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The Dialog

My New Film

The Story

After a year of planning, then shooting, and finally post-production work my new film The Dialog is complete. Please have a look at it and tell me what you think.

The idea behind The Dialog were the expressionist films: The Student of Prague (1913), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), From Morn to Midnight (1920), The Golem: How He Came into the World (1920), Destiny (1922), Nosferatu (1922), Phantom (1922), Schatten (1923), and The Last Laugh (1924).

These were highly symbolic and stylized films, filmed in what is now known as German Expressionism. The first Expressionist films made up for a lack of lavish budgets by using set designs with wildly non-realistic, geometrically absurd angles, along with designs painted on walls and floors to represent lights, shadows, and objects. The plots and stories of the Expressionist films often dealt with madness, insanity, betrayal and other "intellectual" topics triggered by the experiences of WWI (as opposed to standard action-adventure and romantic films). These were the ideas behind the film version of The Dialog.

The story used in The Dialog is based on a poem by Percy Shelley. His poem explores our feelings towards death. Shelley captures the fear and attraction we all feel towards our inevitable end. The film tries to invoke the same spirit of Shelley's poem by utilizing expressionist cinema techniques.

Percy Shelley (4 August 1792 -- 8 July 1822) was one of the major English Romantic poets, and is regarded by critics as amongst the finest lyric poets in the English language. A radical in his poetry as well as his political and social views, Shelley did not achieve fame during his lifetime, but recognition for his poetry grew steadily following his death. Shelley was a key member of a close circle of visionary poets and writers that included Lord Byron; Leigh Hunt; Thomas Love Peacock; and his own second wife, Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein.

In this short film, I utilized modern digital cinema techniques such as layered compositing to create a slightly off-kilter expressionist world. The film's three dimensional world is intentionally slightly odd. Real and yet not quite so. This feel enhances the expressionist sentiment I strove for. And it enhances the mood of Shelley's poem.

After you watch it let me know what you think.

Here is Shelley's poem:

A Dialogue - Poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley

DEATH:

For my dagger is bathed in the blood of the brave,

I come, care-worn tenant of life, from the grave,

Where Innocence sleeps 'neath the peace-giving sod,

And the good cease to tremble at Tyranny's nod;

I offer a calm habitation to thee,--

Say, victim of grief, wilt thou slumber with me?

My mansion is damp, cold silence is there,

But it lulls in oblivion the fiends of despair;

Not a groan of regret, not a sigh, not a breath,

Dares dispute with grim Silence the empire of Death.

I offer a calm habitation to thee,--

Say, victim of grief, wilt thou slumber with me?

MORTAL:

Mine eyelids are heavy; my soul seeks repose,

It longs in thy cells to embosom its woes,

It longs in thy cells to deposit its load,

Where no longer the scorpions of Perfidy goad,--

Where the phantoms of Prejudice vanish away,

And Bigotry's bloodhounds lose scent of their prey.

Yet tell me, dark Death, when thine empire is o'er,

What awaits on Futurity's mist-covered shore?

DEATH:

Cease, cease, wayward Mortal! I dare not unveil

The shadows that float o'er Eternity's vale;

Nought waits for the good but a spirit of Love,

That will hail their blest advent to regions above.

For Love, Mortal, gleams through the gloom of my sway,

And the shades which surround me fly fast at its ray.

Hast thou loved?--Then depart from these regions of hate,

And in slumber with me blunt the arrows of fate.

I offer a calm habitation to thee.--

Say, victim of grief, wilt thou slumber with me?

MORTAL:

Oh! sweet is thy slumber! oh! sweet is the ray

Which after thy night introduces the day;

How concealed, how persuasive, self-interest's breath,

Though it floats to mine ear from the bosom of Death!

I hoped that I quite was forgotten by all,

Yet a lingering friend might be grieved at my fall,

And duty forbids, though I languish to die,

When departure might heave Virtue's breast with a sigh.

O Death! O my friend! snatch this form to thy shrine,

And I fear, dear destroyer, I shall not repine.



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