The short film “Altered Mind of 20-20” is inspired by my music composition for a classical string quartet – two violins, viola, violoncello and electronica.
The film has two “characters” – the city of Prague and the string quartet performing my score. Prague historically has always been pulsing with life, but now lies lifeless and deserted. It’s the city I know well and love, and I often return to it in my thoughts, feelings, dreams.
The second “character”, the string quartet, will be filmed performing the score in multiple locations throughout the city of Prague. The music is the soul and voice of the film. It tells us a personal and visceral confession reflecting a feeling of hopelessness, anxiety, sadness but also anger and disillusion. Both “characters” together express the emotions and shift in our minds under the pressure of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is about us, about our human relationships, loneliness, isolation, depression; about a world with consequences caused by the pandemic we cannot at this moment see, understand, or imagine.
The film is structured into three parts, which emulate a musical ABC form with a coda. It will open with three upward glissandos and a view of Prague. At the peak of each of these glissandos, the camera filter switches to B&W, blue, and green, suggesting the decaying of our souls. Towards the end, there will be three glissandos that mirror the glissandos in the beginning, but now they will make quick cuts to a white frame corresponding with the emptiness and hopelessness of our erased minds.
I planned to have many shots of Prague taken from a bird’s eye perspective, distant, much like our human connections. The shots will be enhanced by color filters to create a feel of the alteration of our minds / lives. The image of the red metronome ruthlessly counting time reminds us that we might be coming to the end of our civilization. Shots of a rushing crowd will be shown throughout the film in a ghostly manner to exemplify the faint existence of humanity. A shot of several birds flying across the screen will stop mid-frame, like how life suddenly stops without any warning. The camera work is intended to show some of humanity’s innate characteristics, which can’t always be explained. Throughout the film, the red metronome mercilessly slows down.
In part B the music changes its character and slows down in its tempo. It will enter the impressionistic images of the river Moldau, a vain of Bohemia; there will be
reflections of lights in it, the flickering old gas street lamp, the park path will be slowly elevating towards the sky, the blue water of the river, and the beautiful tree leaves. These are symbols of hope… but the unnatural colors of the tree crowns and the river Moldau flowing in reverse tell a different story. The music in this part moves slowly in a very high register with string harmonics until it arrives to the harmonically clear and simple melodic motive: its longings for love and tenderness.
In part C we are brutally torn away from our tender dreams. Music with its industrial grooves drive us back into the empty streets, into collapsed factories, into deluded rushing crowds. In the midst of it there will be a questioning face asking – What is it all for? Was it worth? Can we find a way back to dignity, beauty, and humanity? The repetitive metal clock motive in the music is like a hammer asking the same question, but it also indicates there might not be enough time. We are reminded of this by the slowing red metronome. The coda will consist of three downward glissandos with quick cuts to the white frame, followed by a B&W crowd moving backwards in slow motion. The last accent played on the final wide shot by the quartet concludes the film with gust. The film leaves us with the questions – Did we really lose ourselves? Is humanity going to destroy itself with its endless and arrogant greed? Have I lost myself and my hope in humanity, love?……….
Directed by Elia Cmiral (Czech Republic)