Tuesday, 21 February 2017

REVIEW - ALL THE CITIES OF THE NORTH (DANE KOMLJEN)


A search for purpose in a place without meaning. Dane Komljen detaches himself from the precondition of mutual understanding between artist and audience, in the process transforming his work from a metaphoric statement into an integrally artistic one. All the Cities of the North is boldly, beguilingly opaque, to such an extremity that it repels practically all attempts to make proper sense of its content; extremities are good - nobody wants a half-arsed effort. If one were to describe this dense, curious film using the hackneyed phrase 'tone poem,' one wouldn't be inaccurate, as Komljen contributes only ever more to the intellectual abstraction and indecipherability of his conceit with each new shot or scene. He evokes contemplation without ever encouraging any resolution to it, suspending the viewer in rapturous appreciation of his artistry without ever allowing them to reach a satisfactory conclusion. The mystery of All the Cities of the North is thus essential to its success, and a guarantee that this is a work whose character will remain unclear not merely upon viewing but upon re-viewing and re-viewing. Yet what one receives in return for their patient perplexion is the value of participating in a truly unique cinematic experience, and the knowledge that the more one puts into it, the greater the imaginative and intellective returns are likely to be. We, as the silent figures we see on the screen, may never be any closer to conclusion in our search for purpose in this film, but the search itself is worth the effort.