'THE SHADOW OF TWO FLIES UPON A PIN'
- Directed by Raymond Zrike -
This short film depicts the last days of a lonely old copyist.
The plot is inspired by the Gogol’s short story “The Overcoat”, which is one of the most influential pieces of writing pertaining to Russian literature.
Anatole is a dedicated employee who works scrupulously on his copying, a thing he loves so much that he doesn’t want to be promoted. He leads a simple life, but his balance is perturbed when he rips his ancient overcoat. As he leaves in poverty, he makes efforts in order to buy a new one, but finally, the tailor makes a special and very elegant piece for him. His coat is so beautiful that his work colleagues throw a party in its honor. Returning late at night, Anatole is stolen his overcoat, an event that leads to his downfall.
The director, that also signed the script, the cinematography and the editing, adapted the well-known story to the means of his conceptual low-budget filmmaking. He took out some characters and introduced a new one, the new copyist replacing Anatole, who is also the narrator of the story.
The narrator tells the sad story of the copyist to him mother in a long video message. The ending sequences depict him killing Anatole, wearing his coat and feeling haunted, which may represent a plot twist or just the nightmares of a young man living in the apartment of a deceased person, his feelings of guilt for replacing him.
We consider this video work to be conceptual because it tells a story without adhering to the conventions of film narration. We follow the plot by accepting the convention of suggestion replacing representation. The director doesn’t try to build a complex universe and not even a reliable one, but rather to express freely his cinematic style regardless of the confirmed technical and aesthetic norms.
However, the viewer hears much of the story rather than seeing it and at times, the overcharged voice over is poorly illustrated. The rhythm is slow and tiring and many frames are carelessly composed. The soundtrack doesn’t help much, it is mundane and repetitive, making the story even more difficult to follow.
Last, but not the least, we appreciate the director’s effort to portray in his personal style a story that was subject to many interpretations in all forms of art.