Reviews and notes
2015 Rotterdam, New Horizons [Poland], Fukuoka
Indonesian myths are updated via the magic of widescreen digital in director/co-writer Ismail Basbeth's quietly beguiling debut Another Trip to the Moon
. Accessibly exotic in its initial evocations of a timeless idyll, the picture throws a couple of bold narrative curve-balls as it builds towards a satisfying, enigmatic finale. The screenplay almost entirely dispenses with dialogue, apart from a handful of whispery and unsubtitled incantations. But it's not hard to work out what's going on. Early stretches depict a pair of graceful lovers — identified in the credits as Asa (Tara Basro) and Laras (Ratu Anandita) — enjoying an idealized, atavistic hunter-gathering lifestyle in a placid forest, with Asa particularly handy with a bow-and-arrow. Moving between reality, fantasy, dream, hallucination and symbolic representation, Basbeth crafts a strangely alluring form of sensual fairy-tale in which quotidian objects and places take on magical qualities. It's essentially a character-study of the impassively self-possessed Asa, with Basro seldom off-screen as a young woman capable of moving between epochs with a natural, animal poise.
- Neil Young, Hollywood Reporter.
What is the border between still photography and moving pictures? Footage shot by a camera pointed at a waterfall or a fireplace may technically be the latter, but art-wise has more in common with the former. Getting close to that blurred line is Ismail Basbeth's Tiger Award nominated film Another Trip to the Moon
, which had its world premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam this year. For with its slow pacing and careful shot composition, Basbeth's film is more akin to a picture-book full of beautiful stills, than to a motion picture.
Its story is based on an old Indonesian myth: Ana's mother is the village's seer and Ana is expected to replace her eventually. To avoid this fate, Ana has run off into the jungle with a girlfriend, and happily lives a feral life there. When Ana's mother feels her own end approach, she sends a dog to fetch Ana. Over time, the dog changes into a man, Ana marries him and they get a child together.
All this is shown in the aforementioned long, beautiful shots. For example: the first quarter of the film is almost entirely filled with showing two young women hunting, sleeping, bathing, and eating, in a beautiful dark green forest straight out of a fairy tale. Throughout the movie no word is spoken, no explanation given. It's definitely not a silent film though: nature itself provides a constant wall of noise, and sometimes songs are hummed, a very pleasant sound indeed.
It all makes for an extremely sedate film, hypnotizing almost, and would lull most people to sleep if not for some well-timed distractions. One lightning bolt literally made everybody in the theater jump up, suddenly wide awake again. Other bits and pieces are a lot weirder, like the plastic animals roaming through the forest alongside the regular ones.
I liked Another Trip to the Moon
, and as I saw it between a few hectic entries at this year's Rotterdam Festival, it provided me with a temporary oasis of sorts. Would I recommend it to others though? Hmm... Whether anyone will like Another Trip to the Moon
is entirely up to whether he/she can stomach such a strange and slow film, and I'm sure what I called sedate, many will judge to be boring instead. The trailers posted last week give a good impression of what you can expect.
Audiences in Rotterdam gave Another Trip to the Moon
a mean rating of 3.4 out of 5, and I'm guessing the votes were all in the extreme end as this is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of film.
- Ard Vijn, ScreenAnarchy, 11 February 2015.
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