Thursday, 15 October 2015


Aliens descend upon the earth, delivering knowledge, transporting culture, enlightening societies. Seductive and sinister, and only slightly less outrageous than it reads when seen from the perspective of British colonialists in the early and mid-20th Century. Miranda Pennell takes no such perspective, despite the connections that she can't help but make between her own experience - an essential component to this cool but absorbing documentary - and theirs. The Host takes a somewhat sympathetic perspective of its own, impressively overcoming the objectivity of its stylistic abstraction, objectivity that colonial narratives placed upon their subjects. In Pennell's search for clarity and reason, she discovers a new outlook on such topics, one in which neither could truly be considered to exist - in a canny interpretation of the events of the past and those of the future of the past, she renders time as a non-chronological entity; The Host itself becomes an artefact of the present, a gallery of artefacts of other times, the analysis of whose purpose will shift as our perspective upon time does too. In sample sounds and archive imagery, Pennell's poetic imposition of one upon the other crafts a narrative of her own, and one of each viewer's own - an essay on the changeability of perspective from one person to the next, one image to the next, one time to the next. The Host is cheerful in delivery, its dryness only developing the more one allows it to, and concise in its length. What Pennell attempts is entirely clear; what she achieves is entirely the opposite, and entirely dependent upon perspective.