- Directed by Al Kalyk -
1850s Australia. John and Martin, two colonial bounty hunters, find themselves on a boat, along a river, pursuing an escaped convict in order to bring him back to stand trial. John is eager to do the right thing and give every chance for Bishop to prove his innocence. Martin, however, with more experience under his belt, prefers to kill the escapee, in order to guarantee the payment which would be forfeit in case Bishop was acquitted.
While pondering this ethical dilemma, the two arrive close to the spot where the convict had taken camp: John gets off and readies himself for the diplomatic approach, while Martin remains in the boat to enjoy a couple of cigars, ready to step in at the smallest hint of trouble. John sits down with Bishop and attempts to talk reason, but the latter chooses to stick to his principles and the higher authority which governs them, rather than submit to the will of the newly arrived redcoats.
‘The Sirius’ offers a simple storyline with a complex, branching set of underlying motifs and themes: that of duty, selflessness versus benevolence, and adherence to the rule of law, which in this case is a twofold concept: a distinction which only Bishop comprehends. The actors perfectly embrace and exhibit all these elaborate and contrasting feelings, and put on a great, believable show.
With this straightforward premises leading to an open, yet satisfying finale, the most notable element of the film is nature: the way in which it is shot, recorded and integrated within the happenings of the story. It is this communion of man with nature that is, ultimately, the central theme of the short. No music is utilized, the producers instead opting for nature’s ambiental sounds: the gentle rowing of the boat along the river, the noise of the crickets, the soft cracking of the campfire. At the culminating point of the film’s climax, all these noises suddenly stop, giving way for a tense, haunting silence.
The audio part masterfully complements the visuals of ‘The Sirius’: some superb shots of the Australian wilderness, made even more impactful by the choice of editing effects, fit the general theme of the film like a glove. Nature is oblivious to man’s struggle and intent to kill, unfolding itself in all its serene splendor.
‘The Sirius’ is certainly an audio-visual marvel, but it also goes beyond simply being a good-looking film. Despite its short runtime of approximately 10 minutes, it manages to convey many emotions, inducing a contemplating mood cleverly blended with its underlying themes; law and nature.