like singing “Once upon a time…” and “… The End” in other words even if not exactly that way. We also heard her voice during Peter Gabriel’s score from The Last Temptation of Christ.

In an era where AI generated content and bad actors on social media are increasingly making images lose meaning once within a time is a poignant reminder that unique images can still be created which are significant to people. This film feels handcrafted when compared with this age when computers rule over cinema and actors are going on strike (and writers have already done), due to artificial intelligence being utilized in art.

Art is still beautiful.They include works like James Benning’s Allensworth, Anatomy of a Fall , Zone of Interest , All Of Us Strangers ,and The Boy And The Heron that prove all over the world there are adventurous filmmakers who know how to reach out to their audiences and convey true emotions as well as honest ideas.Reggio’s prophetic film suggests that the world is in self-annihilation and it will get much worse before any improvements could be done. That certainly rings true watching the news. But, Once Within a Time offers just enough hope and humor to suggest otherwise that things may well continue and art somehow might live.

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