The Aerial (La Antena)
Argentinean writer and director Esteban Sapir utilises the syntax of classic silent cinema to winning effect in this amusing and inventive futuristic adventure. Set in some Orwellian style future city where words and language have died and television is used as a way of controlling the masses, one family discovers they have the key to unlocking the hypnotic state in to which the populous has fallen.
Connecting himself up to other great silent movie hommagists – Guy Maddin, David Lynch, Marc Caro and the Brothers Quay – Sapir’s humorous, strange and often stunning film is alive with the pioneer spirit of Murnau, Lang, Méliès and most notably King Vidor. Each scene is clearly a labour of love for Sapir as he achingly recreates half remembered motifs from Méliès’ Le Voyage dans la Lune, Lang’s Dr Mabuse (1922 version) and Murnau’s brilliant, overlooked, metaphorically comparable 1921 silent Journey in the Night, as well as, of course, Vidor’s mega influential The Crowd.
It’s all brilliantly executed and a load of fun and yet there is something slightly off about the whole thing. Bits of the film look too crisp, the surreal use of subtitles at first delights then irritates, and the central premise seems stretched even at this reasonable running time. Still it’s an interesting experiment that almost works but it will be interesting to see what Sapir does next.
GFT, Glasgow from Fri 30 May–Sun 1 Jun.