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Electropolis: Let our Soul Lead the Dance!

8 January 2010 4 Comments

 

I’ve suddenly been thrown from the trees of beauty and whimsicality into a deep and contemplative river.  Quite shocking at first, I’ve settled down to ponder what I see, and how I got here. 

 What did it?

I just watched this short film created last month by Sheridan College called “Electropolis.” It was shared with me by Cali (@Caligater) (who astounds me every time I interact with her) but this is not about that.

 Electropolis is five minutes long, but it has so much in it, and is so powerfully crafted, that it slammed me flat into a long moment of contemplation.

?

Before I get into my reactions I’d like pose a question.  What do you as you wait at stop lights?  Waiting to walk, waiting to drive, waiting, waiting… waiting…  I’ve written about this a couple times in the past. Post Thailand Ponderings and Extrication Time Warp but don’t get distracted just yet!  We’ll get back to this shortly.

 WATCH THE FILM!:

Electropolis from Kevin McCullough on Vimeo.

React!

The music, the visuals, the purposeful lack of dialogue came together to make a really strong message.  The hopeless monotony of civilization is full-blown and heavy in every view of the city and the people “living” in it.  The point: they are no longer living, but merely going about the motions of their day, doing their job to sustain physical existence of the body. 

 The “walk man” on the other hand is a vivacious guy who loves to dance, has an imagination and dreams, as well as a streak of rebelliousness in him.  However, he too has a job, and it is to facilitate the efficient flow of humans and machines through the city.  He is forced to stop dancing and literally stop moving whenever someone needs to cross the street.  His life is put on hold for the non-lives of those outside in the city. 

 He watches expressionless people cross the street every day in a hopeless stream of apathy.  He doesn’t know where they are going or why their heads are bowed, but he sees their sadness and despair.  

 In a daring fraction of a moment he gives up everything he knows in his life and sacrifices a job that is meaningless to him.  He doesn’t know what the result will be but it ends up saving everything. 

 He shares his inner joy and love of dancing, and the people realize the futility of their lives, and the value of freedom within.  They join in his dance, and it becomes their dance.  The city comes to a halt as these few revel in being alive. 

 The machine soon notices and quickly destroys and replaces the defective “walk man” with an updated model without a consciousness.  But the seed of joy was planted in everyone who tasted life that day.  They could never go back to being part of the machine.

Return to stop lights and waiting:

Waiting at a light is a forced pause in a busy, relentlessly moving life.  It is a moment that many of us use to curse the light for being so slow, or just zone out for a moment and let the world spin without us.  But the time waiting for a light is all “walk man” has.  And he makes it the most important moment of his life, changing the lives of everyone around him. 

 So, the incredible message this film so effectively delivers is one of hope.  Always appreciate the power of a single moment, and let your soul shine brightly; because it’s the most amazing thing we have.  Support your heart decisions, no matter the consequences.  Always…

 electropolis01

Parallel Thoughts:

This is by no means the first or only project with a similar message, nor does it try to be! This film is masterful in its references of other great works. 

 Here are a few questions worth considering about this film:

 What other great works were referenced in the film?

 What does the title signify?

 The first couple seconds of a film are incredibly important, what does Electropolis do in the first few seconds? 

 What about the use of color in this film? 

 How about the music? 

 What do the people represent in our society?  What does the “walk man” represent?

 What does the film say about our world?  What does it suggest to you?

 electropolis02

The name Electropolis is a pretty strong reference to “Metropolis” a silent German film from 1927 exploring the difficulties of being a human in a machine world.  

 The film opens with “ELECTROPOLIS” displayed in ones and zeroes (a reference to The Matrix or our dependency on computers and the binary language perhaps?). 

 There is also great use of color as a metaphor.  Everything is dark and drab in the city except for the “walk man’s” box.  It is a single bright and cheery element in the world.  While the “walk man” and everyone else is dancing (both in the middle and at the end), they are well lit and colorful while the entire rest of the city is still dark and drab.    

 There is more, so much more!  But I’ll leave the rest for our own processing.

Thanks!

To the team at Sheridan College who made this film; thank you!  I wish I could give you better credits, but I can’t find anything about the making of it. A web page/blog, email, anything.  This film is powerful, succinct, and fun with an incredible message.  I’ll be on the lookout for other works.

Update:

Here’s a couple blogs from people who worked on the project.

Adam Pockaj blog  

Kevin McCullough blog

4 Comments »

  • Cali Harris said:

    Larkin, I’m so happy you enjoyed the video! I must have watched it 5 times…I was entranced.

    I really enjoyed your analysis of it and the larger metaphors and symbolism. Your writing allowed me to take the video that much more to heart. :)

  • Larkin said:

    It’s fascinating how literary works influence each other, and what creators use to evoke certain emotions and visions in the end product. I totally dug literary analysis in school, and it definitely carries over to my enjoyment of media now.

    How did you initially find the film by the way?

  • Cali Harris said:

    Hey Larkin — Sorry for the delay in reply! I actually found it through a tweet by @KevinBuecher on Twitter (who always posts interesting links).

  • gater snacks | caligater said:

    [...] A friend, Larkin, wrote a beautiful, literary analysis-type post about the video. [...]

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