THE EDGE OF DAYBREAK: Land of Doom Without Sun (IFFR – World Premiere)

Every truth is a means to try and affirm a holistic view, only to build and destroy it over and over again. With this sense, Taiki Sakpisit is an expert in memory capture. The director, who featured in IFFR’s Tiger Short Competition in 2019 with The Mental Traveler, this time dives deeper into subjects such as suffering, mourning and regret with The Edge of Daybreak (2021). Refusing to reflect directly these basic human emotions, Sakpisit interpreted his own understanding of reality by going through the same themes. With the objects he used, conveyed the death & birth in a very effective way. As Dial M for Movie, we’re very fortunate to attend to the World Premiere of this œuvre d’art thanks to the 50th edition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam. “The Edge of Daybreak” is also part of the festival’s Tiger Competition.

The Endless Searching of the Lost

The naked woman lying in the pit that freezed my mind from the first scenes of the film directly reminded me of Marc Chagall‘s 1915 oil painting The Poet Reclining. This painting, which is completely idyllic, is very different from Chagall‘s other works. The composition in this painting depicts a place that is imagined, if we may say, for the sole purpose of imagining. This idyllic setting in the painting, which is remembered as a place of loneliness, depends on the divisions of Taiki Sakpisit‘s narrative of The Edge of Daybreak. In the film, the dominant emotions lay behind the sounds of destruction as they struggle to get out.

In Chagall‘s painting, the man lying on the ground turns his back on everything that happens behind him, most importantly, nature. Although he does not see, a world continues to work behind him. The story takes its beauty precisely from here. The black-and-white narration in the film, and even the images that we dive into the jet-black waters, are used like a curtain of silent violence between the characters. We can’t help but feel a great deal of guilt all over the story. At this point, one can see how dark the Sakpisit‘s world is. So much so that unlike the man in Chagall’s painting, you cannot easily turn your back on the story.

Bodily Conversations of Disembodied Shadows

From the beginning to the end of the visual narrative, shadows worthy of observation haunt us on the walls, on the curtains, all over the house. These cursed shadows act just like the footprints of a certain doomsday. Every time their voices are heard, the environment is freezing. The most interesting thing is that the shadows are “really” talking. Their bodies are implied to exist, but there are disembodied figures speaking behind their shadows. They’re anthropomorphic wannabes. This utilization in the film evokes shadow plays in theater. The puppets used in these shadow plays are mostly represented with the animal skin pieces. Animal skins are gold when it comes to create the background shapes of human characters.

Since The Edge of Daybreak is also a movie which has a lot of animal usage, the classic shadow play concept creates a common point in this sense, resulting in a very rich visual feast. In one particular scene, there are dishes left half-eaten on the table. Food spilled from the plates. In a point in time, there were people who gathered around this table and ate together. However, in the scene, we only see an animal walking around the table trying to feed itself. This is a struggle for survival. On the other hand, it is interesting that the way the food spreads, suggests the issue of death and therefore the body. Leaving the body to rot is like the first condition (consequence?) of death. Here, what is left on the table and the fact that we are witnessing the instinct of an animal are an indication that the first condition of death has occurred.

The Story of Those Trying to Get Rid of Their Guilt

One of the elements that overturned emotions and played an active role in the film was the use of music, created by the talented Yasuhiro Morinaga (Concrete). This type of melody that comes out in such tense and unpredictable moments invite the spectators gently to the guilt in the story. Let’s not forget that whenever there is a feeling of guilt, there is an act of purification that occurs in order to resolve that feeling. Taiki Sakpisit constructed the setup for this act in the movie very well. We also can’t appreciate enough the performances of the very talented actresses Manatsanun Phanlerdwongsakul and Sunida Ratanakorn, who carried the movie with such depth and grace.

In Greek Mythology, Asclepius (Ἀσκληπιός), the god of medicine and health, was symbolized by a snake. The snake also had a healing side in ancient Greece, hence the symbol of medicine. Interestingly, we are far from being used in this sense in The Edge of Daybreak. This shows that the characters in the movie do not really want to be purified. It’s as if they want to open their wounds even more and frankly, they seem satisfied with the apocalypse they are in. Maybe that’s why we’ve gotten so used to the sun not rising as we know it, and to the universe in the movie which is not like any known universes. We got caught up in this approach within the first minutes of The Edge of Daybreak.

Devastating Drama Delivers a Visually Unique Treasure

Undoubtedly, Taiki Sakpisit’s visual world and the cinematic language that he uses in storytelling offer a visual feast with minimalistic aesthetics, while also evoking the weight of a macro narrative. In such a story, it is difficult to present an inner distress in such a strong infrastructure, but the weight of inner boredom, which is quite abstract in his style, is deeply felt throughout the film. There are a few expressions that are repeated at the very beginning and end of the movie. Just as those expressions flow from the screen to our ears, we find ourselves covering our ears and eyes. So we get away from ourselves. We are losing our hearing, everything. In a sense, we are lonely in this land without a sun.

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