SPLENDID ISOLATION: Beaches Made of Human Body Where We Are Buried with Our Wounds [IFFR-05]

Splendid Isolation (2022), which embarks us on a journey to search for the traces of what happened before, occupies our minds with the definition of the concept of home. The most important consideration that increases the tension in the film is the fact that the body tries to hug its soul and starts to build its house right there, without allowing the body to infect the soul with wounds from the inside. While the non-corporeal form of the concept of home dances over the characters like an invisible ghost, the search for shelter moves away from the point where we can get shelter. Splendid Isolation, Urszula Antoniak‘s sixth feature film, is a movie in which bodies lost on a remote beach aspire to create cities much larger than they ever imagined. Screened in the Big Screen Competition category at the 51st International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) this year, Splendid Isolation is a fierce poem about the distance of the body both from places and itself.

Abke Haring & Anneke Sluiters

The Doors of The House I Live in Are Made of Sand

You can literally feel your whole body buried in wet sand throughout the movie. Technically speaking, the characters we come across on an abandoned beach where the sun is nowhere and the humidity in the air is almost at its highest, don’t help us dry our bodies at all. The place where we try to survive on one hand and try to establish a sustainable life on the other, has a dark atmosphere that suffocates us, even though it is at a spacious sea level. Although the water we take from the shore and the crabs we collect are somehow helping to keep the body alive, there is nothing we can hold on to mentally to survive. Splendid Isolation, which celebrates the feast of the world in a huge void, makes you feel its tension-filled approach supported by its visual world from every angle. We can say that we are in search of a lost soul in the film, which is fully equipped with a metaphoric and allegorical style. When Hannah (Anneke Sluiters) and Anna (Khadija El Kharraz Alami) try to meet at a common point on the beach, the hand of invisible death has already touched one, and another resists the current situation itself, not to savor the same death. With this, the characters away from each other. Although it is difficult to touch death, making it a part of yourself was like a ban, as it points to eternity.

Anneke Sluiters

Howling is Forbidden at the Hour of the Wolves

The impact of Covid-19 on the film and throughout the production is the biggest force shaping the narrative. According to the director, Splendid Isolation emerged especially for her connection with her husband during the virus period. The deep intimacy between the two has also created an unbearable pit of fear of death caused by the virus, creating a seriously imperfect isolation. While the virus remains here only as a label, a strangeness has arisen about life itself, as death itself gives birth to fear before it comes close to the body. The dark and depressing atmosphere created by such an internalized situation in the film is quite destructive. In particular, the fact that the characters in the film make a house which does not belong to either of them, that they cannot find the sheltered peace they seek even in that house, and that they are always afraid of what is outside, all of these elements reveal a perfect lack of belonging.

Khadija El Kharraz Alami

Find a Soundproof Room! Only There We Can Hear Each Other’s Voices

Throughout the film, the subject of the house and where the person belongs is at a controversial point. Although the existence of a house is included in the story, it is obvious that the interior of the house creates an imbalance in the communication between the characters. One of these imbalances is about sound and hearing. In addition, just as it is a fact that remains valid for the characters, the uncertainty of whom the house belongs to creates unprotected areas in a protected area. While none of these areas fully relax the characters, we are literally stuffy inside an airy space. This is one of the most important factors that make the movie depressing. Antoniak, who prefers drones as another narrative transmission model that dominates the general narrative of the film, leaves the issue of who is in control of these drones open. This paints a picture of a permanent danger outside in every sense. While it is difficult to protect even what is inside the body, it becomes increasingly difficult for the person carrying the body to control the situation.

A character (Abke Haring) who remains mysterious throughout the movie reminds the audience where the name of the movie touches. Splendid Isolation is a British army term based on freedom of movement. This diplomatic move, which was put forward to find an internal balance away from the existence of a common security, is a kind of embellishment to the loneliness of foreign policy. The characters, cornered for solitude in the current space, have dilemmas about feeling safe under the weight of this mysterious presence outside.

Anneke Sluiters

I Came to See the Rainbow

While Splendid Isolation is in search of an in-depth rainbow, when we look at the color palette of the camera language, we can come across a spectrum of very dark colors. Besides, the architecture of the house represents the reflection of a completely empty labyrinth away from the excesses. Thus, the house itself, which fits perfectly with the unprotected and insecure space of the outside, represents a void into which the characters slip and fall, together with its minimal objects. The film’s color tone and use of objects from this perspective create an emotional depth, at the same time shaking up the tension points. Splendid Isolation, which describes the difficulties of connection, togetherness, communication, and resides in the most abstract language; is much more than a ghost that wanders unnoticed among us.

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